Theatre and Film Vocabulary

Triangulating Shakespeare


stage : a temporal and spatial field within which everything signifies

script/text : what a speaker says

subtext : what the speaker means

scene : unit of text with beginning, middle and end, usually marked by entrance or exit

subscene : subunit marked by entrance or exit

speech : single speaker's uninterrupted performance

beat : interval in speech between pauses or changes of thought or mood; a mental breath

director : conductor of rehearsals; audience surrogate

blocking : positioning and movement of actors on stage; always visually perfect

exit/entrance : appearance and disappearance of character; point of emphasis

level : vertical elevation, which usually signifies relative power

stage left/right : location from actor's viewpoint

upstage/downstage : away from/ toward audience

cross : move horizontally on stage

pace : speed of action and speech

tension/release : poles of audience's emotional response

rhythm : pattern of changes in pace and tension

staging, mise-en-scene : the look of the performance

costumes and makeup

sets or setting

props and lighting and sound

stage manager : coordinates rehearsal and performance tasks; assists director

producer : arranges for production with money and organization


shot : single piece of film or videotape, exposed continuously, without cuts

film tonality : graininess, sharpness, and other physical properties of image

perspective relations :

wide angle, telephoto : extremes of horizontal range of image

depth of field : range of distance from camera that subject remains in focus

framing : composition of the screen image

on-screen/offscreen relations

camera angle, height

distance from subject

extreme long shot : outdoor panoramic view

long shot : contains at least full figure of subject

medium shot : half-figure; two or three people

medium close-up

close-up : face shot

extreme close-up : detail

mobile frame (camera movement) :

zoom : change lens focal length like telescope

pan (panorama) : rotate on vertical axis

tilt : rotate on horizontal axis

track (or dolly or truck) : move camera as a whole

crane : make camera leave ground, travel forward and backward

edit : cut and paste shots to assemble film, affecting pace and rhythm, providing narrative continuity or disruption and other significant juxtapositions

cut : instantaneous change from one shot to another

fade-out ; fade-in ; dissolve : alternatives to cut


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