• February 27, 2013


Leslie Uggams in Storm Weathery knows theatre speak.
Leslie Uggams in Storm Weathery knows theatre speak.

All Tickets Inc., the leader in Broadway group discounts and comp tickets, loves theatre speak. The theatre has its own lingo. Although group sales and Broadway discounts are our specialty, theatre speak and also trivia are our passions. Here are a few snippets from the theatre speak lexicon.


“Space” is a common term used in the theatre as in, “What’s your space like?,” “Nice space!,” and “Man, I hate this space.” Space in the theatre refers simultaneously to both the stage and house; that is, it is comprised of the area in which the show is performed and the place from which the audience views the performance and the relationship between the two areas.

Thus, when theatre folks such as directors, designers and producers judge a space they are doing so by using various criteria that often results in a very fast pronouncement as to how good that space is. The essence of “space” is related to whether or not you would like to do a show in that particular theatre and how much the space can be used to benefit what you’re attempting to do.

Nice space!
Nice space!

Going Up

“Going up,” was a term you’d hear a lot in the old days when people actually ran elevators. The person in charge of the elevator would announce to those waiting which way the canister on a rope was going—up or down. In department stores, the elevator operator would often list what floors they would be going to, saying, “Going up—sportswear, men’s suits, women’s department and kitchen wears.” But in the theatre the short phrase has a very different meaning and it has nothing to do with going to a new height. In fact, it’s more related to reaching a low.

“Going up” refers to when an actor forgets a line and this is very much connected to when doing so during a run through or a performance. A conversation after two actors come off stage and one has forgotten a line might go like this:

Joe Actor: I can’t believe it!
Lucy Actor: What happened?
Joe Actor: I went up! I know that scene inside out!
Lucy Actor: Funny, I thought for a second I’d gone up!
Joe Actor: How could I forget that line!

Yes, it’s true as is the case with Lucy Actor in the short scene above, sometimes the one who did not go up thinks they made the mistake.

That Works!

This phrase is often said by a director when they like something new that has just been tried by and actor or when they see some sort of new design element. Someone may ask, “Does that work?” The answer, “Yeah, that works,” is what they love to hear. Of course they may hear, “No, doesn’t work!” or “Not quite working,” which means a solution still needs to be found.

More to Come

There you have it—three examples of theatre speak. We’ll have more on this unique manner of communicating. In the meantime, there are at least 50 different current productions on and productions in rehearsal soon to be on a Broadway stage that are speaking this specialized lingo. Some of those shows may be “Ben Hurs” and some may be “turkeys” (hopefully not), but all are either on “the boards” or “in the wings” and those involved in the shows certainly want them to be “boffo.”

To see one of these shows contact All Tickets Inc. We have group tickets to the best Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and to everything NYC and the surrounding area has to offer. All Tickets Inc. may be reached at 1-800-922-0716.

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