Eternity - The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line.

Prop - 1.  A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor shortly before it's needed on stage.  2. Anything that gets in the way of a scene change.

Director - The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic in the local review.

Blocking - The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as to not collide with the walls, furniture, orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except the pawns want to argue.

Quality Theater - Any show with which you were directly involved.

Turkey - Every show with which you were not directly involved.

Final Dress Rehearsal - Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt to maneuver among the 49 objects that the set designer added at 7:30 that evening.

Tech Week - The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; reaches its grand climax on final dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown.

Set - An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while continuing to occupy the same amount of space.

Monologue - That shining moment when all eyes are focused on a single actor who is desperately aware that if he forgets a line, no one can save him.

Bit Part - An opportunity for the actor with the smallest role to count everybody else's lines and mention repeatedly that he or she has the smallest part in the show.

Dark Spot - The stage area which the lighting designer has inexplicably forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the first-time actor. A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

Hands - Appendages at the end of the arms used for manipulating one's environment, except on a stage, where they grow six times their normal size and either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try to hide in your pockets.

Stage Manager - Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, baby-sitting the actors and putting the director in a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks while he serves the tea.

Lighting Director - Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing a play-by-play of everything that's going wrong. One who whines, throws fits, and says This is the last show I'm doing here! I swear to God !

Makeup Kit - among experienced community theater actors, a battered tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint in various stages of desiccation, tubes of lipstick and blush, assorted pencils, bobby pins, braids of crepe hair, liquid latex, old programs, jewelry, break-a-leg greeting cards from past shows, brushes and a handful of half-melted cough drops.

Stage Crew - Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic.

Strike - The time immediately following the last performance that all cast and crew members are required to watch the two people who own Makita screw drivers dismantle the set.

Actors - People who stand between the audience and the set designer's art, blocking the view. That's also the origin of the word blocking, by the way.

Stage Right, Stage Left - Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to drive directors crazy. (No, no, your OTHER right!)


Or to put it another way ....



IN is down, DOWN is front

OUT is up, UP is back

OFF is out, ON is in,

And of course,

RIGHT is left, LEFT is right.

A DROP shouldn't and a

BLOCK AND FALL does neither.

A PROP doesn't and

A COVE has no water.


A RUNNING CREW rarely gets anywhere.

A PURCHASE LINE will buy you nothing.

A TRAP will not catch anything.

STRIKE is work. (In fact, lots of work)

And a GREEN ROOM, thankfully, usually isn't.

Now that you're fully versed in theatrical terms,

Break a leg - but not really!




Just remember: It's only theatre until it offends someone … then it's ART!


Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound
Is More Powerful Than A Locomotive
Is Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
Walks On Water
Gives Policy To God


Leaps Short Buildings In A Single Bound
Is More Powerful Than A Switch Engine
Is Just As Fast As A Speeding Bullet
Walks On Water If The Sea Is Calm
Talks With God


Leaps Short Buildings With A Running Start
Is Almost As Powerful As A Switch Engine
Is Faster Than A Speeding BB
Swims Well
Is Occasionally Addressed By God


Makes High Marks On The Wall When Trying To Leap Buildings
Is Run Over By Locomotives
Can Sometimes Handle A Gun Without Inflicting Self-Injury
Dog Paddles
Talks To Animals


Runs Into Buildings
Recognizes Locomotives Two Out Of Three Times
Is Not Issued Ammunition
Can Stay Afloat With A Life Preserver
Talks To Walls


Falls Over Doorsteps When Trying To Enter Buildings
Says, Look At The Choo-Choo!
Wets Self With A Water Pistol
Plays In Mud Puddles
Mumbles To Self

Stage Manager:

Lifts Buildings And Walks Under Them
Kicks Locomotives Off The Track
Catches Speeding Bullets In Teeth And Eats Them
Freezes Water With A Single Glance

  • Actors are props with dialogue.
  • Beat to fit, paint to match.
  • If force doesn't work, you're not using enough.
  • Done is best.
  • An actor without techies is a naked person standing in the dark trying to emote. A techie without actors is a person with marketable skills.
  • And on the first day the lord said... L X 1, GO! and there was light.
  • It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
  • EVERY theater company mirrors the Muppet show. Think about it.
  • John Wilkes Boothe should have shot an actor...
  • Love-it, Lock-it, Leave-it, NEXT...
  • Let the actors finish it.
  • I don't make mistakes, I have unintentional improvisations.
  • Hmmm. What would a smart guy do?
  • Our techies practice safe sets and Techies do it on cue.
  • Work sucks. I'm going to the theatre.
  • Life's a stage and we're constantly changing the scenery.
  • Extras are props that eat...
  • Umm, 'scuze me, your techies are showing...!
  • If we could read minds, we wouldn't need headsets.
  • Hey, I forgot my cue sheet, oh well, I'll make it up. I wonder if they'll notice?

(thank you to Rebecca Phillips for sending these)


  • Audio Manager: person who stands at the back of the room staring at a board with countless knobs, screaming: "Where is that ringing coming from? It wasn't there a minute ago!"

From Ricky Bach         


We want everyone who attends a live theatre performance to thoroughly enjoy that performance.  Below are a few items, that if followed, will greatly enhance the experience for all concerned.

Please remember that this is not a movie.  The people on the stage can hear and see you.  Your reactions fuel them.  Your negative actions can also affect them.  Although you may never see this reaction, because being performers, they are skilled at hiding them, you are affecting them.  The performers and all those people behind the scenes have worked very hard to create an evening of entertainment for you.  Please show them the respect they deserve.

Also remember that the people sitting near you did not come to hear your conversation with your buddy, either in the theatre or on the phone.  They did not come to hear you rattle paper or your kid fuss.  They came to enjoy the performance.

No cell phones:  Turn Them Off!  Not silent, Off.  Any buzz, chirp, ring or flash is a distraction and extremely rude during a performance.  Do not speak or text on them during a performance.  If you must take an emergency call, leave the auditorium and only begin speaking to your caller once you are away from the rest of the audience.  Even your neat watch that chimes or beeps the hour is a distraction.

Coming and Going:  Please do not enter or leave the auditorium during a performance unless it is an emergency.  Please arrive before the performance begins. The time posted is the time the show actually starts... there are no commercials or previews!  It is the option of the theatre to prevent audience members from entering the auditorium until intermission or at least a scene change.

Noises:  You may not notice it, but candy or cough drop wrappers, whether unwrapped quickly or slowly, make a lot of noise!  Please don't unwrap them during the performance.  If you suspect you will need one, have a supply on hand already unwrapped.

Noises, part two:  We love babies, but if they fuss or fidget or cry, we want them to be somewhere else.

Fidgeting:  Please sit still.  Ramming elbows into your neighbor or kicking the seat in front of you is highly annoying.

Sight Lines:  Be aware that hats and large hairdos impede sight lines.

Pictures:  Usually photography of any kind is prohibited during a performance.  Check with the theatre, and if they do allow you to take pictures, don't use the flash or the video light.  If you would like a picture of the cast, ask the theatre manager.  They will probably be happy to assemble the cast after the performance for a short photo session.

Now for some Dos:

  • Do laugh in the appropriate places.
  • Do applaud with enthusiasm in the appropriate places.
  • Do tell all your friends, after the show, what a great time you had.


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Apparently we are not alone:

"Growth as an actor and as a human being are synonymous." ~Stella Adler

"An ounce of behavior is worth a pound of words." ~Sanford Meisner

"You can throw away the privilege of acting, but that would be such a shame. The tribe has elected you to tell its story. You are the shaman/healer, that's what the storyteller is, and I think it's important for actors to appreciate that. Too often actors think it's all about them, when in reality it's all about the audience being able to recognize themselves in you. The more you pull away from the public, the less power you have on screen." ~Ben Kingsley

"Do not be full of yourself, but be full of your part." ~Boucicault

"In your choice is your talent." ~Adler

"The Play is the Master and I am it's Whore!  ~Charles Jeffries

"Thus play I in one play many persons."     ~shakie

"The theatre has built a whole art round the actor, based on the man and his double - the actor and his character."  ~Jean-Louis Barrault

"An actor is a sculptor who carves in snow."   ~Lawrence Barrett

"Acting isn't really a creative profession. It's an interpretive one."   ~Paul Newman

"The teeth lie, the hair deceives, but the wrinkles tell the truth."    ~Old Spanish Proverb

"Acting is the art of speaking in a loud, clear voice and the avoidance of bumping into the furniture."    ~Alfred Lunt

"An actor is part illusionist, part artist, part ham."    ~Oscar Wilde

"I love acting. It is so much more real than life."    ~Oscar Wilde

"What are we going to do for the rest of our lives? Sit and watch the parade go by? Amuse ourselves with the glass menagerie?"    ~From Glass Menagerie

"All the world's a stage and the men and women on it merely players."   ~Shakespeare

"There is as much difference between the stage and films as between a piano and a violin. Normally you can't become a virtuoso in both."  ~Ethel Barrymore, 1956

"In London, theatregoers expect to laugh; in Paris, they wait grimly for proof that they should."  ~Robert Dhery, 1958

"Like hungry guests, a sitting audience looks / Plays are like suppers; poets are the cooks / The founder's you; the table is this place / The carvers we; the prologue is the grace / Each act a course, each scene, a different dish." ~George Farquhar, 1702

"You need three things in the theatre -- the play, the actors and the audience, and each must give something."  ~Kenneth Haigh, 1958

"We do not go to the theatre like our ancestors, to escape from the pressure of reality, so much as to confirm our experience of it."   ~Charles Lamb, 1823

"It's called acting." ~Lawrence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman.

(In attempting to research this quote, I found this on  Upon learning that his Marathon Man costar Dustin Hoffman had stayed awake for two days to look properly exhausted in one scene, he told the younger actor, "You should try acting, my boy. It's much easier.")

"Theatre takes place all the time -- wherever one is -- and art simply facilitates persuading one this is the case."   ~John Cage, 1961

"In my plays I want to look at life -- at the commonplace of existence -- as if we had just turned a corner and run into it for the first time."  ~Christopher Fry, 1950

"The theatre, when all is said and done, is not life in miniature, but life enormously magnified, life hideously exaggerated."    ~H. L. Mencken, 1919

"The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost." ~Arthur Miller, 1958

"Great drama is the souvenir of the adventure of a master among the pieces of his own soul."  ~George Jean Nathan, 1923

"It is the destiny of the theatre nearly everywhere and in every period to struggle even when it is flourishing."  ~Howard Taubman, 1964

"We live in what is, but we find a thousand ways not to face it. Great theatre strengthens our faculty to face it."  ~Thornton Wilder, 1958

"If you can't act, behave!"  ~John Igo

"You know...I worked in the theatre for five years before I learned that 'F***ing Electricians' was really TWO words."

"There are two impulses in theatre: to be frivolous or to make rules." ~Tadashi Suzuki

"Realism is something we practice when we aren't feeling very well. When we don't feel up to the extra effort." ~Robert Edmund Jones

"Cruelty in the theatre is unrelenting decisiveness, diligence, strictness." ~Antonin Artaud

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." ~Goethe

"Creativity is first of all an act of destruction." ~Picasso

"When you feel ten in your seven." ~Zeami : Japanese originator of Noh drama

"Embarrassment is a partner in the creative act." ~Charles Jeffries

"The object is freedom." ~Anne Bogart


Lots More Quotes Here:



Charles Jeffries, Linda Shuler, Anna Gangai, Laurie Dietrich, W. Chris Champlin - Thank you for providing your favorite quotes.  Do you have one to add?  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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