Make-Up See, Grease-Paint.
Mark The place on stage, in relation to the set and scenery, where a player is to deliver a particular line or commence some action. During rehearsals, actors practice "finding their marks".
Mask Head-dress used to cover the face and enable the wearer to portray a particular character or animal. In theater, the term often refers to the masks worn by actors in Greek tragedy. Some accounts, perhaps apocryphal, state that these masks, in conjunction with devices contained in them, were necessitated by the vast size of Greek ampitheatres (the largest of which could hold between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators). It is more likely, however, that they were used for traditional reasons of permitting one actor to play more than one role and to lend dignity and mystery to the portrayal of the character.
Masking Specially designed scenic units and flats designed to conceal or "mask" areas of the stage and backstage.
Masque Form of entertainment during the late middle ages, Renaissance through the Reformation, which combined poetry, music, scenery and elaborate costumes. Like mystery plays and pageants, masques constitute a connection between classical theatre and modern theatre. Masques grew out of folk ritual in which guests would visit a nobleman or king and deliver gifts on some special occasion or holiday. In masques during the 17th Century, it was not unusual for royalty to participate in masques an oft-cited example being Louis XIV's portrayal of the Sun-King in the Ballet Nuit.
Mechane In ancient Greek theatre a crane-like device used to enable actors and pieces of scenery to appear to fly through the air or be lowered from the heavens. See, deus ex machina. From this term we derive the word "machine".
Melodrama Originally referred to popular plays in the late 18th and 19th centuries featuring incidental music. Generally involved gothic settings in which virtue triumphed over vice. In the modern sense, the term refers to any piece in which emotions are exaggerated.
Method Introspective approach to acting that aims at extreme naturalism, in which the actor seeks to identify inwardly with the character and work from this inner motivation to outward signs of character. Based on the writings and teachings of Constantin Stanislavsky, the method was brought into notoriety through its adoption by the Actor's Studio, founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan and others, later including Lee Strasberg.
Middle Comedy Term applied to the last two plays of Aristophanes in ancient Greek theatre, and to those of his immediate successors in the early and middle 4th Century B.C. Plays of the Middle Comedy emphasized plot more and contained less revelry and broad satire than the plays of Old Comedy.
Mime Originally, mimes were actors in ancient Rome who performed in a popular, spoken form or farcical drama. The emphasis was on character-development rather than plot. It is thought that mimes were among those who kept theatrical traditions alive during the Middle Ages. In its modern sense, the term has nothing to do with the Roman definition, and is more akin to the Roman pantominus, being entirely dependent on gesture and movement.
Monodrama Short solo piece for one actor or actress supported by a chorus or silent figures.
Monologue Long speech by a single actor. Similar to soliloquy. The speech is generally made by the actor as if speaking to himself and is revealing of his or her thoughts or feelings.
Mugging Playing obviously to the audience. See, also, corpsing.
Muses, The There were nine muses in Greek mythology -- the daughters of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory. Three of these were particularly connected with theater: Melpomene, the muse of tragedy; Terpischore, the muse of dancing; and Thalia, the muse of comedy.
Musical Play in which the story is told through a combination of spoken dialogue and musical numbers. Originally, the plot was slight and the musical numbers had little connection to, and did little to advance the plot. Development of the musical was particularly advanced by innovative plays such as Porgy and Bess and Oklahoma!