Stage Management Glossary

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Special Thanks to the Columbia Stage Management MFA Class of 2016 and Professor Bonnie Panson For Collaborating to Create this Glossary

ApronThe area of the stage in front of the procenium
BalconyThe area of the audience viewing from the second floor of the theatre
Deck The stage floor
DownstageThe part of the stage nearest to the audience
Flies The area above the stage where scenic or lighting instruments are hoisted to be out of the audience's view
Front of House (FOH)The area from the entrance of the theatre to the procenium arch
LegA long and narrow drape hung to mask backstage
OrchestaThe area of audience seating nearest the stage
PitThe area where the orchestras sits, typically sunken below the front of the stage
Procenium Arch The arch that frames the stage from the audience's perspective
RakeThe angle of incline from downstage to upstage
Upstage The area of the stage furtherst away from the audience
WingsThe area directly off of the stage
A1The lead crewmember of the audio department who mixes the show during performance and maintains it's aural consistency
A2The assistant to the lead crewmember of the audio department who maintains all mics and equipment backstage
Artistic Director In not-for-profit theatre companies, the person that has final decision making on the entire season and that maintains the company's mission statement
Carpenter The crewmembers that handle all scenery
Company ManagerThe person that cares for the day-to-day needs of the entire company on behalf of the general manager and producer, particularly in terms of contracts, travel, and ammentieis
Conductor The leader of the orchestra
ChoreographerThe creator of the dances in a show
Dance ArrangerWorks closely with the choreographer to write dance music based on composers themes.
Dance CaptainThe cast member that is responsible for helping teach, maintain, and noting the show's choreography.
DesignerThe person who designs a specific element of the show, i.e. set, props, costumes, lights, sound, projection, etc.
DirectorThe person leading the entire production towards a their vision
DresserThe crewmembers that assist the actors change costumes during the show
ElectricianThe crewmembers that handle all light equipment
General Manager (GM)The person or persons that handle the show's budget by negotiating contracts, interfacing with investors, and supervising marketing and ticket sales
MixerThe crewmember that is listening to the performance and adjusting the volume outputs of each audio source
OrchestraThe musicians who plays at the performance
ProducerThe person with final say on creative and financial production decisions
Production Manager (PM)The person that creates the first production budget and oversees the build and load-in of all production elements
Production Stage Manager (PSM)The lead stage manager who delegates all stage management tasks
Run CrewThe generic name for all crewmembers working during a particular show
Allen Wrench / Hex KeyA hexagonal cross-section used to drive bolts and screws that have a hexagonal socket. Commonly used to lock/unlock push bar doors
Block and TackleA pulley system consisting of single continuous rope to transmit a tension force around one or more pulleys to lift or move a heavy load.
CableA rope made of wires
CarabineerA metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to quickly and reversibly connect components, most notably in safety-critical systems. Commonly used for fall protection
Double Purchase 1:2 weight relationship
Fiber Optic CableA rope of wires, conataining one of more optical fibers
Genie LiftA machine used to lift people and small items straight upwards
LashAn arrangement of rope wire or webbing with linking device used to secure and fasten two or more items together in a somewhat rigid manner
LeverA rigid bar resting on a pivot, used to help move a heavy or firmly fixed load with one end when pressure is applied to the other.
Loose Pin HingeA hinge with two plates that are separated by a removable pin.
Piano HingeA hinge that has a thin pin joint and extends along the full length of the part to be moved.
PSIThe pound per pound-force per square inch: lbf/in^2
PVCA synthetic plastic polymer comes in two basic forms: rigid (used in construction for pipe, windows, doors) and flexible (plumbing, electrical cable insulation, imitation leather, rubber replacement)
PneumaticsCompressed air power. An electrical powered compressor compresses gas (air, nitrogen, oxygen, etc.), and converts that stored energy into force
Scissor LiftA machine that raises, lowers, and position materials and personnel by the closing or opening of crossed supports pivoted - like the two halves of a pair of scissors
Standard Counterweight 1:1 weight relationship
RelayAn electrically operated switch
WireA thin, flexible metal rod
AnalogA wave is recorded or used in its original form
BandwidthThe maximum amount of data a network can transfer.
BinaryA numeral system which represents numeric values using only two symbols (Usually 0 and 1)
DigitalAn analog wave is sampled and turned into numbers stored in a device
EncoderA device, circuit, transducer, software program, algorithm or person that converts information from one format or code to another, for the purposes of standardization, speed, secrecy, security or compressions.
Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM)A device that allows the user to operate multiple computers at once
LASERStands for: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A device that generates an intense beam of coherent monochromatic light
Fire WireApple Computer's version of a standard, IEEE 1394, High Performance Serial Bus, for connecting devices to your personal computer. FireWire provides a single plug-and-socket connection on which up to 63 devices can be attached with data transfer speeds up to 400 Mbps (megabits per second).
NetworkWhen one or more compute is connected, a network is created.
Network CommunicationsConnected devices speaking to one another
A VistaWhen changing the scenery in view of the audience
Apple BoxVersatile wooden crates used as unseen, but needed scenic pieces
BorderA short drape hung to mask visible flies
Commando Cloth / Duvetyn A versatile and durable drapery fabric. Commonly used as black masking fabric, as it is most economical choice.
Cyclorama (Cyc) A large piece of white fabric hung on a curved pipe against the back wall of a theatre that can be projected on
Dry IceA cold, dense white mist produced by solid carbon dioxide in air, used for theatrical effects. Should not have direct contact with skin.
Fire CurtainA fire-proof curtain that may be lowered in front of the house curtain in the case of fire
Escape StairsAKA Carry-Off. A set of stairs out of the view of the audience that provides actors access to the set
PracticalA scenic elements that works on stage
ScrimA theatrical gauze curtain that when lit from the front is opaque and when lit from the back is transparent
Soft GoodsA term for all curtains and drops
FittingAn appointment for an actor to try on their costumes
Quick ChangeA costume change that occurs during a performance that must be completed in the short amount of time between an actor's exit and re-entrance
Auto-Fly (AF)*Automation that raises and lowers scenery into the audience's view
(*note, same abbreviation as Autofollow)
Auto-Deck (AD)Automation that moves scenic pieces that are in a track on the deck.
AnimatronicsThe use of anatomy, robotics, mechatronics, and puppetry to create life-like robots
DogA low-friction piece of equipment that can accept a knife being slid into it from the top
E-StopEmergency Stop Button
EffectA piece of scenery that can move on a track
ElevatorA platform that raises and lowers things
HydraulicsPressurized Liquid Power
JoggingA function that allows you to determine and fine-tune the motor stop position.
KnifeA removable piece of metal that attaches to the scenery and into the dog through a narrow slit cut into the deck
LimitAs far as the machine is able to move in either direction.
PneumaticsCompressed air power. An electrical powered compressor compresses gas (air, nitrogen, oxygen, etc), and converts that stored energy into force
Show ControlThe use of automation technology to link together and operate multiple entertainment control systems in a coordinated manner.
Sunroof / SloatA 'sliding, lifting, opening, automated trap' on the floor of a stage that opens to allow things to move between the deck and the basement
TargetThe position at the end of a move
TrackRails in the stage floor or stage deck along which scenery can be moved
WinchA hauling and lifting device powered by a crank or motor
Autofollow (AF)*When one cue is programmed to automatically follow the cue preceding it
(*note, same abbreviation as Auto-Fly)
Batten / PipeA metal tube used to hang lighting instruments on
Bounce DropA canvas or muslin drop, unpainted, used to "bounce" light onto back of a scrim
Boom A vertical pipe on the edge of the deck used to hang lighting instruments
BumpAn instant cue change
CheatTo move a light slightly to avoid unwanted light spill
Dead HungWhen an instrument is permanently mounted above the stage
DimmerA devices used to lower the brightness of a light
DMX512-AA digital multiplex cable that links controllers to dimmers and special effects devices
Gel A thin sheet of plastic used to color light
Ghost LightThe light left on in the theatre after everyone leaves
GobosA physical stencil or template slotted placed in front of a lighting source, used to control the shape of emitted light
Followspot (FS)A crewmember run spotlight that follows and focuses on a specific character
Light LadderA metal ladder used to hang lighting instruments
PanWhen moving a lighting instrument on the horizontal plane (opposite "tilt")
Parallel CircuitAn electricity connection with multiple paths - if one part of the chain goes out, the others stay on.
Pin SpotA spotlight focused on a small area, i.e. an actor's head
Series Circuit An electiricy connection through one long chain - if one part of the chain goes out, all parts go out.
TiltWhen moving a lighting instrument on the vertical plane. (opposite "pan")
Click trackA click track is a series of audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings, sometimes for synchronization to a moving image
Fair UseThe doctrine that explains that a copyright may be infringed upon for the purpose of news, education, criticism, and research
FeedbackAn unpleasant sound that occurs when a microphone picks up the output of a speaker and re-amplifies it
Phone Connector1/4" cable that connects to most audio devices
RCA Cable A two-wire audio connector
XLR CableA commonly used cable for connecting microphones to sound systems
Key FrameThe frames that define the starting and ending points of each movement in a story
MPTE TimecodeA system that assigns numeric codes at regular intervals to faciliate percise timing synchronization
RenderThe process of combining all video elements into a single digital frame
ZoomA camera shot that changes smoothly from a long shot to a close-up, or vice versa
Bar / Measure A segment of time defined by a given number of beats, each of which are assigned a particular note value. Dividing music into bars provides regular reference points to pinpoint locations within a piece of music.
Bass ClefThe lower half of a bar of music, containing all notes below middle C
Time SignatureA fraction that informs how many beats are in each measure of music.
Treble ClefMusic - the high part. The pretty sign at the start of the top staff that tell the reader their reading the higher line or the 'treble clef.'
MarleyA type of portable dance floor consisting of thin rubberized sheets
Physical Therapy A service provided to treat injuries with physical treatments like massage, heat, and exercise.
RosinA solid resin used by dancers (on feet, shoes, and hands) to prevent slippage.
SupernumeraryAn "extra" in a ballet or opera, typically used to fill out crowd scenes