Backdrop In England, called the backcloth. A painted canvas or plain surface upon which light could be shown, it was flown or hung from the grid and, in combination with wings, was used to form a set on stage. Now generally replaced by the box set.
Backing A flat used to mask the area behind a door, window or other opening on a set.
Backstage The entire area behind or beyond the stage, including the dressing rooms. Sometimes includes the "wings", or sides of the stage area.
Ballad Opera A forerunner of English Opera and musical comedy, ballad operas were primarily a creature of the 18th century British stage, and were topical plays of spoken dialogue with a large number of musical numbers consisting of lyrics set to popular tunes.
Bard A person who composed and recited heroic or epic poems, often accompanied by lyre or harp. "The Bard" is now synonymous with William Shakespeare.
Barn Door A device fitted into the gel frame holder of a lighting instrument consisting of four pieces. Used to direct or focus the light beam.
Batten A long pipe or strip of wood flown from the grid from which scenery, drops, or lights are hung.
Beat The smallest unit of dramatic action.
Below An archaic stage direction used in 16th century plays to denote the relative position of an actor to one "above".
Black Box Definition.
Blocking The process of determining the placement or location of actors on stage and planning their relative movement in a scene.
Boards Component parts of the stage floor, running upstage to downstage, across joists running from left to right. To "tread the boards" means to be an actor.
Boat Truck A platform, built on casters, that can be used to move set pieces and scenery on and off stage. A larger variant is called the wagon stage, and can be used to transport entire sets.
Book Usually refers to the spoken dialogue in a musical, as opposed to the music and the lyrics. May also refer to the spoken dialogue in any play, when used to refer to an actor who has memorized his or her lines as being "off-book". See, Libretto
Book Flats Flats which are hinged together and then opened to form one large flat.
Book Wings Also know as revolving wings. Pieces of scenery attached so that they can be swung about to change the scene.
Boom A vertical pipe with a heavy base to which lighting instruments may be attached.
Border (cloth) A narrow strip of muslin or other cloth used to mask the flies from the sight of the audience. Sometimes the border cloth was shaped to appear as foliage or clouds. In TCT's debut production in the Lyric we made use of such foliage cloth in On Golden Pond.
Border (light) Strips of medium wattage lights hung above the stage, usually in a metal trough. See, foot-lights.
Box Office Also known as the ticket booth, this is the enclosed area, usually found in or adjoining the lobby, where reserved (or "box") seating tickets are sold.
Box Set A standard interior set consisting of three walls, with the fourth wall removed so the audience can observe the action. The side walls are often set at an angle sloping outward at the downstage end to assist sightlines.
Brace Jack Also called a french brace or simply a brace. A triangular construction, usually of one by two's or two by two's, hinged or attached to a flat to support it. Braces are weighted or attached to the stage as needed to provide stability
Bridge Also known as an elevator, a bridge is used to lift heavy scenery or a tableau of actors from beneath the stage to stage level. Usually used in larger theatres, electronically controlled bridges make possible some of the more spectacular effects seen in productions such as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.
Built Stuff Set pieces or scenery which are built or constructed especially for a production.
Burlesque American usage refers to a sex and comedy variety show originally intended for male audiences only. In England, the burlesque refers to a satirical play or parody on some contemporary theme.
Business A bit of action in a play, such as pouring a drink, tuning a radio, cleaning or dusting furniture -- used to establish a character, take up a pause in dialogue, or establish the scene.
Busker Itinerant open-air street players such as jugglers, conjurers or acrobats. May have derived from the term "buskin", which referred to the long boot worn by actors in Greek tragedy, and gradually came to mean any itinerant performer.