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Acting Vocabulary
The Stage and The School Ch. on Acting
55
Film, Theatre & Television
02/22/2008

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Term
Emotional / Subjective Acting
Definition
actors play their parts in such a way that they actually weep, suffer, or struggle emotionally; they become their parts
Term
Technical / Objective Acting
Definition
use of learned skills of acting, movement, speech, and interpretation to create roles, no emotional response is used; performance based on technique
Term
Leading Roles
Definition
main characters in a play
Term
Protagonist
Definition
the main character in a play; must solve the problem that arises in the play
Term
Antagonist
Definition
person or force working against the protagonist in a play
Term
Supporting Roles
Definition
those characters who act as contrasts to others; characters with whom other characters are compared
Term
Straight Parts
Definition
a role in which the actor and the character portrayed are similar in appearance and personality
Term
Character Parts
Definition
role in which an actor portrays traits that differ from his or her own to produce a desired character
Term
Characterization
Definition
putting together all facets of a character to bring life and interest to that character
Term
Foil
Definition
an acting role that is used for personality comparison, usually with the main character
Term
Ingenue
Definition
a female lead between the ages of sixteen and thirty
Term
Juvenile
Definition
a male lead between the ages of sixteen and thirty
Term
Typecasting
Definition
identifying and casting an actor in the same kind of role aver and over
Term
Pause
Definition
a lull or a stop in dialogue or action on order to sustain emotion
Term
Versatility
Definition
the ability to change style or character with ease
Term
Countercross
Definition
movement in opposite directions by two or more actors to balance the stage picture
Term
Upstaging
Definition
improperly taking attention from an actor who should be the focus of attention
Term
“Cheat Out”
Definition
technique of pivoting the torso so that the face is toward the audience even when facing sideways
Term
“Share a scene”
Definition
situation in which two actors stand or sit parallel to eachother
Term
“Giving the Scene”
Definition
shifting audience attention from one actor to another
Term
“Turning the Scene In”
Definition
focusing audience attention on the actor who is the real center of the dramatic action by having the other actors shift their bodies and look at this key character
Term
“Taking Yourself Out Of A Scene”
Definition
the actor’s turning away from the audience into a three-quarter-back or full-back position
Term
Primary Source
Definition
the individual whose posture, movements, habits, voice inflections, and mannerisms are observed in order to build character
Term
Secondary Source
Definition
books that help in developing characterization
Term
Body Language
Definition
communication that uses gestures, posture, and facial expressions instead of words
Term
Master Gesture
Definition
a distinctive action that is repeated and serves as a clue to a character’s personality, such as a peculiar laugh or walk
Term
Subtext
Definition
the meaning “between the lines” that an actor must draw from the script
Term
Substitution
Definition
the use of an actor’s personal experience to relate to the experience of a character in a play
Term
Paraphrasing
Definition
restating lines in one’s own words
Term
Cut-off-lines
Definition
lines interrupted by another speaker and indicated by dashes in the script
Term
fade-out lines
Definition
lines that actors trail off rather than finishing
Term
laugh curve
Definition
the audience’s reaction that actors listen for in order to anticipate the length of time the audience will laugh
Term
Opera
Definition
a form of musical theater in which all conversations are sung
Term
Operetta
Definition
a form of musical theater in which the music is lighter than opera and
Term
Comic Opera
Definition
a humorous or satirical operetta
Term
Musical Revue
Definition
a production consisting of a series of independent song-and-
Term
Musical comedy
Definition
a form of musical theater; a combination of operetta and
Term
Musical Play
Definition
a form of musical theater in which the emphasis is on real people
Term
Crossover
Definition
a term that describes characters walking across the stage together or entering from opposite sides and meeting on the stage
Term
Change music
Definition
the music played between scenes while sets are being changed
Term
Spoof
Definition
a farcical literary work that pokes fun at certain subjects or time periods
Term
Satire
Definition
a style of comedy that presents humourous attacks on accepted conventions of society, holding up human vices and follies to ridicule
Term
Concept Musical
Definition
a series of loosely connected scenes that focus on a theatrical concept
Term
Hanging plot
Definition
a listing of all the flying scenery and what is on each piece, prepared by the technical director or the stage manager
Term
Storage Plot
Definition
a diagram showing how scenic units are to be stored in the wing areas during a show
Term
Backlighting
Definition
the use of lighting instruments above and behind performers to accent the performers and set them apart from the background
Term
Reversibles
Definition
a costume that is double-faced so that by reversing it the illusion of a different costume is created
Term
Coordinates
Definition
costumes that are separates, which are interchangeable, or sometimes reversible, such as ties, vests, and so on
Term
combo
Definition
a small group of instrumentalists
Term
Choreographer
Definition
a person who designs dance for the stage
Term
Choreography
Definition
the dances designed for a production
Term
Composer
Definition
a person who writes music
Term
Chorus
Definition
in present-day theater, the singers in a musical, other than the principals
Term
Overture
Definition
the music, usually a medley of the show’s songs, played at the beginning of a musical
Term
Score
Definition
the music of a show as composed