ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER ~ Also referred to as ASM, the assistant stage manager is a member of the Stage Management team. ASM’s are usually responsible for sourcing and running Props in rehearsal and the run of a show. They are a member of the stage crew in performance.

BEGINNERS ~ A call given by Stage Management to the actors who first appear onstage. Usually given approx. five minutes before start time. E.g. “Members of the _ _ _ _ _ Company this is your Beginner’s call, Act One Beginners Thank you” The cast are then called by name. A similar call is made at interval for Act Two. Crew are often called to places here if they are not in position. See also HALF HOUR CALL.

BELTPACK ~ Part of the communication (‘cans/comms’) system in a theatre, the Beltpack contains the controls (on/off and volume, circuit selection)  for the HEADSET worn by crew members. Each beltpack connects into the comms circuit via a hardwire to socket or via radio signal and back to a Power Supply Unit.

BLOCKING ~ The rehearsal process whereby the movements of the actors during the play are set. The movements are recorded in the Prompt Copy by stage management. Notation is usually made using a shorthand of symbols and initials (For example Q X USOP to K = Queen crosses upstage OP to the King) and use of a small template of the stage setting. Transitions or scene changes and the actors movements through them are also blocked, usually later in the rehearsal process, and the notation of set and furniture pieces can be developed into plots.

CALL ~ 1) The time a person is required for rehearsal or performance, actor or crew,  “Your call for tomorrow is 2pm”
2) A request for an actor/crew person to come to the stage e.g. Beginners Call
3) The Curtain Call
4) The stage manager in prompt corner “calls” the cues during the show.

CANS ~ Also Comms 1) Headset, microphone and beltpack used for communication beteen and co-ordination of technical departments during technical sessions and performance. (e.g. ‘Electrics on cans’, ‘Going off cans’, ‘Quiet on cans!’).

CLEARANCE ~ FOH – A message passed to Stage Management from the Front of House Manager just prior to the show, that the audience are seated and the show can commence. Announced as ‘We have Front of House Clearance’. It is usual for the beginners to already be in position and standby’s are then given when clearance is received.  Crew – For some set ups a clearance may be given – for cast rigging, set item placement or moving sequences where the ‘GO’ can only be given once the stage area is clear or the cue set correctly.

COMPANY MANAGER ~ In a touring theatre company, the Company Manager is responsible for the well-being of the cast and crew of the show; managing the administrative side of a tour, dealing with accommodation and travel arrangements, tickets to shows, publicity calls, medical or other needs. In a resident company the CM may also manage work associated social engagements for the cast and may act as a Producers representative at functions.

COMPANY ~ The cast, crew and other staff associated with a show.

COSTUME DESIGNER ~ Member of the artistic team for a show who works with the director to design the look for each character. The designer works with the production manager and head of wardrobe to ensure the design stays within the budget. Many resident companies have a stock of costumes which may be able to re-used. Costume items may be bought or found or sewn (built). Decisions about colour, weight, pattern etc are made. The designer may also work with a wig/hair and make-up specialist for determining hairstyles, with prosthetics specialists for physical changes like nose shape, artificial limbs etc. Actors are often consulted in the detail of the design and information is fed from the rehearsal room as to the use of the costume – a pocket needs to hold a certain prop for example. The designer will be present during the rehearsal period while costumes are being built and attend fittings with the cast.

CUE ~ 1) The call given to technical departments to carry out the plotted action by the stage manager e.g. “Electrics Cue 45, GO”
2) Any signal (spoken line, action or count) that is the GO point for another action. e.g. “Mrs Brown enters when the tray is dropped.”

CUE LIGHT ~ A visual cueing system used for giving cues to cast or technical departments. A main base station sits with the calling stage manager and “satellite” units can be placed where needed. Usually a red light is switched on giving a “warn” at the satellite and green light is then given as a “Go”. Some systems allow for the warn to be acknowledged (a flashing light is pressed and stops flashing). In the US the red lights is switched on as a “warn” and switched off as a “Go”.

Cue lights are mostly used where audibility is poor backstage or visual access to the stage is inhibited for cast members to enter from offstage, or as a back-up to headset communication to technical departments, especially the fly floor and sound  in a Front of House position.

DIRECTOR ~ There are many types of director. The role involves being responsible for the overall artistic vision of a production.
DIRECTOR – directs the show, is in the rehearsal room each day and liaises with the designers in creating the vision for the show.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR – Normally in charge of the programming of a venue or company, may select the shows to be produced and the directors who will direct them, as well as directing shows.
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR – In charge of the technical requirements of a production or the technical departments of a company.

DRESSER ~ A member of the Wardrobe Department who helps actors with costume changes during the performance. Most Australian companies have a wardrobe supervisor and or an ASM might also help with changes.

FOLLOW-ON CUE ~ A cue that happens so soon after a previous cue, that it doesn’t need to be cued separately. The follow-on can be taken by the operator once a previous cue is complete, or a lighting or sound cue can be programmed in the desk to happen a specific time after a previous cue (e.g. standby LXQ 5 follow on 6).  Follow-on cues may also be triggered as sequences using MIDI or other triggers from one operating system to another (EG a lighting desk may trigger a sequence, or midi may be used from the sound operation system to an effects unit). The “GO” is not called for a follow on cue. Fly follow-on cues are often taken as soon as the operator has completed a previous cue in a mutual fly tower. Floor crew may take their own cues when . Often abbreviated to F/O in the cue column.

GO ~ The word used by stage managers to cue other technical departments. The word GO shouldn’t be spoken by others on headsets (especially when the crew is on STANDBY) as they may assume it’s the stage manager speaking.

HALF HOUR CALL ~ The call given to the actors and company half an hour before they will be called for the beginning of a performance. Given 35 minutes before the advertised time of commencement. Subsequent calls given are “the Fifteen’ at 20 minutes, ‘the five’ at 10 minutes and ‘beginners’ at 5 minutes before show start. A half hour call for an 8pm performance would be given at 7.25pm.


HOUSE ~ The size of audience (“What size house do we have tonight?”) or the auditorium (“The house is now open”).

LIGHTING DESIGNER ~ Member of the production team for a show who is responsible for the overall look of the lighting. He or she may have an Assistant Lighting Designer who concentrates on the necessary paperwork for the lighting design. The Lighting Designer (or LD) is responsible for liaising with the director about style and with the set and costume designers about colour and decides on the position, type, focus direction and colour of every lighting instrument in the rig. S/he draws a lighting plan showing all instruments, their positions, focus notes and colour. The plan is used to order extra lamps, gauge the colour needed and prep the rig. It is then a “map” of the lighting grid that can be followed to rig the lights needed. During a lighting plot, the lighting states are built at the designers direction involving deciding which lamp is up at what level over what period of time.

LX ~ Short for Electrics. The department in the theatre responsible for stage lighting and sometimes sound, and perhaps maintenance of the building’s electrical equipment.

MODEL BOX ~ A scale model (Aust. 1:25) provided by the set designer to help co-ordinate and plan a production. The first stage of model-making is the WHITE CARD model which shows the physical design of the set, but not the detail of painting / texture / colour. When that’s been approved and has been budgeted, the final model is produced which should look identical to the finished set on stage. This is used as a reference by scenic artists and lighting designer etc. It is used in the rehearsal room for seeing settings for different acts/scenes, and presented to the company in the first day or week of rehearsal.

NOTES ~ During rehearsal, following a dress run or preview or early in the performance season, the Director may give notes to the cast and /or technical notes to improve or adjust the performances. Notes sessions are often also a forum for cast discussion about points in the performance needing clarification. Technical notes are often given to the stage manager for passing on to crew and/or discussion with designers.

PLOT ~ The basic storyline through the play/performance. 2) A running document outlining each task or cue the crew member performs during the show. 3) the period of time in with technical cues are set or rehearsed (ie Lighting plot – building the cues in the desk or Sound plot – setting speaker outputs and levels). 4) A document outlining each technical action in running order for each department – the mechanist plot, the wardrobe plot, the ASM plot.

PRESET ~ The starting condition of the stage and wings for the performance to begin. Props and furniture setting positions onstage and off. (e.g. My handkerchief is preset in my pocket. Preset the chair facing offstage). The lighting state onstage as audience enter the auditorium.

PRODUCTION MANAGER ~ Responsible for technical preparations, including budgeting and scheduling crew for productions, liaises with the production departments about the day to day of the shows construction and manages production meetings with all workshops, crew and the director. This role in the US is usually known as TECHNICAL DIRECTOR.

PROMPT COPY ~ The script kept by stage management which contains the blocking and, once in the theatre, the cues and calls for running the show. Usually a large folder the Prompt Copy also contains a copy of all technical information, paperwork and crew plots, contact information and schedules. Also known as the Book or prompt script.

PROMPT CORNER ~ The offstage area, traditionally to the stage left (prompt side) in which the stage manager runs and calls the show from the prompt desk.

PROMPT DESK ~ In Prompt Corner, the control console used by stage management. Usually made up of a sloped, flat area to hold the prompt copy, often has a clock, the base units for communications systems to speak to the company (backstage paging and headset comms) independent dimmable lighting, cue light controls and monitors for vision of the stage.

PROMPT SIDE (PS) ~ Usually stage left side of the stage, containing the prompt corner at the downstage end.

PROPS ~ (Properties) Furnishings, set dressings, and all items which cannot be classified as scenery, lighting/sound or wardrobe. Props handled by actors are known as handprops, props which are kept in an actors costume are known as personal props.
PROPS TABLE ~ Table in offstage area on which props are stored or set. Most props are allocated a space in the preset and it is expected that they are returned to that space when they come off stage.

REHEARSAL ~ The period of time the cast and director work through the play in private. A TECHNICAL REHEARSAL is the first time technical elements (lighting, set, sound, costume etc.) are combined with actors in the theatre. A DRESS REHEARSAL is a rehearsal of the show as it will be on opening night – costumes are worn and all the technical elements operated.

SET DESIGNER ~ Member of the artistic team for a show who works initially with the director to create the ‘look’ for the stage throughout the show in order to provide the playing area appropriate to the Directors vision, and the accompanying furniture and props. The set designer works with the production manager to ensure the design stays within the budget, and with the construction heads. He or she provides scale drawings for construction of the set, and construction drawings for items of furniture to be built. The designer will also liaise with scenic art to ensure the correct finish of the set, and may be involved with the hands on set dressing and painting.

SOUND DESIGNER ~ Member of the artistic team who has the responsibility for planning and executing the layout of all sound playback and reinforcement equipment for the show. This role may also include the sourcing of music and/or composition of sound effects for the production. The sound designer will work with the composer to determine the format of the playback (CD, Computer etc) S/he will be present throughout the rehearsal and technical periods and supervises the installation in the theatre. In technical rehearsal and previews the designer fine tunes the system to the performance, adjusting cue points, volumes of cues etc. May provide sound effects for use in the rehearsal room, or be present to compose the soundscapes and playback for rehearsal. See also SOUND OPERATOR.

SOUND OPERATOR ~ Also known as Sound Op. The Sound Operator is responsible for operating the sound playback and mixing equipment for a show. He or she is often a member of the technical department of the theatre and works with the sound designer for the production. The sound operator usually sits out front in performance and may be on headsets to receive calls from the stage manager or be given cue lights for each cue. Shows requiring a lot of amplification or microphone mixing may have more than one operator. Many smaller companies use the stage manager as a sound operator.

STAGE CREW ~ Stage Crew (also known as Mechanists or Stage Hands) are responsible for moving props and/or scenery during the show, and for ensuring that items under their responsibility are working correctly and properly maintained. They crew each performance and often have a maintenance call to check show elements like flying items and large set pieces. The Head Mechanist is often a venue staff member and the Stage Manager liaises with him/her in confirming crew calls.

STAGE MANAGER ~ The Head of the Stage Management team. The team may be made up of a Stage Manager, a Deputy Stage Manager, who runs the room and calls the cues and one or more ASM’s

STAND-BY ~ The warning given by the calling stage manager that a cue is about to be called. (“Standby LXQ 34 follow on through 36, Standby SDQ 3, Standby FLYQ12. The operator responds “Lighting standing by” etc) It is customary for the standby to be 20 -30 seconds before the cue point.

TECH ~ Abbreviation for Technical Rehearsal (“We start the tech on Wednesday”) or abbreviation for a technician “who is on the tech crew?”

TECHNICAL REHEARSAL ~ (Tech) Usually the first time the show is rehearsed in the venue, with lighting, scenery and sound. Costumes are worn and often changes are rehearsed where they may cause technical problems (e.g. Quick changes). Often a very lengthy process involving the calling of each cue, adjusting of timings, sections which are complex may be run through several times. A DRY TECH is without actors to rehearse the integration of lighting, scenic changes etc. with the crew.

A WET TECH is a full technical rehearsal with actors and all technical elements, although this term isn’t used as often as DRY TECH. A PAPER TECH is a session without the set or actors when the technical and design team talk through the show ensuring everything’s going to work as planned. On a smaller show, this would be done by the stage manager as a master plot for the staging crew before allocating individual tasks. Stage Managers can use this paper session to ensure all cues are written correctly in the Prompt Book. The technical rehearsal is where all cues that are plotted in the plotting sessions come together in sequence.

WARDROBE ~ The general name for the costume department, its staff and the area they occupy.