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Stage Terminology

Below are words and phrases that are commonly used in theatre and other live event settings. 

GridThe grid is a support structure of the rigging system of a venue. In a theater, typically holding ropes and pulleys that enables stage crew to quickly and safely ‘fly’ elements of the set and lighting in and out of place. In arenas or outdoor stages, the grid is a structure built from I-Beams or structural truss.
JumpThe jump is a platform/catwalk in a theatre located about halfway between the stage floor and the overhead grid.  Access is by ladder or spiral stair, but some houses it can be accessed via elevator.  The use depends on the theatre; from lighting storage, automation control, secondary pin rail, etc.
House Right, House LeftWhere stage right and stage left are called from the perspective of someone standing on stage and facing the audience, House right and left are called from the perspective of the audience. When on stage, assume any direction called is a stage direction, not house direction.
Proscenium (Pro)Not every venue has a proscenium, but generally, the proscenium is the architectural or ornamental opening between the stage and the audience just downstage of the main curtains.
In a thrust or semi-thrust theater, the part of the stage extending out into the audience is extended. In a full thrust theater, the audience on one side of the stage is parallel to the audience the other side.
Plaster LineAn imaginary line across the stage from one upstage corner of the proscenium to the other. Usually this is the line from which upstage/downstage measurements are taken to place scenery.
Smoke Pocket/Fire CurtainTheatres of a certain height have a Fire Curtain than is triggered in the event of a fire that will cut off the house from the stage, preventing the fire from spreading from one area to the other.  Smoke Pockets are thick steel tracks located on either upstage side of the Proscenium, running from stage floor to the grid, and act as a guide for the Fire Curtain.
Raked StageA raked stage is angled so that the downstage edge of the stage (closest to the audience) is lower than the upstage edge. Historically this was commonly done in early theaters where most of the audience stood on a flat floor in front of the stage.
Balcony, balcony railA balcony is a level of seating above the main audience seating area. Often, you will find a lighting position, or balcony rail, mounted in front of the seating area.
Properties (Props)Any item a performer handles on stage.  This can include items used to dress the set to establish place, time, and inform the audience about the location/character.  Do not touch, rest something upon, or sit on Props.  If you are in doubt, assume it’s a prop.
Flip, Rotate (spin)To flip something means to turn the item over, such as flipping a pancake.  Rotating is spinning an object in its current place while keeping it upright (Doe-See-Doe)
FOH Truss/FOH Electric FOH = Front of House.  A truss or lighting catwalk suspended above the audience. When there are more than one, the 1st FOH truss is located closest to the stage. Some people may call these AP/AntiPro or Beam positions.
CoveA cove is an enclosed lighting position that usually provides front light towards the stage. Often, this term is reserved for lighting positions either extremely far from the stage or recessed into the architecture of the building.  
1st Electric (2nd Elec, etc.…)When a stage features several pipes or trusses spanning over the width of the stage specifically for lighting, as most theaters and many touring shows do, they are named sequentially from the downstage edge of the stage, where 1st electric is the closest to the audience.
Head Carp The Head Carpenter is typically the person in charge of managing every technician performing work on a stage. Whenever you arrive at a job, the head carp is who you should seek out if you don’t know where to check in.
FlypersonA flyperson is someone responsible for operating a theatrical counterweight rigging system.
Video Resolution and Aspect RatiosVideo resolution determines how many pixels are contained in an image; aspect ratio is the ratio of horizontal to vertical pixels.  16:9 is a common aspect ratio for widescreen video.  4:3 used to be common.
LumenLumens, or lm, are a measure of total visible light from a lamp or light sources. Understanding the concept of total light output is important in choosing the correct lighting instrument or projector for a job. Footlamberts and Nits are also measurements of light output sometimes used
FinchShort extension cable, typically 1 foot in length.  Sometimes called a jumper.
Spike MarkA spike mark is a colored tape marking on a stage denoting exact location a scenic element, prop, equipment, or performer is supposed to go.
Knife and DogIn scenic automation, the knife is an easily removable strip of steel or durable plastic (UHMW) that links scenery to a “dog,” a steel carrier set into a track in the stage, which is usually affixed to a wire moved by an automation or manual winch.
Monitor WorldMonitor world is a side stage area where the audio monitor engineer and their equipment can be found.
Dimmer BeachDimmer beach is a side stage area containing lighting and power distribution for a show.  Typically, it is located closest to the Company Tie-In, but not always.
Video VillageVideo Village is often found offstage and is the hub for video signals sent around a production.
Company Tie-In/ SwitchIs a dedicated switch box where the productions power distribution needs are connected to the venue’s electrical service.  This electrical panel typically has high amperage and is extremely dangerous.  NEVER connect directly to this panel.  ALWAYS check in with the House Electrician first.
General Session (GS)At a business or entertainment convention, a General Session is the main event in a large convention hall. Depending on the event, a GS can be a very complex live event featuring high profile speakers and entertainment on the same stage.
Breakout (BO) RoomsSmaller events at conventions are usually scheduled in breakout rooms, usually consisting of a projector and screen, a demo table, and a basic sound system.
Demo TableIn a breakout room or general session, a demo table is often required to hold presentation computers or other equipment a presenter might need. 
Graveyard/Bone YardA bone yard is the designated area to store empty road cases and spare equipment while a production is in progress.
Loading Dock/Stage DoorThe loading dock is where event equipment is loaded/unloaded from trucks. The stage door is a venue entrance designated for production staff. Unless instructed otherwise, enter a venue through the stage door.
Loading RampsThere are a few different types of ramps used for loading trucks. In absence of an elevated loading dock, a truck ramp is used to access a trailer from the ground. These can be massive, requiring a team of stagehands to position. Sometimes built into a loading dock or placed manually, a dock plate is a sheet of metal used to bridge the small gap between the loading dock and a truck. In some cases, the nose of the trailer, or dance floor, is slightly elevated requiring a dance floor ramp similar to a dock plate.


BattenUsually 1 ½” in diameter, a batten is a schedule 40 pipe suspended by a rigging system designed to hold soft goods and other scenery.
ValenceOn stages where the main curtain opens and might not rise, the valence a matching border that runs along the top of the stage to hide the furthest upstage lighting and scenic rigging.
Main CurtainSometimes called the main rag, main drapes, or even just the main, the main curtain pictured in the diagram is split in the middle and opens off stage in both directions. Most main curtains can operate this way, but in theaters with a complete rigging system they can also raise out into the fly tower.
BorderA border is a strip of masking, usually black velour that frames the top of a stage.  The border is placed to hide from view any rigging, lighting, or scenic equipment the audience isn’t supposed to see.
The Border can be referred to as a teaser in some situations.
LegsLegs are a thin strip of vertical masking, usually black velour drapes, that frame the sides of a stage. Pairs of borders and legs are usually hung from the same overhead pipe. The space between 2 legs on the same side of the stage is called a wing.
The pair of legs directly upstage of the main curtain are called tormentors or torms, and when reinforced with frames, are called hard legs.
TravelerA traveler is any scenic element, like a curtain or broadway flat, that moves across the stage in a suspended track. The traveler hand/operator line is the rope used to move the piece back and forth from off stage. Usually, when someone says traveler, they are referring to a curtain that opens and closes like the midstage traveler pictured below.
DropA Drop is any backdrop that hangs from a counterweight rigging line set. Often covering the whole width of a stage, these were historically made from painted muslin.
ScrimA scrim is a translucent mesh fabric that can be lowered in across a stage. When lit from the front, in obscures anything upstage, but when scenery or performers are lit up behind it, it can hardly be seen.
CycA cyc, usually the furthest upstage scenic element, is simply a white fabric stretched across the whole stage and colored using cyc lights.

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