Theatre A building that houses an auditorium and a stage.
Lobby The room or space between the front entrance and the ticket booth.
Foyer (foy-ay) The space or room behind the auditorium, between the lobby and seats. The foyer does not have seats.
Mezzanine A flat floor behind the lower portion of the balcony.
Loges, LOGAIS (lo’-jus) A balcony with less than seven rows of seats. In a large balcony, the loges would be the front row, provided there are less than seven seats in front of a cross-aisle.
Auditorium Stage personnel refers to this as the “house.” It’s the large room where the audience is seated.
Beam Sometimes referred to as the “beam position.” The beam is the location of lighting in the auditorium ceiling for illuminating the forestage and front part of the stage proper.
Proscenium Wall A structural wall separating the auditorium from the stage.
Proscenium Arch Also known as “proscenium opening.” It’s the opening through which the audience views the performance. When the word “proscenium” is used alone, it’s referring to the proscenium arch.
Proscenium Line An imaginary line where the proscenium intersects the stage floor. For accuracy, this is aligned with the stage side of the proscenium columns.
Stage The area where actors perform, plus the side and rear spaces for handling equipment.
Forestage, Apron The portion of the stage that protrudes through the proscenium toward the auditorium.
Working Stage Features drapes or drops hoisted one-half the height of the proscenium arch or more than 10 feet.
Green Room The lounge area for all stage personnel.


Grid, Gridiron, Gridiron Floor The floor above the stage. It supports hardware to hoist and lower equipment.
Loft The space between the gridiron floor and the roof.
Up-Right Grid A type of grid with the blocks mounted on the topside.
Well The space between grid beams that allows equipment support cables to pass through.
Under-Hung Grid A type of grid with the blocks mounted on the underside.
Bracer Beam A steel beam secured to the stage side head block beam for reinforcement.
Fly Rope The platform where equipment is hoisted and lowered by ropes.
Lock Rail Floor The platform from which equipment is hoisted and lowered by counterweight rigging. In some theatres, the fly floor or lock rail floor is at stage level.
Loading Floor A platform above the lock rail slightly farther away from the sidewall suspended about eight feet below the grid. From this platform, the weight pieces of a counterweight system are changed to keep equipment balanced over the stage.
Bridge Located above the stage near the proscenium wall and stretches from one wall to another to support lighting equipment. Some bridges are suspended on counterweight systems.


Batten The pipe above the stage for supporting individual drapes, drops, scenery and lighting equipment. A smaller batten suspended from one or two average battens is known as a “jack batten.” A pipe batten is sometimes used in a drop’s bottom hem to provide weight and keep the drop smooth.
Guy A supporting chain or rope run at an angle to support a batten.
Bridle Two lines connected at a common point in the shape of a “V” to support a batten.
Traveler Track Used to support a bi-parting (or two-piece) drape. The end with a double pulley is the “live end” and the opposite end with a single pulley is the “dead end.”
Purchase Line, Operating Line A hand rope for operating a track. On a power system, a steel cable or wire center rope called the “drive cable” is used.
Sheave (shiv) The grooved wheel supporting a rope or cable.
Block An assembly containing a sheave, axle and protective housing.

Rope System

Includes hand operated ropes that run through blocks to the batten to hoist and lower equipment.

Hand Lines The ropes used in the system.
Pin Rail A horizontal railing usually five inches in diameter. Often includes two rails, one above and slightly farther away from the operator. The lower rail supports the drape and the upper rail supports the hand lines, allowing for smooth operation without disturbing the drape.
Belaying Pin A steel or wood shouldered pin, 1⅛-inch diameter by 16 to 24 inches long, free to rotate in holes through the pin rail. The most popular type is made from hickory wood.
Line Cleat A hardware device, usually iron, with two long horns. It’s used in place of the belaying pin and rail. The line cleat is fastened to the wall and especially popular when only a few sets of hand lines are used.
Clew Used for changing from one line to multiple lines. It’s a metal piece, usually a triangular plate, with a single hole at one corner and multiple holes on the opposite side.
Head Block A multi-sheave block above the pin rail that passes lines through. In a rope system, sheaves operate independently.
Loft Block A single-sheave block that passes an individual line through to the batten.
Set The entire system used to support a single batten: a belaying pin, (JUST ONE PIN?) lines, blocks and accessories.
Outrigger Sometimes referred to as an “outrigger batten.” It’s a frame that acts as a guardrail to support the pin rail. It’s located ten feet or more above the stage floor, beyond the moving equipment above the pin rail. Behind the guardrail, a string of lights can be hung to illuminate the pin rail. An outrigger is also used above the lock rail in a counterweight system.

Counterweight System

Includes lines that are run through blocks from a counterweight to the battens to hoist and lower equipment.

Counterweight Carriage Sometimes known as an “arbor.” It’s a steel frame that supports the individual weight pieces.
Counterweight, Weight An individual weight piece usually made from cast iron. Sometimes called “iron.”
Lead Line (leed) The supporting line that runs from the carriage through blocks to individual positions along the batten. Usually made from preformed 7 by 19 galvanized aircraft cable.
Purchase Line Sometimes called an “operating line” or a “hand line.” A hand rope for setting counterweight rigging into motion.
Lock Rail A horizontal railing with rope locks. Collectively, “lock rail” means the complete assembly of rope locks, bumper rails for the carriage, supporting framework and an index strip.
Index Strip A metal strip mounted on or near the lock rail to support cards that identify the individual rigging sets. A well-designed system will also have an index strip on the loading floor.
Rope Lock The clamping device for arresting movement of the purchase line.
Floor Block The block that supports the purchase line’s lower loop. When the lock rail assembly is at the stage level, the floor block is mounted inside the lock rail. When the lock rail is mounted on an elevated platform, the floor block is at or near the stage floor. Similarly, if a pit were involved to increase carriage travel, the block would be at or near the bottom of the pit. For the operating line’s bottom loop on a drapery track, a different kind of floor block is used. If the drapery track is also counterweight, the floor block is detachable.
Head Block A multi-groove block that supports lead lines and purchase lines. Its sheave is usually single. For an upright system, the supporting beams are a pair of I-beams strategically placed so that one beam clears the sidewall by three to four inches; the well created is 24 to 27 inches wide.
Loft Block A single-sheave block that passes an individual line through to the batten. For upright systems, the supporting beams are a pair of channels forming a well ten inches wide between the web faces.
Muling Block Used to divert the route of a lead line.
Compound Carriage Includes lead lines that start at the head block beams, travel down and pass through a block on top of the carriage, then up to the head block and across to the loft blocks. This system is used when carriage travel is restricted. It doubles the mechanical advantage and allows the batten to travel twice the distance that the carriage travels. That also means that twice as much iron is required to balance a set. When a carriage exceeds 900 pounds, its supporting rods should be high-tension steel. Similarly, the purchase line can be multiplied through the top block and another block on the lower side of the carriage, with or without the lead lines being multiplied. This will make it easier for the operator to pull the carriage into motion, which is sometimes required for exceptionally heavy sets or to make sets move faster. This is often referred to as “multiple speed” or “high-speed hoist.”
Mule, Donkey A motor-winch, usually portable, for moving counterweight sets that aren’t properly balanced. This device can become hazardous if the operator is not exceptionally alert.


Proscenium Drape, Fire DrapeFire-resistant drapes are usually made from asbestos yarn interwoven with small wires for support. The rig is designed to lower automatically in response to rising temperatures. Most states require a protective drape on a working stage.
BorderA drape that doesn’t reach the stage floor.
DropA fabric drape that extends to the stage floor.
Leg DropUsually made in pairs, one on each side of the stage.
Valance, Valance BorderA fabric border with fullness, usually the first drape behind the proscenium.
CorniceA rigid structure used for masking in place of a valance. Usually made of wood.
LambrequinA fabric border without fullness used for masking in place of a valance, usually stretched over a rigid structure. This term is also applied to a fabric border with fullness in front of a valance and proscenium wall.
Main DrapeLocated approximately 10 inches behind the proscenium. It’s a drop, usually with fullness, serving as the prime masking between the auditorium and stage. Also known as “act curtain,” “grand drapery,” “front curtain” and “house curtain.”
Proscenium LegsLocated in front of the main drape to match or complement it.
Tormentor LegsSimilar to proscenium legs but used on the backside of the main drape.
Grand BorderMade from fabric that matches or complements the main drape. It’s typically used behind the main drape but is sometimes located between the valance and the main drape, especially when the proscenium arch is unusually high compared to its width.
Front DrapesRefers to all drapes that match or complement the main drape.
Teaser BorderThe first border behind the main drape. If there is a grand border behind the main drape, it would be called the “teaser,” “teaser border” or “grand teaser.” If there is no grand border, the next border drape would be designated the “teaser” regardless of its position upstage. At that point, the teaser would likely be the first border in the cyclorama set, with the subsequent borders being numbered.
TravelerTypically a two-piece (or bi-parting) drape operated on a horizontal track. A single drape on a track is called a “dead-end traveler” or “one-way traveler.”
TabA drape that is pulled aside and upward from one edge without disturbing the opposite edge of the same piece.
GuillotineA large, one-piece drop with fullness that’s rigged to be hoisted and lowered.
Concert DrapeA two-piece drape, usually a traveler, that matches the main drape and is located behind it. Also known as “Olio,” but that term is losing popularity.
Intermission DrapeSimilar to the concert drape but doesn’t match the main drape or the cyclorama set.
Scene DrapeThis is a drape used between scenes for short periods while equipment is being moved. It could also be closed and promptly opened to indicate to the audience that there has been a change in time or location. If a great deal of time is required for mechanical changes, the performance could continue in front of the scene drape; this is still called a “scene” if it’s related to the general theme of the performance. However, any action in front of any drape that doesn’t relate to the general theme is known as an “intermission act.”
Cycloramas CycA large drop without fullness that forms a half-circle around the acting area. A Cyc can have fullness and other shapes.
Horseshoe CycStraight across the rear with curves at two corners that continue toward the proscenium wall at 90 degrees or more.
Box CycSimilar to horseshoe, but not curved at the corners.
Open CycSimilar to box, but with entrances into the acting area between the side drapes and rear drapes. Additionally, an Open Cyc could have entrances between the side leg drops, an arrangement that’s increasing in popularity.
Cyclorama SetIncludes matching border drapes and any of the preceding cycloramas.
HeaderA narrow width border primarily used above openings for doors and windows.
SkirtSimilar to the header but used below windows.
Sky DropA plain drop without fullness that’s usually dyed or painted blue to represent the sky. If its batten is curved, it’s called a Sky Cyc.
Scrim DropMade from transparent fabric to obscure the action behind it. This is popular for illusions of mist and dream sequences or for brief scene transitions. Proper use of a scrim requires high skill to avoid lighting when not desired. In Europe, this is called a “gauze.” Exacting technicians insist that sky drops and scrims be made from fabric without seams. These premium fabrics are imported from Europe in widths up to 30 meters (or 98 feet).
Painted Drop, Scene DropUsually without fullness and painted with a scene.
Intermediate TravelerUsually matches the Cyc set and is located behind the intermission drape. If there are two, they’re designated as “Mid-Stage” and “Upstage.” If there are more, they’re numbered.
BackdropPart of the Cyc set. It’s the rear drape on the stage with fullness. This term also refers to the rear drape of a full scene, no matter the kind of drape used.

Stage Directions

Acting Area The portion of the stage proper viewed by the audience during a scene. Excludes the forestage.
Upstage, Down-Stage It used to be quite popular that stage floors sloped and were higher at the rear to improve depth perception of the scene. Thus, down-stage is toward the audience and upstage is toward the rear. Sloping stages are more common in Europe than America
Left and Right These directions are as if the performer were facing the audience, regardless of the direction he’s facing at the moment.
One, Two and Three Segments of the acting area: “one” is the down-stage third, “two” is the center-third and “three” is the rear or upstage third. Each section can be divided into three areas: left, center and right. Thus, a performer could be in “right three,” which would also be known as upright. Sometimes the acting area is further divided.
Wings The sections on each side of the stage beyond the acting area, referred to as “left wing” and “right wing.” In earlier decades, scenery was more often used than curtains. So, if a piece of scenery was placed on each side of the stage without being connected to another piece, it was called a “wing.” In some areas, the “wings” refer to as the space between the leg drops (or wing pieces, if scenery is used); the space beyond is part of the backstage.
Backstage Backstage
On, Off As a performer moves toward the acting area, he is moving “on-stage.” The term “off-stage” isn’t used often because the two words sound so much alike. Now, many crews use “out” instead.
Working Side The side of the stage where rigging is operated.
Dead Side Opposite the working side. Also known as the “far side.”
Prompter’s Side, P.S. Usually close to the proscenium wall on the actor’s right. The side where the prompter is located.
Opposite Side, O.P.S. Opposite the “prompter’s side.”
Cross-Over A corridor formed between the backdrop and rear wall so that performers and stagehands can cross to the opposite side of the stage while a scene is in progress.