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SUSU StageSoc
Southampton University Students' Union Backstage Society

Glossary :: General Terms

Ali-deck: A generic term for "light weight" versions of steel deck. Normally made with an aluminium frame (rather than steel) they tend to be lighter, but don't bank on it! ("Ali deck" is also the name of one such system, although apparently it's quite heavy!) Another term more commonly used in StageSoc is lite-deck as this is the make of the 'lightweight' staging in the Cube and as such is about the only such stuff we get to use!
BACS: The Bankers' Automated Clearing Services. Not really a theatre term, but referred to so often that it's necessary to put here - it's the way of transferring money online.
Blacks: The name given to the black clothing to be worn by tech and stage crew during performances.
Blue Room: A forum used by other theatre technical people - if you don't know how to achieve a certain effect/do something a bit different it's worth having a search on here to see if somebody else has had the same problem. (http://www.blue-room.org.uk/)
Border: Wide, short black fabric hung from the roof to mask the lighting bars and scenery bars in a theatre
Cable Ties: Plastic self-locking things used to bundle/secure things, come in releasable and non-releasable versions. Also known as "Zip-Ties."
Cans: Name given to the communication system used by the key crew to talk to each other when scattered around the auditorium (sound/lighting ops usually at the back of the auditorium, stage manager in the wing and an assistant on the other side). Depending on the sanity of the people 'on cans', the level of complexity of the show and the stage manager (the one in charge) cans banter can arise. This usually involves discussion of the merits (both artistic and aesthetic) or otherwise of the actors currently on stage, social plans after the show and who's turn it is for ice cream / drinks at the bar in between cues/standbys.
Cyclorama: Cyc. for short. The large piece of material (usually black or white but can be painted) that hangs at the back of the stage.
DFA: A particularly useful button, which Does F*** All. Useful for directors (or MDs) who are vague on the changes they want.
Downstage: The area at the front of the stage.
Dressing: In scenic terms, refers to the tarting up of the basic set (furniture, flats, large items) with fabric (e.g. tablecloths) and small items to make them look less bare.
Dry Ice: A favourite of the tech. crew, dry ice is frozen Carbon Dioxide pellets which (especially when heated quickly in hot water) form clouds of heavier-than-air 'smoke' for making nice effects, or generally annoying people at the after show party. The 'smoke' is actually water vapour condensed from the air mixed in with the CO2 gas. (Safety note: Dry ice is very cold (-78 C) and can cause nasty burns. Make sure you wear thick gloves and safety glasses when handling it or, better yet, get a "trained" chemist to do it for you!)
Flash Pods: Used in pyrotechnics as the base for firing flashes.
Flashes: A pyrotechnic that creates a flash of light, a bang, and a mushroom cloud of smoke.
Flat: A large wooden frame covered with either hardboard, thin ply or canvas which can then be painted to mask entrances/exits. Several flats together can be used to form a backdrop. StageSoc own many flats of assorted sizes (some of them even match up into sets). The cutting-up of canvas flats to insert doors/windows is very naughty and very annoying so don't do it. If you can't find enough flats with holes in then you should either redesign your set because you probably want too many doors/windows, or else use the wooden ones as they can be repaired more easily.
Flies: The area of the theatre from which the fly-bars are controlled.
Fly-bars: Scaffold poles suspended from the grid (roof) of a theatre which can be raised or lowered by use of ropes/cables. Often used to hang lights and or scenery. Of the venues used by StageSoc, only the Nuffiled has fly-bars. They come in two varieties - hemp and counterweight. Counterweight bars have a big cradle of weights at the other end of the rope, the weight is matched to the load on the bar so it's easy to "fly". In the Nuffield most of the counterweight bars are reserved for lighting. Hemp hung bars are fly bars connected to hemp ropes tied off on big cleats. If the scenic item is heavy you need lots of people to fly it in/out. Hemp is also rather unpleasant on the hands.
Flying: The process by which fly bars are raised and lowered. During the get-in/get-out always shout before you fly a bar so people can stand clear. If something is to be raised it is flying out, and if something is to be lowered down, it is flying in.
Gaffa Tape: Also known as duct tape, this 1-2" wide very strong and sticky tape reinforced with cloth can be used to tape down cables to stop people tripping over them; hold cables to walls/ceilings; hold set together; muffle noisy cast/stage managers/directors etc. NEVER EVER pull up cable with gaffa over it - remove the gaffa first or else you WILL spend many hours scraping gaffa off the cable. Leaves cables sticky, use LX/sparky tape if possible. There is an old adage: You only need two things in theatre: if it should move and doesn't, use WD40, and if it moves and shouldn't, use Gaffa.
Genny: Short for generator. Not something generally used by StageSoc, but often referred to.
Get-in: The process of building your set, rigging your lights etc. Generally will over run the time allocated to it. Always expect at least one simple job to become horrendously difficult or time consuming (e.g. putting legs on the truss because some muppet ordered a rig that was only just short enough to fit in the venue)
Get-out: The process of removing all your show clobber from the venue (and storing it neatly and tidily in the Annex and House). Takes no where near as long as the get-in and is often followed by the after-show party. If in the Nuffield Theatre, the bar will probably be closed by the time the get-out is done.
Green Room: A room backstage where actors go to prepare before / between going on stage. Since they are usually a bit nervous, the room was traditionally painted green as the colour is supposed to instill calm, although most green rooms tend not to be painted that colour!
Grid: A large mess of steel girders in the roof of a theatre from which all the fly bars are hung. Occasionally also used to refer to a pre-installed arrangement of lighting bars.
Hazer: A device for creating a haze in the air to make the paths of the lights more visible. Differs slightly to a fog machine which creates clouds rather than haze.
Iron: Unofficial name for "Safety Curtain" In a theatre with flying facilities, this is a very heavy sheet 'curtain' made of metal that lowers in front of the house tabs. In the event of fire, the backstage is then fully sealed off from the auditorium.
Leg: The large pieces of black fabric hung from the roof to mask the wings.
Michael George: A legend. Founder and (naturally) former member of StageSoc known for his talents at building set, singing, driving vans, producing and stage managing. Also owner of a large quantity of useful kit and a fountain of knowledge about the University/Union and ways of solving various back-stage technical type problems. Also the owner of the "yellow bag of wonders" formerly containing many useful things that everyone else forgot to buy (such as gaffa tape, LX tape, cable ties, bungee cord, ratchet straps, screws, screw driver bits...)
Milky White: Almost as much of a legend as Michael George, Milky White was a wooden white cow on wheels, and an infrequent visitor to the Isle of Wight before her final blaze of glory. No, really.
Prompt Side / Prompt Corner: Where the Stage Manager sits. Usually in the Stage Left Wing. The other side of the stage is called Opposite Prompt. If they are reversed for some reason, then they are called B**tard Side and Opposite B**stard cos the actors get confused.
Props: Short for 'properties' - originally from 'properties of the theatre'. Generally refers to items that can be picked up and carried by an actor. Small items static on stage as part of the 'look' are usually classed as 'dressing'.
Proscenium Arch: Pross for short, is the large hole in the wall in between the stage and auditorium, usually where the curtains come across.
Rake: term used to describe a stage that is not flat but tilted towards the audience to give them a better view. Also make unwarey actors fall over. Is a pain to put a ladder on, so you probably shouldn't!
Show Control: A clever piece of software that can be used to control lights/sound/anything-else-you've-wired-into-it all at once (Primarily used for sound though).
Show Relay: Allows people not on stage to hear (or even sometimes see) what's going on. A microphone (and sometimes a video camera as well) picks up what's happening and is relayed to a another room for actors to see when they are needed and avoid them cluttering up the wings.
Snakes/Multi's: In the touring band world at least, a Snake is a bundle of cables, held together with LX tape or Cable ties, and a Multicore is the professionally produced equivalent that has a proper PVC/Rubber outer covering all the cables (These can also be Fibre Optic instead of copper -- or a combination of the two!). Having said that, Americans tend to call all multicores Snakes, regardless of construction. Usually Lighting Multicores (socaplex/lectriflex) are referred to Soca not multicores (to save confusing the sound engineers).
Socapex / Soca : Power multicore for lighting (see Snakes/Multi's). Has circular connector on the end with 19 pins (or holes depending on which end you're holding!) and a locking ring (on one end).
Spider: A multicore connector to n sockets (named as it looks like a spider).
Spike Tape: Tape used to mark positions of set on the stage. Usually LX tape is used for the job, but various fluorescent and glow-in-the-dark paper based alternatives are available.
Stage Left: The right hand side of the stage from the audience perspective.
Stage Manager: God. Obey at all times. Once the show has transferred to the venue from rehearsals, the SM is in charge of everything that happens on the stage. Has the power to do most things, but also the responsibility to keep all the various departments together and do their thing at the right times. The SM usually cues the sound effects/playbacks and lighting changes, scene changes and pyro. In a proper theatre usually also has a backstage PA system to call actors to the stage and cue lights to silently cue stage hands around the stage.
Stage Right: The left hand side of the stage from the audience perspective.
Steel Deck: Unreasonably and unnaturally heavy staging, which often has to be carried long distances by less people than required, used for making raised areas of set.
Tab: Technical name for a theatrical curtain.
Tab track / Triple E: What you hang curtains / scenery cloths from to be able to move them across the stage. The 'triple E' is the main tab track used in the Nuffield and moving which bar it hangs on the stage requires many people on the end of the ropes.
Talking / Moving Props: An affectionate term for actors used sometimes by crew when in a good mood.
The Annex: Also known as Arts H & J and building 2A. Contains our studio (lecture) theatre and set stores as well as all our tech kit.
The House: 46 Chamberlain Rd. A semi-detached house near the physics building containing all our props, costumes and several sets of flat-pack stairs designed and built by Michael George.
Upstage: The area at the back of the stage (furthest from the audience), so called as old theatres had a raked stage where the back was higher than the front.
Wings: The sides of the stage area hidden from view by masking which allows the actors/crew/scenery to hide when not on stage.

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