How many times have you found yourself in a conversation that you are unable to partake in due to a lack of jargon knowledge? The Oberon Glossary of Theatrical Terms is a wonderful book chock full of theatrical jargon explanations.

Following on from our last article, today we look at 'D' to 'F'.




Deus ex machina: (L.: The god from the machine.) Term deriving from ancient Greek theatre in which mechanical devices are believed to have been used to lower actors playing gods onto the stage.

Dog Toby: Small live dog usually wearing a frill around its neck, trained to take part in a traditional Punch and Judy show, sitting at a corner of the stage and sometimes snapping at Mr Punch's hooked nose.

Extemporise: To perform spontaneously without preparation, either with deliberate creative intention or to cover an emergency, such as an actor failing to enter at his cue.

Five and Nine: Reference numbers of cream (No. 5) and reddish-brown (No. 9) Liechner (Greasepaint) sticks, which, used in combination could provide a dark or light flesh-coloured base for stage make-up.

Flob d'estime: (Fr.: Worthy flop.) (n.) A generally well-regarded production, that nevertheless fails to attract audiences.

Funambulist: Tight-rope walker.


The Oberon Glossary of Theatrical Terms by Colin Winslow is published by Oberon Books.