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The Actor's Vocabulary (Part 1)

ETERNITY: The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line.

PROP: A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor exactly 30 seconds before it is needed on stage.

DIRECTOR: An individual who suffers from the delusion that he/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 so as to have them not collide with the walls, furniture, or each other, nor descend precipitously into the orchestra pit . Similar to playing chess, with the exception that, here, the pawns want to argue with you.

BLOCKING REHEARSAL: A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule where actors frantically write down movements which will be nowhere in evidence by opening night.

QUALITY THEATRE: Any show with which one was directly involved.

TURKEY: Any show with which one was NOT directly involved.

DRESS REHEARSAL: The final rehearsal during which actors forget everything learned in the two previous weeks as they attempt to navigate the 49 new objects and set pieces that the set designer/director has added to the set at just prior to the DRESS REHEARSAL.

TECH WEEK: The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute. This week reaches its grand climax on DRESS REHEARSAL NIGHT when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown. See also Hell Week

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.

DARK NIGHT: 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.

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.

GREEN ROOM: Room shared by nervous actors waiting to go on stage and the precocious children whose actor parents couldn't get a baby-sitter that night, a situation which can result in justifiable homicide.

DARK SPOT: 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 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.


Q: How does an actor change a lightbulb?
A: He just holds it, and the world revolves around him


When Mozart passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple of days later, all the local musicians and composers came to the cemetery to pay their respects and heard some strange noise coming from the area where Mozart was buried. They bent their ears toward the grave, listened for a moment, and one said, “Ah, yes, that’s Mozart’s Ninth Symphony, being played backwards.”

They listened a while longer, another said, “There’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too. Most puzzling.”

They kept listening; “There’s the Seventh… The Sixth… The Fifth…”

Suddenly the realisation of what was happening dawned on one of them; he stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, “My fellow musicians, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just Mozart decomposing.”


Q: Why do we tell actors to ‘break a leg’?
A: Because every play has a cast


Q: What’s black, crispy and hangs from the ceiling?
A: An actor trying to change a light bulb

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Q: How do you get an actor off your doorstep?
A: Pay him for your pizza