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The only stagey dictionary you will ever need

Katie Brennan provides definitions for some of theatreland's most used terms

Just like every trade out there, theatre has it's own unique lingo and slang. Here's a compact dictionary of modern theatre terms you may hear being bandied about theatreland!

Comp - n. A free ticket. Fairly easy to obtain if you suck up to someone in the cast. Bribes are sometimes effective too.

Clearance - n. Once the audience are all settled into their seats, the Front of House Manager gives ‘clearance' to backstage. A theatrical word for ‘ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GO!'

Cloth - n. Another word for the curtain. Also can be used as a not-very-nice term for the wardrobe department.

Dear - n. A term of endearment. Can be freely interchanged with ‘love'. Useful if you find it hard to remember people's names.

Finals - n. The final round of auditions for a show. THE NAILBITING ROUND. THE SUDDEN DEATH ROUND. Everything to play for!

Freedom - n. A bar in Soho that's renowned for being a favourite theatrical hangout. A night out there is often followed up with a 3am full English at Balans Café, also in Soho.

On Hold - To be ‘on hold' for a job is to be pencilled in for it. PRECARIOUS.

Pippa/Grindrod - n. Powerful casting directors able to strike fear into the hearts of performers.

Profit Share - adj. If a show is described as being ‘Profit Share' it means that if the show makes money, it'll be shared fairly between company members. See also ‘Unpaid.'

Quiet - adj. Periods where no-one seems to be getting auditions for anything. Particularly applicable in January, after the glitter from panto has settled.

Resting - v. Used to describe actors during periods where they aren't in a performing job. Though saying that, most actors when they're not performing are usually working a dozen temp/teaching/promo jobs, plus keeping creative and preparing for potential auditions, so really it's anything BUT resting!

RSVP - n. A call centre where HUNDREDS of actors work during ‘resting' periods.

Siren - v. Not the banshee like females from Greek Mythology. They don't exist in Theatreland. Although saying that, after hearing me belt out "Let It Go" at Lucky Voice after a few shandies, you may be convinced otherwise. However this refers to a vocal exercise which quickly warms up the vocal folds, going from low to high again super quick, like an ambulance siren.

Sitz - n. Short for Sitzprobe which is NOT an adult toy, but a posh word for ‘band-call'.

Stagey - adj. Used to describe anyone/anything excessively theatrical. E.g- 1. "I bumped into Bonnie Langford at Freedom! It was so stagey!" 2. "Did she just harmonise the end of Happy Birthday? She is sooo stagey!"

Steaming - v. What people are on press night after a few glasses of fizz. Also the practice of inhaling steam which is tres good for the voice. Dear.

Strallen - n. A member of theatrical dynasty The Strallen Family. See also ‘Wendy'.

Swing - n. Superhumans who learn lots of different roles within a show and do a different one every day, i.e they ‘swing' from role to role. SO MUCH TO REMEMBER.

The Five - n. The magic five minutes before curtain up. Supposedly when everyone breathes, gets calm and inhabits their character but in reality it's usually when everyone panics that they're not in costume/have forgotten to put their microphone on/haven't got enough lippy on.

TownOrTour? - A phrase to clarify whether a performer is in the West End Cast of a show (Town) or the Touring Cast (OrTour?) E.g- "Oh he got Wicked? TownOrTour?"

Twirlyn. a talented dancer.

Wendy - n. short for ‘West-End Wendy'. Performers who have performed in what feels like EVERY show going and seem never to be out of work. Experienced, talented and fierce.


What other theatrical words and phrases would you add to the stagey dictionary? Let us know in the comments below.

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