Theater Slang

Ever hear someone say break a leg or talk about blocking and you aren't quite sure what they mean? Well, here are some common Theatre phrases and their meanings to help you out!

Blocking: The staging of actors or determining where actors should stand and how they should move on the stage. 

Break A Leg: A way of saying Good Luck to performers as saying good luck in the theatre is actually considered back luck. 

Corpse: A term used to describe when an actor breaks character during a performance.

Fourth Wall: An imaginary wall that separates the audience from the action on stage.

Ghost Light: A light left on center stage when the theatre is empty. It has practical reasons; illuminating the theatre so that nobody gets hurt leaving or coming in when it is dark. But there are also superstitious reasons for it, it allows theatre ghosts to perform onstage when the theatre is otherwise empty.  

Monologue: A long speech by one actor that expresses the characters inner thoughts and feelings. Check out some famous monologues here

Understudy: An actor who goes on in place of another performer in the event they are unable to. 

Standing Ovation: When an audience stands in applause, usually during bows and the end of a show.

Quick Change: A costume change happening off stage that tries to get a performer out of one costume and into another as quickly as possible. Check out some impressive quick changes here

11 o'clock number: A big showstopping number performed in the second act of a musical. Think Rose's Turn from Gypsy or Memory from Cats.


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