The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line
A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor 30 seconds before it is needed on stage
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
The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as not to collide with the walls, the furniture, the
orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except that the pawns want to argue with you.
A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule where actors frantically write down
movements which will be nowhere in evidence by opening night
Any show with which you were directly involved
Every show with which you were not directly involved
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
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 dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches
fire and the director has a nervous breakdown. Also known as hell week.
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
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
The night before opening when no rehearsal is scheduled so the actors and crew can go
home and get some well-deserved rest, and instead spend the night staring sleeplessly
at the ceiling because they're sure they needed one more rehearsal
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
Room shared by nervous actors waiting to go
on stage and the
children whose actor parents couldn't get a
baby-sitter that night, a
situation which can result in justifiable homicide
An area of the stage 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
Appendages at the end of the arms used for
environment, except on a stage, where they grow
six times their normal size
either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try
to hide in your pockets
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
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
(1) 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; (2) for first-time male actors, a helpless
look and anything they can borrow
The part of an actors brain which contains
lines, blocking and characterization; activated by hot lights
The part of an actors brain that keeps up a
running subtext in the background while the forebrain is trying to act;
the hindbrain supplies a constant stream of unwanted information, such as
who is sitting in the second row tonight, a notation to seriously maim the crew
member who thought it would be funny to put real Tabasco sauce in the fake Bloody Marys,
or the fact that you need to do laundry on Sunday.
Group of individuals who spend their
evenings coping with 50-minute
stretches of total boredom interspersed with
30-second bursts of mindless
Any play which its director describes as
"worthwhile," "a challenge to
actors and audience alike," or "designed to make
the audience think."
will be impressed both by the daring material and
the roomy accommodations,
since they're likely to have the house all to
Any play which requires various states of
undress on stage and whose
set sports a lot of doors. The lukewarm reviews,
all of which feature the
phrase "typical community theater fare" in the
opening paragraph, are
followed paradoxically by a frantic attempt to
schedule more performances to
accommodate the overflow crowds.
Individual willing to undertake special
projects that nobody else
would take on a bet, such as working one-on-one
with the brain-dead actor
whom the rest of the cast has threatened to take
out a contract on.
Any large piece of furniture which actors
will resolutely use as a
safety shield between themselves and the audience,
in an apparent attempt to
both anchor themselves to the floor, thereby
avoiding floating off into
space, and to keep the audience from seeing that
they actually have legs
The time immediately following the last
performance while all cast and
crew members are required to stay and dismantle,
or watch the two people who
own Makita screw drivers dismantle, the set.
Actors (as defined by a set designer)
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
Gloria Dennison, Stage Coach Players, Dekalb, Illinois
Stage Right, Stage Left
Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to
drive directors crazy. ("No, no, your OTHER stage right!")
Greg Quillinan, Florham Park Players, Morris Plains, NJ
Just remember: It's only Community Theatre until it offends
someone ... then it's ART!
Teri Robert, Actor's Guild of Parkersburg, WV
An Actor's Guide to Performance
Hold for all laughs---real, expected, or imagined! If you don't get
one, face front and repeat the line louder. Failing this, laugh at it
Cultivate an attitude of hostility. Tension gets results---on stage
A good performance, like concrete, should be molded quickly and then
Your first responsibility as an actor is to find your light.
Do not listen to your fellow actors on stage. It will only throw you.
Do not look at them either---you may not like what you see.
Always be specific---point to what you're talking about.
If a line isn't working for you, change it.
Stage Managers are NOT actors---ignore them. Keep them alert by never
arriving on time or signing in.
Never be afraid to ad-lib to get attention, especially if you feel the
leads aren't very entertaining.
Mistakes are never your fault.
Always find something to bitch about, no matter how small or seemingly
insignificant. Your fellow actors will respect your professional
attention to detail.
Never carry make-up---someone will have what you need.
Never help understudies. (They secretly hate you and want your job)
Do help your fellow actors by giving them notes whenever you feel
necessary. And give the notes immediately before they go on---it
will be fresher that way.
Speak your lines as if the audience had difficulty understanding the
Keep other performers on their toes by ridiculing their performances,
and never let them know what you're going to do next.
Play the reality---always be aware of the audience and whether you
think they like the show, then gauge your performance accordingly. Why
knock yourself out for ungrateful snobs?
The only difference between an amateur and a pro is that the pro does
exactly the same thing for money.
Need a character? Get a costume.
Never change anything that is working, no matter how wrong or phony it
When in doubt about an ad-lib, go "whoo"!
Go up on a line? Clap twice, look at the audience, and giggle.
Even if a piece of "schtick" doesn't work, keep using it. The
important thing is for you to have fun and feel good about yourself.
What's the definition of a minor second?
Two flutists playing in unison.
How do you get two piccolos to play in perfect unison?
What's the difference between an oboe and an onion?
Nobody cries when you chop up an oboe.
What's the difference between playing an English horn solo and wetting your pants?
Nothing. Both give you a warm feeling but no one else cares.
What's the difference between a bassoon and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on the trampoline.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from the bassoon recital.
Why do clarinetists leave their cases on their dashboards?
So they can park in handicapped zones.
What's the definition of a nerd?
Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.
What do you call a bass clarinetist with half a brain?
What's the difference between a lawn mower and a soprano sax?
You can tune a lawn mower, and the owner's neighbors will be upset if you
borrow the lawn mower and don't return it.
How many alto sax players does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to handle the bulb and four others to contemplate how David
Sanborn would have done it.
If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions: an
in-tune tenor sax player, an out-of-tune tenor sax player, or Santa Claus?
The out-of-tune sax player. Meeting the other two indicates that you're
How do you make a chain saw sound like a baritone sax?
How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to handle the bulb and four others to tell him how much better
they could have done it.
How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
Put your hand in the bell and miss a lot of notes.
What's the definition of a gentleman?
Someone who knows how to play the trombone but chooses not to.
What's the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
Skid marks in front of the snake.
What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
The country singer may have been on his way to a recording session.
What's the range of a tuba?
About twenty yards if you have a good arm.
What's a tuba for?
1 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Why do drummers have half an ounce more brains than horses?
So they don't disgrace themselves in parades.
What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They have machines that do that now.
What does a timpanist say when he gets a gig?
"Would you like fries with that, sir?"
What did the timpanist get on his I.Q. test?
What's the definition of a quarter tone?
A harpist tuning unison strings.
Why are a pianists' fingers like lightning?
They rarely strike the same spot twice.
How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?
The bow is moving.
Why is a violinist like a Scud missile?
Both are offensive and inaccurate.
What do violinists use for birth control?
How do you make a violin sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.
How do you know if a viola section is at your front door?
No one knows when to come in.
What's the difference between a violist and a dog?
The dog knows when to stop scratching.
How do you get a violist to play a downbow staccato?
Put a tenuto mark over a whole note and mark it solo.
Why are violins smaller than violas?
They are actually the same size. Violinists' heads are larger.
What's the difference between a cello and a viola?
The cello burns longer.
What's the difference between a cello and a coffin?
The coffin has the corpse inside.
Why are orchestral intermissions limited to 20 minutes?
So you don't have to retrain the cellists.
Why did the bass player get mad at the timpanist?
The timpanist turned a peg and wouldn't tell him which one.
How can you tell if a bass player is really bad?
Even the section notices.
How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?
None. The piano player can do that with his left hand.
How does a soprano change a light bulb?
She just holds it in the socket and the whole world revolves around her.
What's the difference between a soprano and the PLO?
You can negotiate with the PLO.
What's the difference between a dressmaker and an alto?
The dressmaker tucks up the frills.
If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end...
It would be a good idea.
What do you call ten baritones at the bottom of the ocean?
What's the difference between a bull and an orchestra?
The bull has the horns in the front and the a** in back.
If you drop a conductor and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?
What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
Why are conductors' hearts coveted for transplants?
They've had so little use.
A musician calls the symphony office to talk to a conductor. He's told
that the conductor has died, then calls back 25 times, getting the same
message each time. The receptionist asks, "Why do you keep calling?"
"I just like to hear you say it."
Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
To get away from the noise.
How do you get a guitar to play softer?
Give him a sheet of music.
What do a vacuum cleaner and an electric guitar have in common?
When you plug them in, they both suck.
How many soundmen does it take to change a light bulb?
One, two, three... one, two, three...
"Hey buddy, how late does the band play?"
"Oh, about half a beat behind the drummer."