Non-Standard Technical Theater Terms

On February 1, 2001 David Boevers sent the following message to the Stagecraft mailing list
From: David Boevers
Subject: Non-standard Theatrical Terms
Hello all, I'm in the process of compiling a glossary of nonstandard theatrical shop vocabulary. I'd appreciate it if everyone would dip into their proprietary glossaries and send me some good ones. Some examples to get you started:
          "wikki-wikki" & "fwubida" - terms relating to unit stability
          "doesee-doe" & "Iwo Jima" - referring to material handling
          and my favorite so far
          "Toblerones" - for periaktoi.
Anyway, let me know if you've got a good one.
Thanks much,
Over the next couple of weeks list members sent in their favorite terms, phrases and stories from their experiences working in the theater industry. I've taken the liberty of organizing them under loosely-defined categories while trying to maintain the conversational flavor of the posts. If you'd like to contribute, email me at and I'll add your terms to the list.

Hold This End: Units of Measurement
If I Had a Hammer... The Nonstandard Toolkit
Linguistic Diversity
Petticoat Junction: From the Costume Shop
Squints and Squeaks
We Just Might Burn in Hell for This
Moving Scenery
Tech 101
  It's a Concept: Design Style
When the Shui Don't Feng: Architecture for the Theatre
Politically Incorrect Soft Goods
Ooze, Stickum and Slime
Casting Central
Knot Again:
Rope and Rigging
Toto, I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore:
Terms on Tour

Hold This End: Units of Measurement

Skoshe -- Measurement term, Slightly less than a nudge Spelling varies since I've never seen it written. Stephen Litterst

Around here, I've used (in varying proportions) hair, smidge, and scootch.
Which begs the question of conversion factors... If there are 4 hairs to the smidge, and 3 smidges to the scootch, how many scootches are in a skoshe? Or is a skoshe half a scootch? And where do the gnat's ass and nudge fit into all of this? Or are those metric units? Of course, then there are units of force... the oomph, kick, tap, and wallop... anyone wanna try those? Paul D Schreiner

Gnat's ass - unit of measure similar to Skoshe Peter Whinnery

British usage is a 'Gnat's'. To what part of a gnat's anatomy this refers I leave to your imagination, although I believe that, officially, it's a whisker. Frank Wood

Similar to skoshe, here in the South we like to use the term frog's hair, as in "Move that platform downstage a frog's hair." Mike Grismore

"Skoshe" is an Americanization of a Japanese word meaning "small amount." It's transliterated as "sukoshi," and comes out sounding like "s'koshi" and thus, `skoshe'. I first heard this as a military brat in post-War Japan, and suspect that, like so many other useful words of non-English origin, it was brought home by returning soldiers. Pat Kight

I have not heard anyone mention the smallest measurement known to the theatre world, a RCH. Commonly translated as a red c*nt hair... still meant to be a small, small amount. gregg hillmar

On the RCH topic (which I had originally decided to avoid) I have heard distinctions in size based on color (red being the finest hair, an RCH is a more precise unit of measurement than a plain C hair) Colin Buckhurst

Yo-yo = Measuring tape. Steve McBee

Slipstick = Tape Measure.
That one threw me for a loop packing for a site survey. The Production manager asked if I'd packed slipsticks and I had a hard time keeping a straight face when I asked what he meant. Stephen Litterst

Wasn't a slipstick a sliderule? Harold Hallikainen

Guesser... Tape measure Mark O'Brien

Or the measurement Saigons, a unit of measurement brought into being after a successful musical whose theatre plans differed from actuality. Thomas Hares

I remember mixing up a batch of industrial kitchen degreaser to clean the fish oil off of some steel and asking the head carp how much stuff to how much water, and became immediately familiar with the Some-to-Some Ratio. Chris "Chris" Babbie

When something was measured incorrectly, you must have used an Ollie instead of a Stanley. (From Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.) Sigrid Wolf

Zimmer - another term for a cordless drill with screwdriver bits, coined by Al Fanjoy, University of Delaware

Large unit of measure: Butt Load. Obviously not a precise measurement. Be sure not to confuse the Standard with a Metric Butt Load. Sigrid Wolf

Small ambiguous units of measurement: Sure I used skoshe, but I also used smidge, dab, bit, tad, smidgeon, etc. I used these when I was with two high school students trying to bounce focus the Front of House. We never made any sort of conversion chart from one unit to another. Ken Porter

I thought I'd add to "hair, smidge, scootch and rch" one of my favorite new terms: "Just move it a snot". Not pretty, but appropriate and indeed funny. Ed Romanoff

As another synonym for "Precision Adjustment Tool", we have always called the sledge in the shop the Micro-adjuster, the idea being you can move *the entire set* by tiny fractions of a millimeter. Joel Lord

The one we always throw around here is "A metric crap load" not to be confused with a butt load, as this is metric.  It is defined as the max weight that can be lifted by a person, but only if they would get hurt in the process. i.e.: a 150lb speaker

Furlongs per Fortnight is a unit of speed used to measure motorized battens, or really anything for that matter, that travels insatiably slow. The actual speed is 1.033399e-7 mph or 220 yards per 2 weeks. M. Scott

A Correction:
= 1/8 mile or 200 yards Fortnight = 14 days = 336 hours
Furlongs per Fortnight = 220 yards per 2 weeks as defined , but in mph it is .125 miles / 336 hours = 3.720238e-4 mph not 1.033399E-7 as reported by M. Scott    Richard Hill

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If I Had a Hammer... The Non-Standard Toolkit

Whacking stick or Hi-tech focusing aid (broomstick) for lights? Jon Ares

Percussive Maintenance - see Whacking Stick Peter Whinnery

I have heard "Percussive Maintenance" as Percussive Re-alignment. Sigrid Wolf

Also Knockometer. Frank Wood

One of the ones that come to mind here at Syracuse is Toshi (pronounced "toe-she"). It is basically a large pole with foam wrapped around one end (imagine a 18' or 20' Q-Tip). We use it to help push battens/linesets/electrics around "obstacles" on the set. I've also seen a lighting designer use it to "focus" an impossible to reach instrument. VERY handy! I can't think of a load-in or strike that it hasn't been used. David M. Bowman

I wonder if that is named after Toshira Ogawa, a lighting designer who taught at Ohio State Univ. in the late 1970s-early '80s. I remember him as a very good lighting designer, and he could, in a pinch, do a great deal of focusing with a stick. Long stage braces were his favorite back then. Watching him put in a gel from 14' below the pipe was a treat. Steve Boone

When I used to be at the State Theatre in Easton, Pa, a Toshi stick was called a Tit Stick, cause it's used to breast things. Tony Galanti

It started out as a trick played on freshmen, but we more often than not will call a kerf a Bladewipe. It's one of those smile-when-you-say-that things. Gerald Ford

Precision Adjustment Tool = largest sledge hammer in the shop (sometimes referred to as "precision alignment tool") Stephanie Dawson

And the largest pry-bar with a hooked end is referred to as the Ford tool. Chris "Chris" Babbie

American screwdriver = a hammer Pat Dillon

Of course I've heard this one as a Union Screwdriver = hammer.... gregg hillmar

We use to call that one a Chicago Screwdriver. Tom Hansen

I thought that that was a crescent wrench... Michael J. Banvard

Oh, you mean an adjustable ballpeen hammer... S. Mooney

And here I was just telling a crew the other day that a hammer was a bolt-driver and a one-inch spade bit. Amazing range of uses for one tool. David Boevers

I thought we used the screwdriver as a chisel! James Wenting

Heck, after some of my experiences with students in the shop, I thought we used a chisel for a screwdriver! John Bracewell

Everybody knows that *every* tool in your toolbag is a hammer, except for the screwdriver which is actually a prybar/chisel, and the cordless drill which is actually a screwdriver. Dave Vick

Back in my schooldays, I had a very pedantic woodwork master. What we would all call a 'screwdriver', he would call a screwturner. If asked for a 'screwdriver', he would produce a hammer! Frank Wood

Scene from a load-in, Vancouver BC:
American Tour Staging Guy: "Y'all got the greatest things up here in Canada - Roberston Screws. And I have them!" (Passes around the familiar blue boxes, to the delight of the local crew.) ATSG: "And.... I have some Robertson Screw Drivers!" (With a grin and a wink, produces several hammers, to the dismay of the local crew.... but we were actually to use these screws as fascia pins, and later remove them with drivers/turners.) Tom Heemskerk

An Electric's Metric = C-Wrench. Chris "Chris" Babbie

Slappin' Rag While learning scene painting some years ago, I was introduced to a wonderful tool - the flogger. At the time there was a 'non-traditional' (OLDER) student in the class. She saw the purpose of the tool and called it what was - slappin' rag. The term has stuck in my mind, and even today I teach my students the importance of the slappin' rag. Tony Hardin

Micrometer Fine Adjustment Tool = 16 pound sledge used to shift a row of connected platforms a scoche.
Miniature Micrometer Fine Adjustment Tool = 8 pound sledge MPTecDir

I hadn't thought about it in this connection, but a few years ago, working with some students where we were using a 16-pound sledge in addition to several other kinds of hammer, the students starting referring to the sledge as the BFH. You figure out expletive behind the acronym. John Bracewell

: any hammer over 5 lbs that isn't the biggest in the shop (See Precision Adjustment Tool- I was at NC School of the Arts, too) Ron Cargile

Caveman Sledgehammer: stage weight

Friendly Persuader - the largest sledgehammer
Glynnis - the largest sandbag
Bubba-Mag - the largest flashlight
Rope Wrench - knife Tom Heemskerk

Wazzer for a cordless screwdriver Thomas Hares

hmm, you know, i'm so used to the things we say around the theatre, it took this long into the thread to even occur to me that this might be considered nonstandard from the first day's appearance in the theatre of 'self-tapping drywall screws' they have been called zap screws, no known origin for the term. The drawer they live in is labeled zap screws and always has been, and even the local hardware stores know what we mean when we ask for them. And, of course, by extension, this makes your cordless drill/driver a zap gun, which is especially satisfying to us children of the 50's, who remember Dick Tracy's wrist radios and buck rogers' ray guns, and are watching them become reality. We're living in the future! Don Taco

We call 'em grabbers and grabber guns down here - sometimes tech screws and tech guns Mikkel Mynster

In the Juilliard scene shop we had the Kraken - a Porter Cable 3hp router and Barbie's Dream Router - our laminate trimmer. At Seattle Rep we had tuffets which are low rolling swivel stools great for low projects without killing your knees. They were featured in Tech Briefs a while back. Colin Buckhurst

Poop Stick - used to prop up a long header when raising a false proscenium type flat. Merel Ray

A term we use to indicate any tool you can't remember or don't know the name is a woo woo. Richard Schroeder

I thought that was a jobidoo. Rigger

The other term I've always used is TyZingy instead of, "one of those plastic cable tie wraps." Sara Mooney

Audition Slippers - kneepads Colin Buckhurst

Whisky stick... Thing to mark odd shaped wood on a theatrical flat. Closely related to jump stick Mark O'Brien

Tuning Fork = It is piece of wood cut like a tuning fork, hence the name, generally with 3/4" between the tines. One use is to quickly and fairly accurately transfer a line from one side of a piece of wood to the other. Scott Conklin

Tuning Fork = Magic FingersDavid Boevers

We have a black box space that has unistrut along the ceiling for hanging lighting equipment. Around here, the special rectangular nuts with springs on them that thread onto the yoke bolt and lock into the unistrut are called spring bobs. Mark Harvey

Boingy Nuts: Uni Strut nuts with attached spring

Do you already have rope wrench as a monikker for a knife? Mickey Carter

Two pieces of 1X lumber joined at a 90 degree angle (into an L shape) along their lengths = Hog-trough = Whaler(Wailer?) = Strong-back Duncan Mahoney

And hampers are hampsters around here. Susan L. Kelley

Bolt cutters = the master key (especially during year-end locker clean up)
Another one my girlfriend just heard while volunteering at the local museum is ghost poop for packing peanuts. Keith Houghton

Nutcracker--swaging tool
brass knuckles--stage screw
popper - rivet gun
flame thrower--hudson sprayer Michael Sorensen

Set Finesser - a hammer
Set Adjuster - a sledge hammer Will Leonard

Wire-nuts - Chocolate-covered espresso beans
From Seattle Rep Theatre Scene Shop:
HDPE (high density polyethylene) glides, roughly domino-sized, named after the apprentice carpenter who got to cut and drill hundreds of them one season. Glenn Horton

Geek Tool: A generic term for multi-tools (Leatherman, Gerber, Sog, etc.) Eric Johnson

Mr.-Make-It-Fit: 16lb. sledge

anything you can't quite find the name of - "The flammer on the M gun is bent. It bones the fastener." Dave Kaina

Mr. Wood - a block of wood (with electrical tape wrapped around both ends and the name MR. WOOD in the middle) used to shut of many circuit brakers all at once. Will Kent

I seem to always have to ask for the cable stretcher at focus, i.e. a 5' jumper. Shamus McConney

Here are two--used first in Truman University's theatre department, back in the '80's and still in use today, and another, origin unknown:
Nernee (or Nerney): An unknown but important-appearing piece of metal or plastic. You don't know the source, and you don't know what it is or what it's used for or what it's from, but you do know that if you toss it out, it will turn out to be a little used but essential gadget from a critically important piece of equipment, and will cost a minimum of $57.72 to replace (+ three weeks of time and additional shipping and handling). If you keep it around, it will turn out to be utterly non-essential, and will clutter the shop for all eternity.

Thorn: any quick sharp fastener--nail, screw, staple. "Put a thorn in it right there."

Zeeter: Cordless drill/screw gun. Came from a bastardization of Makita. "Send that zeeter down this way when you're done." Also used as a verb--"Hey, zeeter that thorn in for me, will you?" Nancy Whiting

Rope wrench for knife has always amused me [though I, personally cannot bring myself to actually cut a rope due to a traumatic short rope experience I had as a child]. Peter Ballenger

And when I was back at the U. of Hartford, a pinchbar (= prybar = flat version of a crowbar) was lovingly referred to as an Attitude Adjuster. As in: we'll convince that doohicky to *want* to come apart from that thingamajig. Ken Porter

Hey Jeff ( thats me heh heh heh ) run over to the "Taco Cart" (cart with grip equipment) , and get me a " Platapuss" (a vise grip with welded on flat plates for clamping bead board and a baby spud for C-stand insertion. Jeff Baer

At my high school, I once had a crew that refused to refer to the drills as anything but screwdrivers or "the whir-y things". Another crew I had dubbed corrugated nails "scrails". Laurie Thomas

While teaching intro to stagecraft at Florida State I had a student answer the question "Why use screws instead of nails?" with "Because they have better gription"  I’ve used it since.   Jessica Laney

The "Crescent Hammer" is useful for installing or removing bolts, and may be utilized by stage electricians to make adjustments to stubborn equipment. The "Ratchet Hammer" can be an acceptable substitute. The "Implement of Persuasion" is a bigger hammer (i.e., sledge or dead-blow). I picked up this term as a stagehand in Seattle.   Mark Langley

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Linguistic Diversity

Frou-frou (pr. Fru-Fru) -- tiny detail work. "I haven't finished putting the frou-frou and ditz on the backdrop yet." Stephen Litterst

"Frou-frou" is an onomatopoeic French word which literally means "rustle" but came to be used for bits of ruffle, lace and other frippery that made ladies' dresses rustle as they walked. From describing the sound, it drifted to describe the trims themselves. Pat Kight

Let's not forget the late Billy Mintzer's favorite Shmatteh - Rag, anything worthless from the Yiddish. Herrick Goldman

In Hawaii the term wiki-wiki means hurry or quick.
Huli means to flip over top for bottom, and
kapakahi means crooked or lopsided."Shell"

To which I would add "Hemo," literally meaning "to throw" but is commonly used to mean shoving (usually accompanied by much grunting)
And my favorite: "Huli maka huli" where "maka" is eye. If da bruddah wen hemo da roadcase an' slip, he go huli maka huli.... Frank E. Merrill

Terms from Down Under:
- Local casual crew as in Dumb F*** Local
Mechs or Flymans Focus - Where the LD decides their scale drawing of a lamp means an LX bar will go between 2 close Flats with the resultant when flying
said flat.
"fly it in/out a Leckie" - placebo trim on any flown piece.
Snotter - rope piece 6'-10' long with eye splice in one end.
Te KutiKuti (tay cutty cutty)- psuedo NZ Maori for any cutting tool, saw, craft knife, sledge hammer required for some urgent and generally suspect redesign.
"as ___ as a ___ thing" (eg as heavy as a heavy thing, as stupid as a stupid...) used when short on wit when a comment must be made. Craig Hanham; Wellington, New Zealand

Luchtklampen = Air clamps (english) Clamps you use to rig a truss when there are no rigging points at all.e.g. : Can you rig this truss here? Sure give me some air clamps and I'll fix it. It's a term which is often used in Belgium in theatre and rock'n roll when it is completely impossible to rig a truss to a structure like a grid or the beams of the roof.
It can also be used as a way to take the mickey out of people, sending one of the stagehands out to a hardware store and letting him ask for airclamps. I've never known anybody who did not come back emptyhanded, but they always seemed slightly upset.
I hope you understand what airclamps are, if not write me a mail back and I'll send you a drawing. Tom Seeldraeyers

That's ok, Tom. In our tool room they're right between the board stretchers and sky hooks.

Beach: sandbags

Greenie: a small screwdriver usually used for gain adjustment in wireless mics (so named for their usual green handle). Also known as a tweaker. Timothy Folster

Ear Goggles: headphones Timothy Folster

Mic string, Speaker string etc - cable of various types
Mars Bar
: 13A (UK domestic) 4 way adaptor block, happens to be roughly
shaped like a chocolate bar Owen Holmes

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From the Costume Shop

In the costume shop at the Shakespeare festival when they'd pull stock and add frou-frou, etc. for the upcoming show they were polishing turds. Tom Hansen

I was hit in the face with the fact that we have different words for the same things when having a conversation with a costume designer at a cast party. I mentioned that we'd had to "180" a platform , and he took the longest time trying to understand me. When someone else said "pick it up and turn it around 180 degrees," he exclaimed "Oh! Half a petticoat!" Mickey Carter

French Alteration: a placebo alteration done to the costume of a troublesome actor. Jenny Kenyon

Shinies: Reflective bits, usually on a costume, such as sequins, designed to catch the light and draw the eye. "That costume sure has a lot of shinies on it." Also sparklies. Dale Farmer

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Squints and Squeaks

The stage management instructor in my undergrad used to call the box boom position the juliets, because they sat at the edge of the apron and would be perfect for the balcony scene. Lisa Adamsen

Telescoping long-range calibration device - a stage brace deployed by electricians Tom Heemskerk

Woogie lights - the ones that move without a long-range calibration device Tom Heemskerk

The bright 40 watters - placebo replacement music stand lamps Tom Heemskerk

EQ the crap out of it
- placebo audio processing Tom Heemskerk

High Impedence Air Gap meaning, of course, that it isn't plugged in. The8rgrl

On tour one time we went to a college somewhere in the southern California desert, where they had those molded-Y twofers, which they affectionately referred to as Gumbys. At least they hadn't painted them green. Tom Hansen

The theatre I worked at this summer affectionately referred to the molded rubber two-fers as rubber chickens... Andy Leviss

The Whorehouse aka 3-fer blocks (lots of females, and one male) John D. Emery

Some of my high school electricians call 2-fers Pimps. (One male, 2 females.) I don't take with it myself, but I do like the previously
mentioned "Rubber chicken." Jon Ares

When I first started doing theatre back in college, myself and a few others on the light crew were biology majors. We referred to the Altman lighting wrench as the Planaria, a small cross shaped flat-worm that it resembled. Thinking back now, it's one of the few things I remember from that Biology degree! Susan Kelleher

Altman wrench.... We call it a " 'Drac' Wrench" for Dracula. Susan L. Kelley

The wrench some other have called a Century wrench was called a Bash wrench in college. At one job site, I asked if anyone had a Bash wrench, and 2 of the electricians pulled out a hammer. Considering the units we were about to focus, I almost let them use them. John D. Emery

Years ago I arrived in Aruba in the carib to do a tour show ( small dance tour ) had no advance info on the venue, was carrying no gear, etc etc etc. Was informed on the phone upon arrival (before getting to the venue) that they had a good compliment of elbow fresnels couldn't figure out what the hell they meant. Get to the venue, they had a bunch of Strand ( UK ) ellipsodials, base up configuration (this was PRE Quartz) with step lenses. this was an "elbow fresnels" Keith Arsenault

The Thing That Goes BEEP

as in: Please go get the GAM Check.
The what?
The GAM Check.
Black, about this long.... You plug the light into it.
"The thing that goes BEEP."
Ohhhhh! Scott C. Parker

Rubber rope = cable.Susan L. Kelley

Bounce Focus - repeatedly raising and lowering an electric to ground focus it and then check focus when a "Toshi" won't work Colin Buckhurst

Bounce focus = French focusing or yo-yo focusing. Rigger

Zen Focus: bounce focus. Tony Galanti

Carpentry Focus - hitting a light with scenery Colin Buckhurst

Rope = orange extention cords why? ok, once i didnt have enuff rope to secure scenery to the top of my van, but many orange extention cords... and some people never let me forget that day. MartyBlackEagle

An extention cord is a Stinger. Sigrid Wolf

Ma-Bob (short for "thing-a-ma-bob") is another term for a Trombone. A length of pipe usually between 6" and 3' with a c-clamp at one end: used for hanging lights.Sigrid Wolf

SUS (as in Suspect): ringing out the lighting unit to find out the dimmer they are in (dimmer per circuit) John D. Emery

STRAND: Webster's version: to place or leave in a helpless position John D. Emery

cable swag = horse c**k Keith Houghton

Electric Rope - extension cord
Safety Electric Rope - orange extension cord David Boevers

God-mike = mike that the engineer uses to talk back to the performers
Fat Man and Little Boy--old style Kliegl ellipsoidals
Shinbuster--dance lights hung on booms at just the right height :-) Michael Sorensen

or Headbuster - for the same obvious reason.... IAEG

We use the term One-Legged to refer to a broken connector on an XLR. Chris "Chris" Babbie

Alien Mother - the cage built around dimmer beach, with cable running every which way to and from it BACatlarge

Organic Multi-Image Progression Facilitator: stick of wood used to move manual slide projector cross faders. If you had "Rosco" in front of it it costs an extra $100.
Non-Organic Multi-Image Progression Facilitator: same as above but made of a piece of conduit Ken Wesler

Lumo-suck- promised to director who insisted that a fresnel's light not bleed on area around actor. "We'll just aim a lumo-suck at that"

DBG - dark be gone - the opposite of a lumo-suck. Used with a director who didn't want a shadow under a table. "We'll just use a little DBG on that" Ken Wesler

Where I come from, it's "lumasuck" and it comes in spray cans similar to WD-40. just spray a little up behind an instrument and all light bleed vanishes! sam kusnetz

Goldsmith the Cues: Left over from the days of piano dimmer boards on Broadway, before computers did everything. The lighting cuesheets were spread-sheeted by hand in order to be able to follow the cues and used to translate the cuesheets to a cut down road version, or (when necessary) to more modern electronic boards. Derived from the paper it was done on - 11x17 spread sheets printed by Goldsmith Brothers. W H "Batch" Batchelder

Intermittent Cyclonic Turbuloids - created by the lead Audio Tech at the Sands Casino in Atlantic City (I think), this item falls into the placebo category. Someone asks "What's wrong with the sound?" while the tech is trying to fix the problem. The tech, annoyed at the interruption, replies "It's OK, it's just Intermittent Cyclonic
Turbuloids". Also, any unexplainable audio malfunction. Mike Tartaglio

Terms relating to adjusting the ceramic lamp base in the back of a par can, in order to alter the alignment of the filament.
Spin the Bottle
Turn the Banana
Grab the Pickle
William Kenyon

Electron Hose: any sort of electrical cable William Kenyon

Robots: Intelligent (?) lights Nancy Shaw

PEBCAC - a term used to describe why something isn't working through the lighting console due to programmer error........... Problem Exists Between Chair And Console

ESTO - a term used to describe why some equipment just can't be made to operate properly ........
Equipment Smarter Than Operator Nancy Shaw

Hockey-Puck - the SCR diode block in a dimmer module

Dip-Free Cross-Fade: on the old two scene preset lighting consoles, when a designer started making adjustments in quarter points, we used to crossfade to the same exact cue. The resulting dip would convince the designer the adjustment had been made and we'd hear "oh, that looks much better." Thus, we'd be "free of the dip." Someone must have told; we now have dip-'less' crossfaders. Bill Atkins

O-N/O-F-F Discriminator: power switch

Spin the Bottle: turn the par lamp Timothy Folster

Low Copper, High Oxygen Content Connection - It ain't plugged in. (Sounds good over a radio.) Mark Spector

Stage Toilet Paper - its all the tape or gel scraps left of the stage after stripping an electric that always end up stuck to the bottom of your boots. George Fields

BeamOut: similar to "lumasuck", availible in spray cans to eliminate that little bit of light bleeding where the shutter cut just can't (or won't) help you. KT

One term I use a lot when explaining electricity to folks who don't understand it is Magic Smoke. The wire carries it around. Voltage equals pressure, and when the magic smoke starts to leak out you know something is broken. The magic smoke in the wires is also acidic, so don't touch the wires.

Zoobs: slang term for electricity. "Give me zoobs for this dimmer rack."

Power Hose: Electrical feeder and extension cords. "Get some power hose, we need some zoobs for the podium light."

Smoke Testing: Plugging in and turning on any piece of electrical gear after a repair or for the first time. If the magic smoke leaks out, the gear failed it's test.

Gozinta and goesouta: The two dmx plugs on a lighting pack or the connectors on an intercom pack. "Take this DMX cable and and run it from the board up to the gozinta on that pack, then run another from the goesouta plug over to the other dimmer pack." Dale Farmer

When a programmer makes a mistake playing the wrong cue or grabbing the wrong light it can be a Digital Error, as in the digit on your hand.  Ryan Breneisen

Tap Light: Old lights with loose connections or lamps that need to be whacked to come back on. I've seen this done with a shoe thrown from the stage, 25' below.   Eric Allgeier

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We Just Might Burn in Hell for This

Does an 'Altman Wrench' resemble a 'Century Wrench'? [cast aluminum to match the cast aluminum lekos] Richard D Niederberg

I believe it does. In our neck o' the woods, we call both a Jesus wrench. Chris Davis

Although I think the term has pretty much disappeared from recent usage around here, we used to call the small set bolt on that locked the yoke stud on a Century C-clamp a Jesus Bolt. I think the origin of the term was the amount of profanity occasioned by any of the following:
1. Finding the bolt just loose enough so that, although it felt OK when you focused, the instrument would slip at the slightest bump.
2. Finding that someone had removed the bolt altogether.
3. Finding that someone had gotten overly enthusiastic in trying to make sure that the instrument was tight, wringing the head off the bolt.
4. Finding that the bolt was loose, but that the unit was hung in a position such that you couldn't get a wrench in to tighten it. John Bracewell

Pan bolt being the Jesus Bolt ('cause that's what you say when it breaks), or the awh S%#T screw. Susan L. Kelley

When I was a kid, my dad showed me a little spring retaining clip that installed in a groove in a rod to keep stuff from sliding off the end. He told me it was Jesus Clip. When I asked him why, he told me that's what I'd be saying when every time it flew off somewhere as I tried to get in on or off. I'm afraid that, over time, my name for these has gotten a bit longer and a lot less spiritual. Also applies to really small cotter pins. Ken Erfourth

Nails and spikes 20d (4") and larger = Jesus Nails
Screws and lags longer than 3" = Jesus Screws Duncan Mahoney

Jesus factor... allowing something to not be quite right Mark O'Brien

See also Jesus Paint

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Moving Scenery

We would dead dog legged platforms at one theatre. That is flip them legs to the air. Scott Conklin

wikki-wikki & fwubida - terms relating to unit stability David Boevers

Along the lines of wikki-wikki is wonga-wonga. Scott Conklin

Barbecue (bar' bi kyoo), v., to flip over a flat or similarly flat piece of scenery while carrying it horizontally. [From the process usually applied to nice racks of baby back ribs. As in, "let's barbecue this flat before we Iwo Jima it (thanks to someone else for a term new to me) or the pretty painted side is going to face upstage"] Jim Dougherty

I've heard rotisserie for that same maneuver. MissWisc

We call it Surabachi-ing a piece here. (After the mountain on the island of Iwo Jima.) Dave Vick

This is similar to the term 180 [as in degrees of arc] a flat or set piece, whether on the X, Y, or Z axis. Richard D Niederberg

The Muncie 180 = when you put the scenery down and the stagehands switch ends. A friend swears two students did this in Muncie when told to 180 a flat and put it in the truck. Brian Crow

86, as in "86 that platform before you put it down." Meaning, I believe to reverse it or "do-si-do" it. '86' is supposed to have originally come from the food service industry. It meant that the item was no longer available from the kitchen, The cook would shout "86 the tomato soup!" as he poured the last bowl. The migration to the bar and club industry included the original (to be out of a certain drink) and also referred to patrons who were no longer welcome. "He's 86'ed, he can't come back in here." In theatre, I have only heard this referred to meaning to lose the item, as in "86 these flats (strike). Anyone who knows where the original came from, I'd love to know. Chris "Chris" Babbie

Float [I] - lower a canvas flat by footing it, and letting air resistance cushion the fall
Float [II] - dismantle scenery by pretending it's actually canvas flats Tom Heemskerk

Falcetti - to stand on the unloaded side of a frame and pretend to foot it for the guys actually touching the scenery. Always taking the lighter side of anything heavy. ie. "Dave go Falcetti that wall while they rig it to the pipe. Named after an actual Local 33 stagehand. Dave Dawson

New York a Show means to label all pieces and parts of equipment in the shop prior to load-in. Nancy Shaw

When working with my crew, a phrase often used is "kill this". which generaly means:
    a tool: to get it out of direct sight or put it away
    scrap wood: to throw out
    a set piece: to strike. Heidi Hunt

I work at a touring venue and we occasionally have to remove some rows of seats from our orchestra section which come apart in sections of three or four seats attached to a platform. The seats sit on the back edge of the platform and are top-heavy so when we place the unit on a four-wheeler to roll them to the loading dock, they are often off balance. One of our Master Elex is, shall we say, petite, and can't do the lifting required to get the units from the orchestra floor to the stage, but she happens to be a perfect weight to sit on the front of the platform as a counter balance to the chairs while they roll to the loading dock. So this began the use of the term "Meghann-Weight" to indicate any time we need a small person to sit on the platform and be rolled across the stage.

This eventually turned into a term used for any time we needed a human body to simply hold or balance an object so the folks who had more strength and lifting ability could be free to do so. At one time or another we have all been the "Meghann-weight." You often hear someone on crew holding onto a road case at risk of rolling down the raked aisle asking if anyone is available to be a Meghann-Weight while they get something out of the case.

The term can also be altered to be used as a height indication for people on the fly rail, as our TD is 6'5" and sometimes forgets that most people cannot easily hang a pipe that is over their heads. So we call out a direction to the rail such as "First Electric in to Meghann-Height please!" (regardless of whether Meghann is actually working that day.)  Zhana Morris

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It's a Concept: Design Style

One of my professors often designed in a style he referred to as Circus Wagon Baroque Stuart Wheaton

One designer I work with loves Firch and Gnerr (sp?) which refers to rustic set dressing. The firch is hard stuff (tools, farm implements etc) and the gnerr is softer (foliage, burlap etc). Colin Buckhurst

Toblerones - for periaktoi. David Boevers

Our shop calls them Pterodactyls Sarah Gowan

These are probably quite ancient but there are two materials I've come to realize are utter necessities demanded by virtually all designers and especially technicians. They are:
Unobtainium: when nothing else will do;
Instantanium: when you need it right away and overnight delivery isn't fast enough. Ralph Bloom III

Re:Unobtainium: it comes from Faroffistan Jay Young

Acoustinite Audio Enhancing Flooring similar to Masonite
Strange thing about's properties change in direct relation to the benefit of the person that is being asked to do the in, if it's already down, audio quality will be better if it stays down........    Damon Carvalho

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Politically Incorrect Soft Goods

Front Curtain: House rag, or just rag. Mikkel Mynster

West Coasting soft goods Herrick Goldman

East Coasting
-- traditional flying of a drop
Mid-Westing -- tripping a drop Stephen Litterst

West Coast... Tie the scrim to itself, and throw it in the bag or hamper.
East Coast... Stuff the damn scrim in the hamper. Mark O'Brien

How 'bout - goods:
legs = tormentors
borders = teasers
Or the look on the new kid's face when we say we're going to "hang the blacks"?? Tom Hansen

Reminds me of one of the worst notices I ever saw posted on a call board:
"Volunteers needed to dead hang blacks for Raisin In The Sun". Sorry, it's true :-) Chris Davis

Yeah, I've experienced that. On a related note, one of my students thought I said "stretch the Muslim" not "stretch the muslin" on the flat frame...that also brought a look of abject horror... Shawn Palmer

I learned never to use that expression. My first tour with my previous employer through the highlands and lowlands on Virginia. We were in a KFC/Taco Bell discussing what we had to do after the lunch break. The TD said "Well, I think we need to hang the blacks before we do anything else." The restaurant got quiet. We finished eating in quite a hurry and got out of there. It's draperies and legs and stuff for me now. Stephen Litterst

Sitting in a bar at lunch. Just finished hanging the soft goods for a show. They'd been in hampers for quite awhile and were dirty. I turned to my foreman and said..."after lunch break out the corn brooms for the crew and beat the blacks. The bar got very, very quiet. We explained. We left. We never went back. Bill Sapsis

Anybody ever yell "Kill the workers"?? Pat Dillon

Not exactly the same but it jogged my memory of the time I was told to go get a "dead baby seal" to weigh down a flat jack. My face must have looked pretty horrifyed, cause he broke down and pointed to a pile of cut inner tubes turned into sand bags. Dead baby seals. Merel Ray

Since we're in North Carolina, we can do this, but I wouldn't use this term above the Mason-Dixon line. When you're in a BIG hurry, and you run the border (leg, other stage black) into the floor and roll it up in a big, round ball (down its longest side, of course) so that it resembles a giant hay bale and toss it into a hamper, this is "Southcoasting". John Andrew MUNRO

Along the lines of “southcoasting” a soft good, sometimes things get blintz-folded around here, describing a piece of goods that begins being folding with the best of intentions, only to end up looking like a ball of mess. This usually happens to large panels like blackout drapes. Chris Kennedy

Hard Goods - As opposed to soft goods aka anything that is flown, but is not made of fabric, Example, portals, drum kits. Coined during a Blast! tour stop. Donald Kramer

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Casting Central

Full Cleveland : producer type in a pale green leisure suit, gold chains and white patent leather shoes. Paul Richardson

The Canadian version of this is the Full Nanaimo, except the leisure suit is white.... Charlie Richmond

Not to be confused with the Nanaimo Tuxedo, which is always a skookum plaid, and is never to be tucked in nor buttoned up. Tom Heemskerk

Nut driver = former, directionally challenged, employee with ability to superimpose side of truck and carport roof ........ and not notice. MPTecDir

Garlic Snapper - classical musician
Thumper - dance school performer unlikely to turn pro
Posers - non-working personnel, just above groupies
Board-Treader - a one-time performer from way back when, at a reception Tom Heemskerk

Rake Rat - the skinny guy who has to go under the deck to "toe it in" Colin Buckhurst

And I don't know if we want to go that route, but there's the whole world of nicknames for all of our various jobs (board whacker, squint, squeak, stage mangler etc) Colin Buckhurst

Gopher = the person who gets supplies (especially the decaf coffee and bagels) John D. Emery

Circuit Tester - the new guy on the crew or intern. Wilma's system wasn't well-grounded. Usage: "Hey circuit tester, grab that pipe and see if it's hot" Ken Wesler

Diva Patrol - person who walked an actor to their car/apartment Ken Wesler

Toad - a box-pusher or volunteer (because they just do what they're "toad") - also called an Egyptian (think pyramids) Glenn Horton

Stage Carpenters and/or Scenic Techs are Wood Weasels, Wood Butchers, Deck Jocks Mike Tartaglio

Meter Maid: a production manager (time and money), also a Clockwatcher ("when's break?") Bill Atkins

A good rule of thumb for the audio assist - Always eat what the mixer eats so if it's bad, you both get sick and you don't have stay and mix the show alone. And if you do get to go out for lunch/dinner and the mixer doesn't, be sure to tell him how good it was when you get back. Mark Spector

"You've been dutched" - made the victim of an inept repair or assembly. After a Florida stagehand. Have you noticed that most stagehand locals have members named Dutch, Liverpool, Junior, Hairball, and Animal?
Riggers and flymen are sometimes nicknamed "yo-yo". Bill Atkins

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Ooze, Stickum and Slime

Splattering - misspelled form of painting technique. Richard Schroeder

I always like gooshi-gooshi or nuckemfuky for mastic, sealant, or caulking. "Shell"

'Round here that blue stick-em they sell for poster art and for stabilizing props is well known as Schmooie Andrew D Carson

Fluffyshmoogoo - light weight spackle Kurt F Oian

I worked in a regional theatre years ago that called water-based contact cement (it was green or blue colored), Gorilla Snot. Tommy Louie

No NO NO That stuff is Smurf guts, or Pureed Smurf.... Stuart Wheaton

If we want to stretch "technical" to include makeup (and why not?), we've always referred to cheapo hair gel as Elephant Snot. The same term was often applied to the wallpaperpaste mixture used to wet down and apply muslin dutching back when we still used soft-covered flats Pat Kight

I recall that the yellow Insulating Lubricant for pulling wires was known as Elephant Snot. Richard D Niederberg

Expanding polyurethane "spray foam" = Elephant Snot Duncan Mahoney

How about Jesus paint? Back at USU, we used to have a 5 gallon paint bucket that all the paint leftovers went into that would be mixed up and used as base paint. Since it would sit for weeks at a time, it would get rather ripe. We'd send freshmen over to get the Jesus paint. When asked why it was called that, we'd pry the top off and say, "Whew! Jesus!" Michael Sorensen

At one school I was at, we called this stuff toxic waste. Here at OU, it's lovingly called ass paint. Clare Adams

I hope this doesn't upset anyone here, but at one of my schools, that bucket of musical comedy grey (olde paints in one bucket) - the students call it the dead infant grey due to the unholy smell. Jon Ares

And the color is poodle s**t brown after you mix 'em all! Susan L. Kelley

BooBoo Be Gone: flat black paint

Roll of Paint: Gaffers tape used to "paint" an object black Ron Cargile

Holiday - You missed a spot! Sarah Gowan

Stupid 88: that gooey crap used for texturing Dave Kaina

Monkey Snot: the double stick gel-like tape used to "install" small scenic pieces on larger scenic pieces. Nancy Shaw

Spooge (and Spooge Gun): Any caulk-type product and the tool used to apply same. First heard at a farm auction in PA Amish country, and too good to pass up. Spooge is now used for any thick, sticky, messy product you slap in or on something else to add texture or fill in gaps. Nancy Whiting

Comesie-Gosie: Painting term meaning that the coverage should not be even. A close relative of scumbling but usually using only ONE color or wash. Eric Allgeier

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When the Shui Don't Feng - Architecture for the Theatre

Black Box - obvious to us but I think the rest of the world thinks flight recorder when they hear it Colin Buckhurst

We have a closet that's below a staircase which is only about 3'6" clearance, known as Tattoo's Office. Gerald Ford

Dimmer Beach, Monitor Land, Guitar World - production areas onstage Tom Heemskerk

Bastard Stage - prompt corner on the off-prompt side Tom Heemskerk

Gravity Well: Roughly cylindical area of space centered on anyone working at heights from the floor to the person working.

Here at the Phoenix Theatres, University of Victoria we have a furniture storage room called Wicker World, another storage area called Hobbit Land and our Gel storage/Lx fixit space is called Sick Bay. Keith Houghton

Blender Sports - Opening night party in the tech offices Glenn Horton

Halfway House: area for set storage between the stage and shop. Keith Taylor

At USM we have 2 main spaces - the "Thrust" and the "Black Box". In between the two spaces catwalks is our lighting storage room called "The Cave" after the Bat Cave from Batman. It got it's knickname because our LD Grad student has a pouch with about 3 multi tools and pens, pencils, knives, lighters and cigarettes, named the Bat Pouch. Jason "Blue" Herbert

Another dilema was solved when working at a local high school which had four electrics. When we were screaming instructions to each to focus we had to say words not just letters so......starting from the house going up stage. A-Audience, C-Center (Stage), D-Drop, but B was a problem because it was over the pit, and there isn't a b word other than bassoon and that isn't cool, so we coined the term Borchestra. Andrew Woodbridge

Favorite term for the video production area: Video Village. Always makes me think of Hillary..."It take a village"...sometimes more truth than not in video production.

Another gem for the audio mix position (aka: Front Of House) is the term: Mix World...probably because the universe revolves around them. Tom Moyer

Archeological Sorting: How the storage room is arranged. The oldest stuff on the bottom, the newest stuff on the top. 'I sorted prop storage archeologically. ' Dale Farmer

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Tech 101

One of my favorites is the thing you sometimes found when setting up your set for the first time. We used improved stage screws a lot and after the set was in position we want around and put inserts into the floor to hold down our jacks. when there was already one there, it became a Magic Hole. John Chenault

Wonky = not ezzackly plumb, Chris "Chris" Babbie

Marketing Repair = "Oh, yeah, thats custom distressing, we didn't charge you for that..." Chris "Chris" Babbie

Dog-earred referring to flat condition, Richard Schroeder

I hadn't thought of this in a long time, but when I first got to Ithaca, we had a student who didn't know the correct name for ethafoam backer rod. So he called it electric dildo! John Bracewell

Our properties instructor has her own language in the shop which we have dubbed "Sandeez":
Staple the piss out of it - be sure the upholstry material is well secured
Tits on a worm - a very detailed prop Kurt F Oian

Gak - little frou-frou stuff
[Insert country of your choice] Road Case - cardboard box on tour
[Insert another country of your choice] Velour - tarpaper used as masking or skirting Tom Heemskerk

Jiz / Kak - same as gak, when used as a noun. (*Gakked up* being something else entirely)

Toeing in - driving nails or screws at an angle Colin Buckhurst

Gazinta - A piece of hardware that fits into another (that piece gazinta the other one). Susan L. Kelley

" a monkey f***in' a football" = used to describe the situation when a person or group isn't really qualified for the task they are trying to
accomplish ... (see also "cluster-f***") Fred Schoening, Jr.

see also Goat Rodeo IAEG

I always thought it was... This looks like 3 monkeys trying to f##k a football. Mark O'Brien

And the sound guys refer to it as three monkeys trying to f*** a balloon. It adds a soundtrack to the vivid visual... Chris "Chris" Babbie the client is represented by a committee of three, none with stage experience; their lighting guy is colour blind; their two sound guys are deaf; it's the first show of the tour; and we are into the 9th hour of a 5 hour load-in. Somebody (it may have been me) refers to it all with a spontaneous approximate spoonerism, calling it a "flustercluck"... Art Norris

Around here "I'm going to find a wrench" is the polite way of saying that you're headed to the restroom and might be there for a while. Christopher Hofmann

Working on films, I learned that a clothes pin is a C-47 Sigrid Wolf

C-47 is the military parts number for a milspec wooden clothespin of specific dimensions and pinch strength. Richard D Niederberg

...and let us not forget some of the nifty phrases the military have generously loaned us, such as:
FUBAR = F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition
SNAFU = Situation Normal: All F***ed up Fred Schoening, Jr.

TARFU = Things Are Really F***ed Up Colin Buckhurst

OSRIC = Oh S**t, Run In Circles Stephen Litterst

From Australia : "Kangaroo Edward"   (Roo Ted): Australian euphamism for non-op  (or, more precisely, the FU part of SNAFU) As in "that light is Kangaroo Edward" Regards from Down Under - Bruce Heath

MUNG(ed): Mashed Until No Good

MUNG: Miscellaneous Unclaimed Nonessential Garbage. Much more colorful than 'Misc' when labeling a drawer or box containing leftover bits + pieces. Told to me by my father. Although he was at one point a techie, this may have originated from a coworker in a photography studio. Ken Porter

SANO: cleaning the stage space for the arrival of the talent John D. Emery

Tango Uniform - which is code for TU, or Tits Up. Refers to anything totally dead. William Kenyon

IN: Down
OUT: up
STRIKE: lots o' work John D. Emery

Going over to the dark side. When a tech auditions for a role. Randy Whitcomb

To beat upon something with a hammer until it resumes working or moves into position = Dynamic Recalibration Duncan Mahoney

To break apart scenery with a sledgehammer = Scene Shop Croquet Duncan Mahoney

A term an old engineer I worked for once frequently used described pounding the side of a rack or a piece of equipment until it started working again. The term: lateral maintenance.

"Lose this": phrase spoken to someone being handed an item that needs to just go away.

We had had a minor train wreck during a show, and were discussing it in a rather animated fashion afterwards in the bar. I said something to the effect of '...and everyone was yelling at me, and I couldn't get the knife out of the dog...' A couple of people nearby were apparently quite taken aback. So for non-standard terms I would add:
Train Wreck

finger welding--anytime you get a shock Michael Sorensen

From Kansas City's Starlight Theater (thee ate' er), the shop motto (a dozen years ago or more): "Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with a chalk, cut it with a chainsaw." (I actually saw painted scenery being trimmed onstage with a circular saw, with actors onstage, during tech rehearsal - while those of us in the house (8000-seat outdoor theater) were dodging spent shells from the city's July 4th fireworks being shot off from the field behind the stage.) Glenn Horton

"NFG" -- the label that goes on non-operational equipment. Cris Dopher

Gridfrog- the noise made from the grid if a tech finds the need to break wind while working overhead (or anywhere, for that matter). Also known as Texas Barking Spiders. The odor is explained by saying "probably just some old paint". Mike Tartaglio

We routinely use something called an HBR. It stands for Hassle-to-Benefit Ratio. When the HBR gets to be negative, we go for a drink......... Simon Raybould

Gravity Test, v. to drop something (usually being thrown out anyway) from a great height to make sure gravity is still working. Brandeis University, 1994. We did a Gravity Test with a huge wooden desk during strike, trying to see if we could hit the dumpster from the 4th floor (rather than carry it all that way). Yep, Gravity Works!

Throwing or Slinging Pig: the process of loading or unloading counterweights William Kenyon

Buttering Mouse Turds - doing non-essential paint notes

Stick a Fork in It - its done. Bill Atkins

Cattywampus: for something rickety, skewed, otherwise misaligned or approaching failure (cannot remember the name of the prop tart who taught it to me but she was good theater folks) Eli

Working in a small theatre, in the middle of Pennsylvania has led to the use of the term Cattywampus to describe the normal state of our delivered lumber. This term means that the wood is not only cupped, but bowed and warped. Andrew Woodbridge

Doofer: this is more of a Stage Managerment term, I guess, referring to a rehearsal prop that is standing in for the real thing. Taken from, this isn't the real thing but it will doofer now. KT

Boat Anchor: Any heavy object that is useless but still kept around 'Just in case...'. Derived from what would be a better use for the object in question. See also Doorstop

Doorstop: any nearly useless heavy object that has not yet sunk to boat anchor status. Dale Farmer

A mate of mine, Ken, refers to a CTTM, Crash Tinkle Tinkle Moment. It is that moment at which a, usually expensive, piece of equipment meets an irresistible force or immovable object. These moments usually happen when you have had a visit from the Fuck Up Fairy. Kevin Blyth

When you have a problem that cannot be explained or is an operator error...we call that an I.D.10 T. Error.  It's more polite to write it that way, especially if it's your boss.    Jonathan Barber

Intern or Freshman Management Tool: Any heavy object that can be wielded; preferably with low wind resistance. Examples include: short lengths of pipe, scrap 2x4, broken broom handles and bar clamps. It makes a good answer when a young, bright-eyed newcomer holds up a big, old-fashioned nail puller and asks, "What's this?"  Eric Allgeier

A.S.S.C.A.N. - Act Surprised, Show Concern, Admit Nothing  Daniel Pattillo

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Knot Again: Rope, Rigging

Tips - Canadian pipe-ends
Pipe-ends - American tips Tom Heemskerk

Tail-down - To suspend a batten or other piece of scenery below the real batten, for various reasons, usually with aircraft cable. Tom Hansen

(Contractor's name withheld) Bowline - a term I heard somewhere we were recently to describe the not-a-knot used by said contractor's employees to send stuff to the grid. BACatlarge

Triple Halifax - that knot ya run across that you can't identify, but has more ins and outs than conceivable
Predator Knot - same as above Tim Resch

Around here, that's a Triple Yocum, named for Jim Yocum, one of our prop guys who is genetically programmed to be unable to tie any knot
properly. (Can I get an amen, Phil Johnson/Rich Lindsay?) Also known as a Halifino knot. As in:
"What kind of knot is *that*??" (with disgust in the voice)
"Halifino..." Dave Vick

We call those knots a friction knot. Don't know what kind of a knot it was meant to be, but friction seems to be holding it.
Along those lines (sorry for the pun) how about the gopher knot: any knot that requires you to go for your knife to "untie" it. John D. Emery

Lotsa Knot: similar to the "Friction Knot". Lotsa ins and outs and loops and whatever that will probably hold but shouldn't have been used.
Gravity Knot: Same as "Friction Knot" and "Lotsa Knot". It holds due to the gravity of the situation should it fail. Ron Cargile

Many years ago I was preparing to rig a production of Peter Pan in a theatre in NC. After getting the theatre specs, told the producer that she would need batten extensions in order for us to hang enough track (so that the operators were well into the wings). I was told "OK." When I got to the theatre, there were no batten extensions. When I asked why, she said that no one there knew what a "batten" was. When I pointed it out to her she said, Oh, you mean a "BAR." I think I have been on at least two jobs since where I have heard this term used. Delbert Hall

Have we had Sundaying as a reference to tying a snub line yet? Colin Buckhurst

Hasn't everybody at some time wished they had a Sky Hook to magically hang something. Especially where there is no fly space! Sigrid Wolf

Breasting AKA: Hootering (being PC; cuz there is a restaurant with that name) John D. Emery

Spanner at The Herberger Theatre Center, Phoenix AZ: a loader who puts one foot on the T-track while loading (not allowed - thats for Uncle Bill) John D. Emery

Piss on that bag: adding just a few more pounds to a sandbag John D. Emery

And of course, woof! means "that's good, lock it." That was coined when someone on the rail got impatient and said "SPEAK!!!" Mickey Carter

Pipe end: McCarter's (Princeton, NJ) definition: "where the pipe ends, and the air begins" John D. Emery

Counterweight = Pig Duncan Mahoney

Cheesebourghs have become Cheeseburgers Steve Waxler

Swivel Cheesebourghs = Cheeseburger
Fixed Cheesebourghs = Hamburger    Ryan Breneisen

Picnic Line: the hand line with a bucket on the end from the fly floor or loading bridge to the deck. Used to send small parts and (mostly) coffee aloft. W H "Batch" Batchelder

Hatchet Knot: any knot you need a hatchet to undo Keith Taylor

Double-Twisted Chicken Hitch: just like it sounds ( from the collected wisdom of John (Ugli) Bradshaw "If you can't tie a good knot...better tie a lot of knots") Eli

Holy Knot - This is a knot of seemingly random twists loops and hitches that you either a) pray will hold will you tie it, or b) pray the culprit responsible for it gets hit with a rather large sandbag as you dig out your Knot Wrench. Jeremy Hopf

"Duck or Bleed line set coming in mid stage." It's pretty self explanatory. Andrew Woodbridge

When I was on tour with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, as the flyman, we had a 3 second gap in between 2 songs in "Revelations". In that 3 second gap a blue scrim had to fly out and the white scrim had to fly in. I was told by the Master Carpenter (E.J. Corrigan) that he didn't want to hear an "Audible Trim Mark" when the white scrim came in.
Audible trim mark = bottom pipe smacking the deck.
I always took the white scrim "in" pull and let the house flyman take the blue scrim out that way there was never an "audible trim mark"   Rick Neidig

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Toto, We Aren't in Kansas Anymore: Terms on Tour

A couple of decades ago in summer stock I overheard an actor talking about the tools in the scene shop refer to the radio alarm saw. John Himmelberger

Radio alarm saw reminded me of a tool we use called the nomadic air gun. the name obviously from badly spelled test answer. Richard Schroeder

Brownwood Texas, February 1978
Joffrey II Dancers Tour.
Venue: HS Auditorium
Crew: HS Students carrying empty Coca-Cola cans to spit their tobacco in ( I am not makin this up )
First Order of Biz: Clean dead rodents out of dressing rooms before company arrives ( I am not makin this up )
Second Order of Biz: Scratching head at first then trying to not laugh too hard when finding out that their term for glass rondels is Gelatoids ( I am not makin this up ) IAEG

Many years ago I used to do sound for the annual lampoon show done by the graduating class of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. It was an extravaganza of effects and scenery, with the humor tending toward the gynecological. Over the years they had developed an entire lexicon of "theatrical" terms, and I decided it was easier to speak to them in their language. A few examples:
Battens were "poles", drops were "flyers". You'd "cone in" a followspot to make the beam smaller. One would "tease a flyer down" until it was at the right height at which point it was correctly "teased". And of course stage left and stage right were reversed -- that was the only one I asked them to change, to protect my sanity. Paul Garrity

My friend John Tissot tells another tale of the Three Rivers, about the time he was loading in at Pittsburgh's Civic Light Opera and the house electrician came up to him and asked what he should do with the killer whales.
"The what?"
"The killer whales. You know, the whales! With the killers in them!"
After a few minutes of this, it was discovered that the electrician was saying "color wheels" in Pittsburgh-ish. Paul Garrity

When Washington Ballet came through our hall, they had "Beer Pusher" listed on the trucks inventory. We said "beer pusher?" They said at a college stop one of the "stage hands" saw their hand truck and said "oh, you have a beer pusher" they said "a beer pusher?" The kid said "Yeah that's one of those things the guy at the beer store uses to push the beer kegs around." Curtis S. St. John

Gak: From folk music festivals. Everything else on a stage that doesn't belong to the sound crew or the backline guy. Music stands, chairs, cups of water, etc. Dale Farmer

[name of person or animal] piss. Gatorade or other electrolyte drink for the crew at tent events. If it starts to taste good, you are getting dangerously dehydrated. Dale Farmer

Dirt Pile #1 - The crappy town in the middle of nowhere you're playing this week.

Dirt Pile #2 - The crappy town in the middle of nowhere you're playing next week.  John Musarra


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