This Glossary of Acting Terms serves as a compendium for both the seasoned practitioner and the aspiring actor, offering a concise yet comprehensive guide through the vocabulary of acting for the stage and screen.
The acting world is vast and dynamic, encompassing many techniques, methods, and practices that have been honed and refined over the centuries. From the foundational stones of “Method Acting” and the “Chekhov Technique” to the more contemporary “Suzuki Method” and others, this glossary delves into the diverse methodologies that actors employ to bring authenticity and life to their characters. It traverses the spectrum of actor training, highlighting the physical, emotional, and intellectual avenues explored in creating compelling performances. The terms encapsulate movement, voice, character development, and emotional expression.
Furthermore, this glossary reflects the dynamic nature of acting. Whether it be the spontaneous creativity of “Improvisation”, the subtlety of “Subtext” beneath the lines, or knowing how to find your “Inner Monologue”, this glossary provides actors and enthusiasts with the linguistic tools necessary for those seeking to refine their craft’s lexicon or to navigate the intricate artistry of dramatic expression.
Glossary of Acting Terms
Accent: A way of speaking where pronunciation reflects regional, national, or social origins. Actors often learn accents to enhance authenticity or meet the requirements of a character’s background.
Actioning: A technique wherein an actor assigns a verb to each line or action to define what their character is doing to another character, to clarify their intentions and to make each moment active.
Actor: A practitioner in the performing arts who inhabits a role within a play, film, or other narrative mediums, using a combination of voice, gesture, and movement to convey the character’s essence.
Actor’s Equity: The leading industry union for actors and stage managers in the UK and the US, ensuring professional standards and working conditions and providing a range of benefits for its members.
Actor’s Instrument: A term that refers to an actor’s use of their physical body, voice, mind, and emotional facility to create characters and tell stories.
Actor-Manager: Historically, an actor who also worked as the manager of a theatre company, overseeing both business and artistic aspects of production.
Actor-Network Theory (ANT): A theoretical framework for understanding social phenomena that could be applied to the interconnectedness of the theatrical production process, considering all participants as part of a network.
Acting Coach: A mentor who trains actors in various aspects of performance, often focusing on a specific technique or preparing for a particular role.
Acting Style: The distinctive manner in which an actor approaches and executes a performance, often influenced by cultural, historical, or personal interpretation.
Ad-lib: Dialogue spontaneously created by the actor in the moment, not scripted initially, often to maintain performance flow when there are lapses or to add authenticity.
Adler Technique: Stemming from Stella Adler, this approach encourages actors to use their imagination in combination with script analysis to develop characters and make the world of the play believable.
Affective Memory: Also known as emotional memory, a technique actors use to tap into their own real past experiences to conjure emotions relevant to their character’s situation.
Agent: A representative who helps actors find work, negotiate contracts, and manage their professional careers, often taking a percentage of the actor’s earnings as compensation.
Alexander Technique: A practice that teaches improved posture and movement, which is believed to affect physical and emotional well-being and is used by actors to enhance performance.
Amateur: A non-professional actor who does not earn a living from acting but participates for personal enjoyment, community engagement, or educational purposes.
Ambient Noise: The natural background noise in a scene or venue that can be used in a performance to create a sense of realism or atmosphere.
Amphitheatre: A circular or oval open-air theatre with seats rising around a central stage, used since ancient times for dramatic and other types of performances.
Amplification: The electronic enhancement of sound, particularly the actor’s voice, through the use of microphones and speakers to ensure audibility for the audience.
Antagonist: A character in a story or play who opposes the protagonist or main character, often creating the central conflict.
Apron: The front part of the stage extending past the main curtain, also known as downstage, which brings actors closer to the audience.
Applause: The audience’s clapping at the end of a performance or scene, expressing approval and appreciation for the work of the performers.
Archetype: A character, action, or situation that is a prototype or model from which similar characters and ideas are derived, often used in storytelling and character creation.
Arena Stage: A stage design where the audience surrounds the stage area on all sides, also known as “theatre in the round,” facilitating a more intimate and immersive viewing experience.
Articulation: The clear and precise pronunciation of words, essential for actors to ensure that their spoken dialogue is understandable to the audience.
Aside: A dramatic device where a character speaks directly to the audience, sharing thoughts or feelings, while other characters remain oblivious to this communication.
At Rise: A stage direction indicating the initial setup and situation on stage as the curtain opens or as a scene begins.
Attack: The vigour and commitment with which an actor approaches a role, scene, or dialogue, often setting the tone for the performance.
Audition: A trial performance where an actor demonstrates their suitability for a particular role, showcasing their talent and interpretive skills.
Automatic Dialogue Replacement (ADR): The process of re-recording dialogue in post-production for clarity or to change the original lines.
Backstage: The areas of the theatre not visible to the audience, where preparations for the performance occur.
Backstory: Information created by an actor or provided by the script about a character’s history that informs their motivations and behaviours.
Beat: The term can also refer to a brief pause an actor takes, either because it’s indicated in the script or as a natural part of the character’s response.
Beat: A beat is often used to denote the smallest unit of action in a scene. It is a moment in the script where a shift in intention or emotion occurs, leading the character to a new action or reaction
Beat Change: A shift within a scene where the actor changes tactics or the character’s emotional state changes, often leading to a new line of thought or action.
Black Box: A simple, versatile performance space, typically with black walls and a flat floor.
Blackout: A quick and complete cessation of stage lighting, usually indicating the end of a scene or act.
Blind Casting: Casting actors without considering their ethnicity, race, or sometimes gender, focusing on the performer’s abilities and the director’s vision for the role.
Blue Screen: A filming technique using a blue backdrop that allows for the addition of different backgrounds in post-production.
Blocking: Refers to the precise staging of actors on a set or stage to facilitate the action of the performance. This includes planning where and how an actor moves, stands, or interacts with other characters and elements of the set.
Body Language: The non-verbal communication through gestures, expressions, and movements, which actors use to convey their character’s emotions and intentions.
Body Mic: A small microphone worn on the body, typically hidden in the actor’s costume, to amplify their voice.
Box Office: The place where tickets are sold; also refers to the commercial success of a production.
Bravura: A display of brilliant or showy technique by an actor, often during a particularly challenging scene.
Break a Leg: A traditional saying in theatre used to wish an actor good luck.
Broad Acting: A style of acting that is exaggerated and not subtle, often used in comedy or to reach audiences in large venues.
Building a Character: The process by which an actor creates a character’s personality, background, and motivations to deliver a convincing performance.
Business: Specific gestures or actions that an actor performs with props or costumes that help to develop their character or enhance the storytelling.
Callback: A second, more selective round of auditions where actors who have made a positive initial impression are asked to return for further evaluation.
Call Sheet: A schedule distributed to the cast and crew listing the times they are needed for filming.
Call Time: The scheduled time actors must arrive at the theatre, on set, or at rehearsal.
Cameo: A brief appearance or role by a known actor who typically has a more prominent reputation than the part would usually call for.
Cast: The collective term for all the actors participating in a particular play, film, or television show.
Casting: The process of selecting actors for various roles in a script, typically conducted by a casting director in collaboration with the director.
Casting Call: An announcement or invitation for actors to audition for roles in a production.
Casting Director: The individual responsible for selecting actors for roles in a film, play, or television production, often running auditions and callbacks.
Cattle Call: An audition open to a large number of actors, often with little time allocated per individual.
Character Actor: An actor who specializes in playing unusual or distinctive characters, often supporting roles rather than leading roles.
Characterisation: The creation and portrayal of a character’s physical, emotional, and psychological attributes by an actor.
Cheat Out: When an actor pivots towards the audience while still appearing to interact with other characters to maintain a more open position for audience engagement.
Chekhov Technique: Created by Michael Chekhov, this acting technique emphasizes imagination and body movement, using psychological gestures and transformation to explore character and action.
Chemistry: The natural rapport and interaction between actors, often reflecting the believability of their relationships on stage or screen.
Chorus: In classical Greek theatre, the group of actors who comment on the action, often speaking, chanting, or singing in unison.
Classical Technique: This term generally refers to acting techniques rooted in the works of Shakespeare and other classical playwrights, emphasizing voice, movement, and a deep understanding of poetic language, rhythm, and structure.
Climax: The most intense point in the storyline, a moment that is often the turning point for the protagonist’s fortunes and is pivotal in the play or film’s resolution.
Cold Reading: Reading aloud from a script with little to no preparation, often used in auditions to assess an actor’s instinctive interpretive skills.
Company: A group of actors, directors, and other staff who work together to produce a theatrical performance.
Conflict: The central struggle between opposing forces in a play or film, which drives the drama and is essential for plot development.
Conservatory: An intensive training program focused on the performing arts, including acting techniques, voice, and movement, and often associated with classical theatre training.
Contrapuntal Dialogue: Dialogue in which two characters speak simultaneously, often used to create dramatic tension or to show differing perspectives.
Corpse: Slang for an actor breaking character by laughing or losing composure during a scene, typically considered unprofessional unless used intentionally for comedic effect.
Cue: The trigger for an actor’s entrance, exit, line of dialogue, or technical action within a performance.
Cue-to-Cue: A type of technical rehearsal where the performance is stopped and started to focus on the transition between technical elements such as lighting, sound, and set changes.
Curtain Call: The time at the end of a performance when actors return to the stage to be acknowledged by the audience.
Dialect: A form of a language that is specific to a region or group, which actors may learn to portray characters authentically.
Dialogue: The spoken words exchanged by characters in a play or screenplay, forming the basis of the interactions in a performance.
Diction: The clarity and enunciation of an actor’s speech, which is essential for conveying the text intelligibly to the audience.
Director: The individual responsible for the overall vision, pacing, and staging of a play or film, guiding actors in their performances.
Double: An actor who stands in for another actor, often for scenes requiring special skills or risk.
Double Threat: A performer who is proficient in two of the three performance disciplines: acting, singing, and dancing.
Downstage: The area of the stage closest to the audience.
Dramatis Personae: A Latin term meaning “characters of the drama,” referring to the list of characters in a play.
Dress Rehearsal: The final rehearsal of a play with all the costumes, makeup, and technical elements in place, performed as if it is an actual performance.
Dressing Room: A room where actors get into costume and apply makeup.
Dropping Cue: Missing a cue, either for a line, action, or technical element.
Dual Role: When an actor portrays two different characters within the same production, often used to showcase versatility or for narrative effect.
Duet: A performance piece or scene for two actors, singers, or dancers, focusing on their interaction and relationship.
Duologue: A scene or short play with dialogue between two actors.
Dynamic: The varying levels of intensity and emotion in an actor’s performance, contributing to the portrayal of a character’s complexity.
Dynamics: The shifting emotional forces, conflict, and interactions between characters within a scene.
Emotional Recall: An acting technique where the performer draws upon past emotional experiences to inform and enhance their portrayal of a character’s emotions.
Ensemble: A group of actors, dancers, or performers who work together as a cohesive unit, often sharing equal importance in a performance.
Entrance: The act of coming onto the stage, which can be a significant moment for a character and is often timed for dramatic effect.
Enunciation: The act of speaking clearly and concisely, ensuring each word is articulated fully, which is vital for an actor to be understood by the audience.
Epilogue: A speech or scene that is presented after the main play has concluded, often providing closure to the story or a commentary on the events of the play.
Exposition: The conveyance of background information necessary for understanding the world of the play, often delivered by the actors through dialogue or action.
Externalisation: The process by which an actor expresses their character’s internal thoughts and emotions through physical gestures, facial expressions, and voice.
Extras: Actors who have non-speaking roles, typically in the background.
Feedback: Critical and constructive information given to actors about their performance for the purpose of improvement.
Fight Choreography: The art of creating and performing staged combat that appears realistic while ensuring the actors’ safety.
Focus: In performance, an actor’s concentration on their role, blocking, and interaction with other actors; in staging, the point at which the audience’s attention is directed.
Foil: A character that contrasts with another character, often the protagonist, to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
Fourth Wall: The conceptual barrier between the performers and the audience, which actors may ‘break’ by addressing the audience directly.
Front of House: The theatre area in front of the stage, including the lobby and auditorium, where the audience congregates.
Full House: When all the available seats for a performance are sold, an indication of a production’s popularity or success.
Fundamentals: The basic principles and techniques underpin acting, such as voice projection, body language, and character development.
Gait: The manner of walking or moving on foot, which can be a critical element of a character’s physicality and is often used by actors to suggest age, emotion, or social status.
Gesticulation: The action of making gestures or using movements of the body or limbs to express emotion or to emphasize an idea or sentiment, often employed in physical theatre and expressive acting.
Gesture: A movement of the body or limbs that expresses or emphasizes an idea, sentiment, or attitude, which can be an important part of an actor’s portrayal of a character.
Given Circumstances: The underlying conditions that define the world of the play, including time period, location, and context, which actors consider when developing their performance.
Green Room: A lounge or waiting room for performers, typically located backstage, where actors can relax before or after going on stage.
Growth: In character development, the progression or change in a character throughout the story, which actors must portray convincingly.
Hagen Technique: Uta Hagen’s technique offers practical and accessible methods for actors to create realistic characters, focusing on identifying the character’s objectives and employing a series of questions to deepen the portrayal.
Ham: An actor who overacts or performs in an exaggerated manner, typically in a way that is not intended by the director or the script.
Hand Props: Objects like tools, weapons, or items of personal adornment that actors handle or use during a performance.
Headshot: A photographic portrait of an actor used as part of a portfolio or for auditions, showcasing their appearance for casting purposes.
Hero: The principal character in a play, novel, or film, typically one who embodies the virtues and characteristics that are desirable in the story’s context.
Improvisation: The art of creating and performing spontaneously without a script, often used in actor training to develop skills such as creativity, responsiveness, and the ability to inhabit a character.
Impulse: The instinctive drive that an actor feels to perform an action or deliver a line, crucial for maintaining the authenticity and spontaneity of a performance.
Inflection: The modulation of pitch or tone in an actor’s voice, used to convey meaning, emotion, or intention.
Inner Monologue: The character’s thoughts and feelings that are expressed internally and not spoken aloud, which actors consider to express subtext and inform their performance.
Innovation: The introduction of new methods, ideas, or products in the realm of acting and theatre, often leading to unique styles or methods of performance.
Intention: What an actor’s character wants to achieve in any given moment of the play, which drives their actions and reactions.
Interpretation: The actor’s creative process of bringing a character to life, based on their understanding and analysis of the script.
Intonation: Intonation is the variation in pitch during speech. It is not about single notes but rather the movement of pitch across phrases and sentences. Intonation helps convey meaning, emotion, and emphasis, and it can indicate questions, statements, commands, or other speech functions.
In-the-Round: A type of stage surrounded by the audience on all sides, requiring actors to perform with consideration for viewers from multiple angles.
Isolation: A technique where an actor moves only one part of the body at a time, useful in creating a physical characterisation or for dance and movement sequences.
Justification: An actor’s process of providing logical reasoning behind their character’s actions and reactions, ensuring that all elements of the performance are grounded in the character’s
Kinesthetics: The study of body motion and the awareness actors have of their body movements as a means of conveying emotion or intent.
Laban Movement: A method of understanding and notating dance and movement created by Rudolf Laban, used by actors to explore and express physicality and emotion.
Levels: The use of different physical heights in stage blocking to create visual interest, power dynamics, or to focus attention.
Libretto: The text of an opera or musical, including dialogue and lyrics, critical for actors in musical theatre to interpret their roles.
Line Reading: The way an actor delivers a line, with particular inflection, tone, and pacing, which can significantly impact the meaning and reception of the dialogue.
Lowering the Fourth Wall: When actors slightly acknowledge the audience’s presence without directly addressing them, creating a sense of inclusion and intimacy.
Magic If: A concept coined by Konstantin Stanislavski asking actors to imagine how they would feel or behave “if” they were in their character’s situation to create realistic emotions and actions.
Make-Up: Cosmetics and prosthetics applied to an actor’s skin to alter their appearance for the role they are playing.
Mark (Spot): A designated position for an actor to stand on stage or set.
Masking: The use of props or scenery to block the audience’s view of certain parts of the stage, or the use of masks to change or enhance an actor’s appearance.
Meisner Technique: An approach to acting developed by Sanford Meisner focusing on getting actors to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances” through emotional preparation and repetition exercises.
Method Acting: A range of training and rehearsal techniques that seek to encourage sincere and emotionally expressive performances, as formulated by Lee Strasberg and others.
Mime: The art of performing a story or conveying a message through body motions, without use of speech.
Monologue: An extended speech by a single character in a play or movie, or a dramatic piece designed to be spoken by a single actor.
Motivation: The reason behind a character’s behaviour, driving their actions and reactions within the narrative.
Movement: An actor’s physical change of position or the manner in which they physically navigate the stage.
Movement Director: A specialist who works with actors to choreograph or plan the physical movements of a performance, ensuring that it complements the narrative and emotional context.
Mugging: Exaggerated facial expressions used by an actor to convey emotions or reactions, often considered overly theatrical and lacking in subtlety.
Neutral Mask: A mask with a non-expressive face used in actor training to encourage performers to use their body to convey emotion and intention.
Non-Traditional Casting: Casting that ignores the actor’s race, gender, age, or other physical attributes that would traditionally be significant for a role.
Nonverbal Communication: The process of conveying a message without the use of spoken language, through gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
Objective: In acting, this refers to what the character wants to achieve in a scene or throughout the play. An actor’s understanding of their character’s objective is crucial for delivering a focused and driven performance.
Obstacle: Anything that stands in the way of a character achieving their objective. Actors use obstacles to increase the dramatic tension and to show their character’s determination or ingenuity.
Off-Book: When an actor has memorized their lines completely and no longer needs to refer to the script during rehearsals.
On-Book: During rehearsals, an actor or stage manager who follows the script and provides actors with their lines upon request.
Open Audition: An audition that is open to all, sometimes called a “cattle call”, where a large number of actors try out for a role.
Out of Character: When an actor breaks from the portrayal of their character, either intentionally or unintentionally, during a performance.
Overacting: Exaggerated, theatrical acting that lacks subtlety and believability, often perceived as lacking sincerity or truthfulness.
Pace: The speed at which the action of the play moves along, which can be influenced by the actors’ delivery of lines and physical movement.
Part: The role that an actor plays in a theatre production, film, or television show.
Personal Props: Items carried or used by an actor that are specific to their character.
Physicalisation: The actor’s use of the body to create character or convey emotion.
Pick-Up Rehearsals: Rehearsals scheduled to brush up on a performance after the production has opened, especially after a layoff or extended break.
Pit: The area of a theatre, usually below the level of the stage, where the orchestra performs.
Pitch: Pitch is the perceived frequency of sound, including an actor’s voice. It can vary from low to high and expresses different emotions or characteristics.
Places: A call given to actors to take their positions at the start of a play or act.
Playwright: The author of a play.
Plot: The sequence of events that make up a story in a play or film.
Practicals: Items on set or props that actually work such as light fixtures, phones, or faucets.
Preview: A performance of a play before the official opening, which is used to test audience reactions and make any final adjustments.
Principal: A main character in a play or the leading actor in a group of performers.
Prologue: An introductory speech or scene in a play or other performance.
Proscenium Arch Stage: A stage format with a framed opening, known as the proscenium arch, through which the audience views the play.
Prompt: To assist an actor by providing forgotten lines or cues during a performance.
Prompter: The person who assists actors in remembering their lines, typically unseen by the audience.
Props (Properties): Items used by actors on stage to help establish the setting, tell the story, and develop the character.
Proscenium: The part of a theatre stage in front of the curtain.
Protagonist: The main character in a drama or another narrative, around whom the plot revolves.
Punching: The action of emphasizing certain words or phrases during a performance to highlight their importance or to ensure clarity.
Quadruple Threat: A performer who is skilled in acting, singing, dancing, and another area such as musicianship or acrobatics, adding to the traditional “triple threat”.
Range: The scope of an actor’s abilities, encompassing emotional depth, physicality, vocal variation, and the diversity of characters they can convincingly portray.
Rate: This refers to the speed at which an actor speaks. The rate can affect the rhythm of the speech and is often used to convey a character’s emotional state, urgency, or personality.
Reaction Shot: A shot in film or television showing one or more characters’ reactions to an event or dialogue.
Read-Through: The initial gathering where actors read the script aloud to understand the storyline, their characters, and the dialogue, without acting it out.
Recall: In the audition process, when an actor is invited back for another audition, indicating that they are being seriously considered for the role.
Rehearsal: Practice sessions in which actors work through the script and blocking to prepare for a performance.
Rehearsal Process: The period of exploration and practice before the actual performance, where actors and directors work together to develop the production.
Representational Acting: A style of acting where the actor imitates the external behaviours of a character.
Resonance: The richness and depth of an actor’s voice, enhancing its quality and audibility.
Rhythm: The patterned, recurring variations of stress and timing in speech or movement.
Role: The character that an actor portrays in a play, film, or television show.
Run: The series of performances of a show, or the uninterrupted sequence of the entire play during a performance.
Run-Through: A type of rehearsal where the play is performed from start to finish without stopping, usually to see how the entire show flows.
Running Time: The total duration of a performance from start to finish, including any intermissions.
Scene: A division of a play or performance that represents a continuous portion of the action, usually occurring in a specific location and time.
Scene Partner: Another actor with whom one interacts during a scene, emphasizing the collaborative nature of acting.
Scene Study: An educational exercise in which actors analyse and perform scenes from plays to develop their craft.
Script: The written text of a play, film, or broadcast, including dialogue and stage directions, that actors study and memorise for their performance.
Script Analysis: The process by which actors break down the script to understand character motivation, plot, themes, and structure.
Sense Memory: An acting technique where performers use their five senses to recall the physical sensations of a specific experience, helping to produce a genuine emotional response.
Set: The physical surroundings, constructed on stage or on location, in which actors perform; also refers to the process of building these surroundings.
Sight Lines: The perspective of the audience; what they can see from their seats, which affects how actors position themselves on stage.
Soliloquy: A speech in which a character, alone on stage, speaks their thoughts aloud, giving the audience insight into their inner life.
Speed-Through: A rehearsal technique where actors deliver their lines as quickly as possible without physical action.
Spolin Method: Devised by Viola Spolin, this method uses improvisational games to develop actors’ spontaneity and creativity, enhancing their ability to live in the moment and react within the context of the scene.
Stage Directions: Instructions in the script for actors, indicating movement, positioning, or tone, usually written in italics or parentheses.
Stage Left: The left side of the stage from the actor’s perspective when facing the audience.
Stage Right: The right side of the stage from the actor’s perspective when facing the audience.
Stage Manager: The person responsible for the smooth execution of a production, including overseeing rehearsals, coordinating all aspects backstage, and calling cues during performances.
Stand-In: A person who physically substitutes for an actor for technical preparation.
Stanislavski System: A method of actor training developed by Konstantin Stanislavski, which encourages actors to use personal experience and imagination to create realistic performances.
Stress: Stress refers to the emphasis placed on certain words or syllables in a line of dialogue. Stress can alter the meaning of a sentence and is crucial for expressing a character’s intentions and emotions. It helps to convey which parts of a sentence are most important.
Subtext: The underlying meaning or set of meanings in a script, which actors convey through their performance beyond what is spoken.
Super Objective: The overarching desire or goal that drives a character throughout the play, as identified by the actor.
Suspension of Disbelief: The audience’s acceptance of the fiction being presented on stage, a state that actors help to facilitate through convincing performances.
Suzuki Method: Developed by Tadashi Suzuki, this method combines traditional and avant-garde techniques to train actors, focusing on grounding, posture, and breath control to enhance emotional and physical power.
Swing: A performer who learns multiple ensemble roles and can substitute for absent actors.
Tableau: A static scene onstage featuring actors in a silent, motionless depiction of a scene, character, or abstract idea.
Tag Line: The final line of a scene or play, which often serves as a summary or a punchline.
Talent Agent: A professional who represents actors, finding them work and negotiating contracts in exchange for a percentage of the actor’s earnings.
Technical Rehearsal: A rehearsal that focuses on the technical aspects of a production, such as lighting, sound, and set changes, usually with the actors present.
Technique: The method or skill involved in performing an aspect of acting, such as voice projection, body language, or emotional expression.
Teleprompter: A device that displays a script or text so that a speaker or broadcaster can read their lines while looking directly at the camera.
Tempo: The speed at which dialogue, action, and overall pacing of a performance progresses.
Tension: The suspense or intensity in a scene, often a result of conflict or obstacles faced by the characters, which actors convey through performance.
Theatre-in-the-round: A stage surrounded by the audience on all sides, also known as “arena stage.”
Thespian: A term synonymous with actor, derived from Thespis of ancient Greece, who is traditionally considered the first actor.
Thrust Stage: A stage that extends into the audience on three sides and is connected to the backstage area by its upstage end.
Timing: The actor’s control over the pace and delivery of their performance, crucial for comedic effect, dramatic impact, and synchronicity with other performers.
Tragic Flaw: A character trait that leads to the protagonist’s downfall in a tragedy, which actors must embody convincingly.
Triple Threat: A term used to describe a performer who excels in acting, singing, and dancing, making them highly versatile and valuable in musical theatre.
Typecasting: The practice of repeatedly casting an actor in the same kind of role, based on their appearance or previous roles they’ve played.
Understudy: An actor who learns another’s role and is prepared to take over in their absence, ensuring the continuity of performances.
Upstage: The area of the stage furthest from the audience, which can also refer to the act of drawing attention away from another actor.
Upstaging: Inadvertently or deliberately drawing the audience’s attention away from another actor, or being positioned upstage causing another actor to face away from the audience when speaking to them.
Verfremdungseffekt: Also known as the “alienation effect” or “distancing effect,” a technique pioneered by Bertolt Brecht in epic theatre, aimed at preventing the audience from losing itself completely in the narrative, instead making it a critical observer.
Voice-Over: A production technique where a voice—that is not part of the narrative—is used in radio, television, film, theatre, or other presentations.
Vocal Projection: The strength of speaking or singing whereby an actor’s voice is thrown and clearly heard by the audience, a technique essential for stage actors.
Voice: The sound produced in a person’s larynx and uttered through the mouth, as speech or song. In acting, it’s a crucial tool for conveying character, emotion, and narrative.
Voice Coach: A specialist who works with actors to develop their vocal skills, including diction, projection, accent, and singing, for the enhancement of a performance.
Want: Refers to the specific desire or need that a character has in a scene or throughout the play, which drives their actions and choices.
Wardrobe: The garments and costumes an actor wears during a performance, managed by the wardrobe department, which contribute significantly to the portrayal and understanding of a character.
Warm-Up: Exercises and activities performed by actors before rehearsals or performances to prepare their voices and bodies, ensuring they are ready to perform.
Wings: The areas that are part of a stage deck but offstage (left and right) used for actors preparing to enter, storage of props, and other stage elements.
Workshop: A session or series of sessions in which actors engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project, often involving experimentation and the development of new techniques or content.
Wrap: In film and television, the completion of shooting either at the end of the day or when the entire project is finished.