Things That Are Just NEVER Said In Theatre

Of course there’s enough money to go around.
We have money left over.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

Wow, the designers were right on, weren’t they?
No, today is the tech rehearsal, we’ll re-work that scene later.
I think the scene changes are too fast.
Of course I think that we’ll be ready in time for opening.
The crew? Why they’re just wonderful!
No thanks, I don’t drink.

It looks as though there’ll be time for a third dress rehearsal.
Take your time getting back from break.
We’ve been ready for hours.
No, I called that perfectly the first time – let’s move on.
The headsets are working perfectly.
The cue lights are working perfectly.
The orchestra has no complaints.
The whole company is standing by whenever you want them.
That didn’t take long.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

Of course all of my drawings were turned in on time.
Yes, it absolutely is my fault that the set looks awful.
You know, you might have a point there.
The director knows best, obviously I wasn’t giving him what he wants.
We have too many gel colors in stock, I can’t choose.
Of course the shop will have the costumes ready on time.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

This is the most complete and informative set of drawings I’ve ever
We built it right the first time.
No problem, I’ll deal with that right away.
I love designers.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

Let’s not talk about me.
I really think my big scene should be cut.
This costume is SO comfortable.
I love my shoes.
No problem. I can do that for myself.
I have a fantastic agent.
Let me stand down here with my back to the audience.
I’m sure someone told me there was a wall here, I just forgot.
Without the crew the show would never run – let’s thank them.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

That instrument is not in the way.
There’s room for that over here.
We’ll get in early tomorrow to do it.
No, no. I’m sure that is our job.
Anything I can do to help?
All the tools are carefully locked away.
Can we do that scene change again please?
It’s a marvelous show.
I don’t need this many on the crew.
No thanks, I don’t drink.

You know you’re in community theatre if…

  • your living room sofa spends more time on stage than you do.
  • you have your own secret family recipe for stage blood.
  • you’ve ever appeared on stage wearing your own clothes.
  • you can find a prop in the prop room that hasn’t seen the light of day in ten years, but you don’t know where your own vacuum cleaner is.
  • you’ve ever appeared in or worked on a production of Love, Sex and the IRS, or any other show written by Van Zandt and Milmore.
  • you have a Frequent Shopper Card at The Salvation Army.
  • you start buying your work clothes at Goodwill so you can buy your costumes at the mall.
  • you’ve ever cleaned a tuxedo with a magic marker.
  • you’ve ever said, “Don’t worry – we’ll just hot glue it.”
  • you’ve ever appeared on stage in an outfit held together with hot glue.
  • you’ve ever seriously considered not doing in the murder victim because the gunshot might wake up the audience.
  • you name your son Samuel and tell him that his middle name is in honor the French side of the family.
  • you’ve ever appeared in a show where tech week is devoted to getting the running time under four and a half hours.
  • your lighting director has ever missed a cue because he was blinded by the glare from the sea of bald heads in the audience.
  • you’ve ever appeared on stage in an English drawing room murder mystery where half the cast spoke with southern accents.
  • you’ve ever called for a line — in front of an audience.
  • your children have ever begged you not to buy them any more Happy Meals.
  • you think Neil Simon is a misunderstood genius.
  • you’ve ever appeared in a show where the cast outnumbered the audience.
  • you’ve ever gotten a part because you were the only guy who showed up for auditions.
  • the audience recognizes you the minute you walk on stage because they saw you taking out the trash before the show.
  • you’ve ever menaced anyone with a gun held together with electrical tape.
  • you’ve ever had to haul a sofa off stage between scenes wearing a dinner gown and high heels.
  • you’ve ever had to haul a sofa off stage between scenes wearing a dinner gown and high heels – and you’re a guy.
  • you’ve ever played the father of someone your father’s age.
  • your kids know your lines better than you do.
  • your kids SAY your lines better than you do.
  • you get home from rehearsal and have to go back to the theater because you forgot your kids.
  • you’ve ever appeared in a show where an actor leaned out through a window without opening it first.
  • you’ve ever had to play a drunk scene opposite someone who was really drunk.
  • you’ve ever heard a director say, “Try not to bump into the furniture,” and mean it.
  • you’ve ever appeared on stage with people you’re related to.
  • you’ve ever heard the head of the set construction crew say, “Just paint it black – no one will ever see it.”
  • your mother has ever greeted you after a performance with the words “Don’t give up your day job.”
  • you’ve ever appeared in a show featuring a flushing toilet sound effect.
  • the set designer has ever told you not to walk on the left half of the stage because the floor’s still wet — five minutes before curtain.
  • you’ve ever been told your director has no eyebrows because he handled special effects for the last show.

Community Theatre Dictionary

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.

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 you were directly involved.

Every show with which you were not directly involved.

Dress rehearsal
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 evening.

Tech week
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.

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 babysitter 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.

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 reponsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, babysitting 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.

Lighting Director
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.

Makeup Kit
(1) among experienced community theater actors, a battered tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint in various stages of dessication, 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 Forebrain
The part of an actor’s brain which contains lines, blocking and characterization; activated by hot lights.

The Hindbrain
The part of an actor’s 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.

Stage Crew
Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic.

Message Play
Any play which its director describes as “worthwhile,” “a challenge to actors and audience alike,” or “designed to make the audience think.” Critics will be impressed both by the daring material and the roomy accommodations, since they’re likely to have the house all to themselves.

Bedroom Farce
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.

Assistant Director
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.

Set Piece
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.

1) After a rave review, a font of wisdom and authority;
2) After a damning review, a fool who wouldn’t know if his hair was on fire.

An article of clothing which doesn’t fit, smells of mothballs, and is in constant need of repair. (See also Goodwill)

1) An electronic device which the stage manager uses to give cues to the light board operator, and other crew members;
2) An electronic device which when worn gives the user the right to say absolutely anything about any cast member, crew member, audience member, or anybody else, except others with headsets, at any time.

1) The 10 foot by 5 foot area which the stage manager insists is more than enough room for 2 pianos, a drum set, 4 horns, 2 woodwinds, 2 strings, a make-shift dressing room, three set pieces, and several thousand beer cans;
2) A group of trained or untrained musicians who willingly give up their time to gather together to eat vast amounts of gummy ____ (insert your favorite here), as well as other forms of nourishment, and use their honorarium, which hardly covers their gas money, to buy as much beer as possible, and lastly to provide at least one form of entertainment for the paying audience.

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 way.

Stage Right, Stage Left
Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to drive directors crazy. (“No, no, your OTHER stage right!”)

Scroll to Top