ACTING TERMINOLOGY

STAGE DIRECTIONS, AREAS, BODY POSITIONS, and MOVEMENT

Above:            Away from the audience (same as upstage of).

Below:            Toward the audience (same as downstage of).

Blocking:  The process of working the arrangement of actors on stage with relationship to the furniture.  Purposes are to tell the story, develop characterization, set mood, and also to create suspense.

Downstage:    Towards the audience.

In:                   Toward the center of the stage.

Out:                Away from the center of the stage.

Stage left:      The actor's left as he faces the audience.

Stage right:    The actor's right as he faces the audience.

Upstage:        Away from the audience.


STAGE AREAS

Closed:            The actor is turned away from the audience.

Countercross:    Adjustment in the opposite direction of the cross.

Cover:             An actor stands in front of another actor.
                            Rules:    1.    It is the responsibility of the downstage actor not to cover the upstage actor.
                                                2.    If you are the upstage actor and are covered, make a slight adjustment.
                                                3.    Make crosses below actors.

Cross:            Abbreviated X, it is a move from one place to another on stage.

Give, take:    When two actors are not equally open, one gives and the other takes the scene

Open:  An open position is one which faces the audience. An open turn is one which turns                                         towards the audience.
                                    Rules:    1.    Play shared scenes equally open in quarter position.
                                                   2.    Whenever possible, turn downstage, but make the most logical turn.
                                                   3.    Kneel on the downstage knee.
                                                   4.    Use your upstage arm for gestures so as to avoid covering yourself.

Share:           Two actors share when they are equally open.

Upstaging:    "One actor upstages another when he takes a position that forces the second actor to face upstage or away from the audience. Since the downstage actor is put at a disadvantage, upstaging has an unpleasant connotation and is generally to be avoided. You should take positions on the exact level of the actor with whom you are playing. Neither intentionally nor unintentionally upstage another actor unless you are directed to do so." (McGaw and Clark. Acting is Believing)

Wings:  Offstage spaces at the sides of the acting areas.


LINES and DIALOGUE, MISCELLANEOUS TERMS

Acting Area:  Two sit-down positions 6' or more apart.

Action: Pursuit of a specific goal.

Apron:   Also known as forestage, that part of the stage which juts out in front of the curtain.

Aside:  A line spoken to a character which is not supposed to be heard by others on stage.

Beat:   From the beginning to the end of an intention or objective.

Build:  Increase volume or tempo to reach a climax.

Concentration:  Giving complete attention to something. Key to effective acting.

Cue:   Line or piece of business which tells another actor it is time to speak or act.
             Pick up cues - Actors may be given the direction to pick up cues. This means to begin speaking                                       immediately as the cue is finished, and possibly even before.

Dialogue: Lines spoken by the characters in a play, scripted by a playwright. Be true to the script.

Ensemble Acting:  The stress is on the group rather than on an individual performance.

Fourth wall:  In an interior setting of four wall, the side between the actor and the audience.

Given Circumstances:  Unchangeable fact that affects the playing of the scene. Particularly important are religious, political, social, educational, and climactic facts.

Ground Plan:  Arrangement of the place of the scene. Includes walls, steps, furniture, doors and so forth.  Drawn as if directly overhead.

Motivation:  Why a character does what he/she does.

Mugging:   A derogatory term for exaggerated facial expressions.

Objective: Pursuit of a specific goal. Must be phrased in terms of action - to _____ him/her. Intention.

Obstacle: Physical or psychological hindrance or obstruction.

Point: Giving special emphasis to a word or business. For instance, the last line of a scene, act or play is usually pointed.

Properties: "Things" or "objects" which are integral to the performance.
            Kinds:    1.    Hand props - small things held in the hand (coffee cups, pens, etc.)
                           2.    Personal props - Things which are carried by an actor but are specifically used by him (watches, cigarette holders, glasses, etc.)
                           3.    Costume props - Costume accessories (gloves, etc.).
                           4.    Stage props - Items used to dress the stage (books, lamps, etc.)
             Prop table - Table placed offstage where properties are placed when not in use.

Proscenium:     The wall dividing the stage from the auditorium.

Proscenium Opening:  The opening, usually an arch, in the proscenium wall through which the audience can see the stage.

Run-through:    An uninterrupted rehearsal of the entire scene, act, or play. This is in contrast to a "working" rehearsal where director or technicians may stop the run to work problems, or a "blocking" rehearsal where director gives movement to actors.

Stealing:  Taking the audience's attention when not supposed to have it. Scene stealers are frowned upon.

Subtext:  The text beneath the text.  The meaning behind what is being said.

Telescoping:  Overlapping speeches. Used to build dramatic tension

Top:  To build a line higher than the preceding one.


NON-PROSCENIUM THEATRES

Movement and parts of the stage
Movement in non-proscenium theatres usually is given in terms of compass or clock. A director will say, "cross to 9:00", or "cross to NE".