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C. B. Purdom

Producing Plays - A Handbook for Producers and Players

Author: C. B. Purdom (editor)

First published: 1930 by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

Format: Hardback 7½" by 5¼" with 231 pages

  (click image to enlarge)  



My copy of this book has a label stuck in the front which says: "Bromley (Kent) Musical Competition Festival. Presented to Captain Oswald Tuck. 1st Prize for original plays. A. T. Harris, Chairman of Committee. Nov. 29th 1933." I have discovered that Oswald Tuck (1876-1950) joined the Royal Navy in 1896 as an instructor in astronomy and navigation. He served in the far east where he learnt Japanese and became a naval translator. He served in naval intelligence in WW-I, and afterwards became Admiralty historical archivist. He wrote a naval history of WW-I. In the 1930s he worked for the BBC as a Bible reader, and took a keen interest in drama, writing and directing local amateur plays. In WW-II he taught Japanese to students recruited to decrypt military cyphers at Bletchley Park. [Information about Oswald Tuck came from the Internet.]

The book is illustrated with 20 pages of black-and-white photographs, most of which show half-page tableaux from theatre performances. There are also some line drawings in the text.






Chapter I - The Producer

  The Producer's Sphere
The Producer's Personality *
The Producer and the Author
The Producer as Artist
Production and the Actor *
Some Common Faults of Production
  (a) Lack of Balance and Inconsistency
(b) Imperfect Playing Together
(c) Missing the Climax
How to Become a Producer
A Central Bureau

Chapter II - Choosing the Play

  The Object in View
The Four Rules
  (a) Pleasing Oneself *
(b) Pleasing the Players
(c) Pleasing the Audience
d) Practical Questions
Choosing Good or Bad Plays ?
  (a) Comedy
(b) Tragedy
(c) Romance
(d) Farce
(e) Naturalism
Plays in Verse
Original Plays *
One-act Plays
Lists of Plays
A Summary

Chapter III - The Actor

  The Actor's Personality *
Women on the Stage *
The Actor and his Part
The Amateur Must Work
The Study of a Part
The Damning Fault of Egotism, and the Ideal Spectator *
The Actor and the Author's Meaning
The Power of Speech
The Actor's Technique

Chapter IV - Rehearsing

The Producer's Copy *
Cutting Plays
The First Reading *
Study the Personalities of the Players
Diction and Pronunciation
Dress Rehearsals
Loyalty to the Play
Rehearsal Notes for the Producer *
Rehearsal Notes for the Actor

Chapter V - Stage-Management

  The Need for the Stage-Manager
Should the Producer or Stage-Manager Also Act ?
The Organization of the Stage
  (a) Stage-Manager
(b) Prompter
(c) Stage Carpenter
(d) Properties
(e) Electrician
(f) Wardrobe Mistress
Eating and Drinking
Stage Effects *

Chapter VI - The Stage

  The Necessity for the Stage
What the Stage Is
The Auditorium *
The Construction of a Stage
Using the Stage One Has
The Need for Small Theatres *
Open Air Staging

Chapter VII - Scenery

  The Test of Scenic design
The Scenic Designer and the Producer
The Question of Realism
Interior Scenes
Exterior Scenes
Experimental Staging *
Practical Matters
  (a) Properties
(b) Flats
(c) Drop-cloths
(d) Ceilings
(e) Scene-Painting
(f) How Scenery is Supported

Chapter VII - Costumes, Wigs, Make-up, etc.

Wigs, etc.

Chapter IX - Lighting

  The Principles of Stage-Lighting
How to Get a Well Lit Scene
The Electrician
Lighting Equipment
Lighting Effects
The Lighting-Plot

Chapter X - Finance

  The Treasurer
Costs of Production
Dramatic, Copyright and Author's Fees
"Front of House" Costs
The Charge for Admission
An Example of an Amateur Company's Finance
Miscellaneous Matters

Chapter XI - The Audience

  The Public Must be Won
The Power of Suggestion
No Two Audiences Alike
Make Your Own Audience
The Use of the Programme
The Ideal Audience

Chapter XII - The Uses of Criticism

  The Need for Informed Criticism
The Criticism that Amateurs Require
The Value of Self-Criticism
Amateur Dramatic Festivals *
The Place of the Amateur Theatre

A Glossary of Stage and Theatrical Terms

A Selected Bibliography


* I have reproduced below the Preface, Glossary, and Bibliography as well as short excerpts from sections marked above with an asterisk.




The Preface:

This book has been written to assist amateur producers of plays. A good stage producer is born, not made; but there are large numbers of people who take part in plays as amateurs and some of them have to become responsible for production. Very few of these producers have any opportunity for training themselves, and though they may be born producers they need some knowledge of stage technique. That technique, like all other technical knowledge, is only to be gained by training and practice. What I have attempted to do in this book is to give some guidance based on my own experience that will help amateurs to get their practice in the right way.

It may be asked, why cannot amateurs rely upon professional producers ? The answer is that there are not enough to go round. As the best producer is one who knows most about the practical working of the stage and combines with that knowledge the powers of an artist of the theatre, he is likely to be a professional actor. But it is unfortunately true that professional actors are by no means necessarily capable producers. One has only to look at the professional stage to see that good producers are extremely rare, and such producers are not available for amateurs. The professional actor who specialises in amateur production is seldom much good for anything beyond the mere elements. He is frequently ignorant of much that he should know about the mechanical working of the theatre, and even if he has such knowledge and is himself a good actor it does not follow that he has any skill in production.

Any professional actor can teach any amateur a great deal, and no wise amateur will fail to acquire such knowledge whenever he gets the chance. But production is another affair altogether. Amateurs should beware of depending upon professional actors who will put them through a play for the sake of a fee. They will learn very little in that way, and will achieve little more than imitation of the professional stage.

If an amateur company does by chance find a professional actor who really knows his business and has capacity as a producer, they should stick to him. He will be able to do for them more than any but the most exceptional amateur producer can do. Most amateur companies, however, will have to depend upon themselves and find their producers from among their own number. This will mean for the persons concerned an immense amount of hard work, ceaseless study of plays on the stage, and as much practical experience of the actual working of the theatre as possible.

Amateur playing is worth while when done with sufficient thoroughness because the drama is a popular art, that is an art in which many people can take part, with an appeal to the great mass of the public. It is not an art, therefore, that need be left wholly to professionals. I do not say that there is any particular merit in amateur playing as such; for I am only too conscious that much amateur work has nothing to be said for it. Too many amateur companies are satisfied with incompetent slip-shod work. This need not be if they would take sufficient trouble, and in particular if they would encourage the efforts of capable producers. The best of the amateur companies know this, and their work therefore ranks high and is worthy of serious critical attention.

The new amateur dramatic movement is something quite different from amateur theatricals, that old established social amusement. It is an interest in the drama for its own sake. Those who take part in it as producers, actors and designers are interested in the technique of the theatre. Its most satisfactory feature, both in England and America, is that many amateurs are seeking to produce their own work, that is to do plays in their own way, and also to do original plays.

The further development of this dramatic activity depends largely upon the skill and efforts of amateur producers, to whose direction amateur players subject themselves. I offer this book to producers as a contribution to their studies. While I have written it for them and for amateur players I have the hope that it may interest others who care about the theatre too. I have made the index pretty full and hope it will be found useful by readers.

I have to thank Mr. Cyril Nairne, Mr. C. Harold Ridge, Mr. C. F. Huggett and Mr. R. Hammond for help given me.


From The Producer: Producer's Personality:

The producer must be one in whom the players have confidence. His personality must be right and he must understand his work. He is a leader and must be capable of leadership. He is a director, and must be able to direct. Mr. St. John Ervine, in one of his London Observer articles, said some amusing and true things on this matter:

Let it be understood, too, that a producer must be a person with a strong character. A young gentleman was once pro posed to me as a producer, and my reply was to invite the proposer to look at the producer's face; a weak, dreepy-drippy sort of face, obviously belonging to a man with about as much personal force as there is in a penn'orth of suet. Conceive of such a man assembling a company of diverse men and women, most of them possessed of some kind of ardent temperament, and attempting to make a team of them. One actor of authority or an actress a bit above herself would make mince-meat of that producer. I have noticed that it is this kind of weak-as-water producer who yells and screams at his cast, or rather at those members of it who are not sufficiently established to be able to answer back. The man who understands his business, and is able to impose his authority upon the players, can do it without developing signs of the palsy.

The producer must be sure of himself. Not "cock sure," but with the confidence that comes from a thorough study of the play and of the means available to get the result he wants. If he goes quietly to work, making his purpose clear, letting the players understand the lines on which he is working, keeping a firm hold on himself as well as on them, he will have no difficulty.

A producer who is not sure of what he wants, who consults the players when in a difficulty and allows discussion of problems as they arise will never succeed. Players must be willing to subject themselves to his direction, obeying him honestly and cheerfully, giving him their unfaltering support; and the producer must respect their confidence and give them the leadership that they deserve.

From The Producer: Production and the Actor:

When the producer gets a play to do, the last thing he should remember is how it was done before. I always prefer to produce a play I have never seen. He should look at the play, however old, however well established in the tradition of the stage, as a new work. It is wrong to try to discover the old business and repeat it. The tricks and outworn business of the old actors should not be kept in Shakespeare or Sheridan or Goldsmith. They make these plays stale both to audience and players. The old business does not fit the actors of to-day; it is finished. Mr. Granville-Barker's three Shakespearean productions at the Savoy Theatre, London, in 1912, are memorable largely because he thought the plays out afresh and gave them new business.

From Choosing the Play: The Four Rules: (a) Pleasing Oneself:

When I am choosing a play for production I look for one that pleases me; that I think will please the players; that I expect to please the audience, and that is practicable. These four rules, though quite simple, will, I believe, never lead one astray. The producer should look for a play that he likes because it is hope less to expect to do any good with a play that one does not care for.

From Choosing the Play: Original Plays:

Amateur companies ought to spend much more time in searching for original plays than they do. An original play, even if it is not quite so good as a well- known play that you could do, should be chosen in preference to it. By doing original work amateurs can contribute something original to the theatre in playing, staging, and in the plays themselves.

From The Actor: The Actor's Personality:

An actor must have personality. He may be ugly, deformed, ignorant, with every possible physical and mental drawback; but so long as he has personality and the skill to exploit it he has the first qualification for the stage. Almost every kind of handicap can be overcome except lack of personality, so that no one should think of acting who does not possess this natural gift.

From The Actor: Women on the Stage:

One of the objections to women on the stage is, I suppose, if I may be pardoned the digression, that it is regarded as unpleasant to see a woman exploiting her personality for public approbation, as she must if she is an actor. An actor gives himself away to the public; he reveals himself, not as he likes to be considered but as he is, letting the audience see into some of the secrets of his nature, or if you please, into human nature in him. Women actors must do this too, and can, as experience shows, do it successfully; for women in daily life are accomplished natural exploiters of their personalities. Yet there is an objection, or has been in the past, on the part of some men themselves rather than of women, to witnessing the unfolding of human nature in the female on the stage.

From The Actor: The Damning fault of Egotism, and the Ideal Spectator:

A tendency of amateur players after a little experience of the stage is to develop excessive egotism. Success upon the stage has the effect of stimulating personal vanity. Even those who are capable of knowing better are often influenced by applause, so that their judgment is disturbed. Hence arise frequent quarrels and jealousies among companies of players.

It has to be remembered that actors, including amateur actors, are temperamental, that is, are nervous and highly strung. Success and the appreciative applause of others have the effect of exaggerating this. Actors should be aware of it and endeavour to counteract it. The successful amateur comedian often receives great applause. It is not surprising that he frequently becomes self-opinionated, and forgets that he knows very little. He is found to take less and less trouble with his stage work. He plays when he chooses and refuses when he thinks fit. In the end, of course, nobody can stand him, and a promising actor is lost.

From Rehearsing: The Producer's Copy:

Before rehearsals start, the producer must think out the whole play. He must work out the complete performance in his mind with the actors he has available. He must be satisfied that this imaginary performance is a good one before he proceeds further. The play must then be prepared in detail and everything set down on paper.

From Rehearsing: The First Reading:

When the cast has been arranged, and the producer has fully worked out the details of the play, he should call the members of the cast together and read the play to them. Alternatively, he can get the players them selves to read their parts aloud. On this occasion the producer should talk about the play, and explain his way of working. He should, indeed, at all times be as explanatory as possible. He should encourage the players to discuss the play, and particularly their own parts. He cannot, of course, allow a discussion of his methods or ideas; for though they may be worthy of discussion, that is not the time and place for it. In particular, he cannot let what he purposes to do with the play in hand become matter for debate. If there is not time at the first reading to say all that is necessary of a preliminary and general character, a second call should be made for this special purpose. The producer should do his utmost to let the players know what he has in mind regarding the play generally and about their particular parts; but he must avoid anything in the nature of argument. It is an advantage at this stage to let individual players talk about their own parts; but no player should be permitted to discuss or comment upon any part but his own.

Do not encourage discussion about the way in which the play was done in some other production which any of the players saw. Invite them, if any of them ever saw it before, to forget it. I never encourage players to see the play we are going to do, if by any chance they are able to do so. I have found this to be a mistake. What is liable to happen is that certain actions or incidents, a mannerism of an actor, or a particular piece of business may stick in the mind, and an endeavour will be made to introduce it by the player himself.

From Rehearsing: Rehearsal Notes for the Producer:

Leave nothing to chance.

Start rehearsals promptly. The producer should never be late and should inculcate such a sense of responsibility in the players that they are always punctual. This is one of the most certain means of creating a sense of efficiency and maintaining an atmosphere in which discipline is easy.

Visitors should never be allowed at rehearsals. They may cause distraction and create embarrassment. Players should not be permitted to bring their friends. Only those who are concerned with the play should be present at any time. I have never found any good to come from the presence of outsiders, and frequently much harm. Visitors may talk about what they have seen to their friends, with results that are never advantageous, and they are liable to discuss their playing with the actors and interfere with what is being done.

Talking and laughing by those who are waiting to come on should be forbidden. It is irritating to players who are working, and those who are self-conscious are likely to feel that their playing is being discussed. Players waiting for their call should be silent.

From Stage-Management: Stage Effects:

All effects "off" must be well rehearsed, properly timed, and under the control of a reliable person. Often the stage-manager attends to them himself.

The following are some of the more usual effects required:

Have an iron sheet 6' x 3' thick as a permanent part of your stage equipment. The effect is got by shaking it.
Make a wooden cylinder with two circular end pieces joined by laths nailed to them and fitted in a frame with a handle and cover the cylinder with ordinary canvas.
Two halves of cocoa-nut shells knocked on the wall for street or road effect, and on a leather cushion for running on turf. There are special clackers which are more effective.
An old file and a carbon fixed to a piece of flex and plugged up. When the effect is required rub the carbon on the wire. Lightning can also be done by turning the stage light rapidly on and off.
Roll some shot in a tin; or peas on a large drum. If the rain is to be seen let rice drop through a trough, if you have no water-tank.
Use an effect lantern. Or small pieces of white paper hung in a canvas trough with holes in it. The trough should be suspended over the side and pulled from side to side. Put salt on the players' boots and clothes.
Sound of sea-waves can be done as for rain; use rice for the sound of the spray, throwing it up and letting it fall.
  Door closing
Use a heavy weight, or bang one of the dressing-room doors.
  Door knocker
Fix an ordinary door knocker to a piece of wood, not to the scenery.
  Revolver shots
Hit a leather cushion with a thin cane.
  Heavy Gun-fire
Use the big drum. Or fire a revolver into a dust-bin in a passage or small room near the stage.
  Exhaust Steam
Use a compressed air cylinder.
Two pieces of glass paper rubbed together for the steam; and heavy iron rollers for the wheels. Or run a garden roller across the back-stage.
  Carriage or horse-cart
Run light rollers across back-stage or small barrow wheels.
  Broken glass or china
Tip some broken glass or china from one box to another.
  Lions, Bears, etc.
Howl through a lamp chimney.
  Opening Champagne bottle
Burst a paper bag.
The noise of a crowd "off" should be got by a number of players having each certain words to say and they should be placed in a passage or room near the stage. Sometimes a gramophone can be used.

From The Stage: The Auditorium:

At the Welwyn Theatre, opened in 1928, the width of the auditorium, is 66 feet, and its length on the ground floor is 95 feet, the balcony extending a further 5 feet 6 inches. The incline of the floor is .79 inch per foot, which is barely sufficient. There are gangways in the centre and at each side; the seats are placed in straight rows, 16 each side of the centre gangway. The ground floor can accommodate 918 and the balcony 250, a total of 1168.

From The Stage: The Need for Small Theatres:

Very few amateur companies have stages of their own in England. The Oxted and Limpsfield Players in Surrey, the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich, and the Unnamed Society of Manchester are among the few. The work of these companies has a permanence that is due very largely to their possession of a stage.

The advantages of having a stage of one's own are inconceivable. Only then can really good work be done. It gives an opportunity for experimenting, without which serious work on the stage is hardly possible. It makes possible the proper testing of lighting, the satisfactory designing of scenery and adequate rehearsal.

In America many amateur companies have theatres of their own that surpass anything that exists in England, among them the Dallas Little Theatre, Texas; the Pasadena Community Playhouse; the Cleveland Playhouse and the Berkeley Playhouse. A large number. of American Universities and colleges have their own theatres too.

The outstanding need of the amateur dramatic movement is for small halls, seating from 350 to 600, with reasonable stage accommodation. There is a need for buildings of this sort in practically every town in England, including London, where it is hardly possible to get a theatre at all. If such halls were provided they would give immense impetus to the movement for the good productions of plays by amateurs. Expensive buildings are not required, and the stage accommodation need only be simple: the essential requisites are ample space, plenty of lighting points and two good dressing rooms.

From Scenery: Experimental Staging:

Usually plays have to be specially written or adapted for the new staging or else Shakespeare becomes its victim. I tried the experiment at the opening of the Welwyn Theatre of treating a realistic light comedy, written for conventional production, in this way. The play was entitled When the Heart is Young, by my friend Mr. W. Millington Limb, and the critics said that I spoiled a delightful little comedy; perhaps they were right. The scenes of the play were two drawing rooms in South Kensington, London; one belonging to an opulent manufacturer, the other to a highly placed civil servant. The principle observed in the production was to formalise the entire action of the play and to stage it with a complete absence of realism. I do not pretend that it was a success, for it demanded a great deal from the players, and the staging, lighting and costumes were experimental. It also demanded much of the audience and many of them were perplexed. It showed, however, that non-realistic treatment of modern plays was practicable, and gave great scope to the actors as well as to the scenic designer. I hope to repeat the experiment elsewhere.

From The Uses of Criticism: Amateur Dramatic Festivals:

The competitions between amateur theatrical companies held in England and America, known by the name of "tournaments" or "festivals" have a value in encouraging critical attention of amateur production and acting and in testing the work of producers and players. The British Drama League has organized three National Festivals of Community Drama and the fourth will take place in 1930. One hundred and twelve amateur companies took part in the first in 1926-1927, one hundred and sixty-four took part in the second in 1927-1928, and two hundred and five took part in 1928-1929. The aims of the Festivals are "To assist the development of the art of the theatre and to promote a right relation between the drama and the life of the community." The specific objects of the Festivals are declared to be:

(a) to raise the standard of production among amateur societies by according them the opportunity of receiving criticism from an impartial adjudicator and of testing their work before a wider and more critical public; (b) to promote a high standard of dramatic appreciation among audiences, and (c) to encourage the progressive element in the amateur theatre.

The Festival is organized in four areas: Eastern; Western; Northern; Scotland; each of which has its own Area Festival. The National Festival is held in London when the companies which gained the first place in each Area Festival play for the award of the Lord Howard de Walden Cup. That cup was won for the first time in 1927 by the Welwyn Garden City Theatre Society, for its performance of Mr. Sampson, in 1928 by the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Players Club, for a performance of Sir J. M. Barrie's play The Old Lady Shows Her Medals and in 1929 by the Liverpool Playgoers Club, for The Devil Among the Skins, by Ernest Goodwin.




A Glossary of Stage and Theatrical Terms

There is no good modern dictionary of stage terms, and in putting forward the following list of words I do not pretend that it is complete; but I offer it as a first attempt at the preparation of such a dictionary, in the hope that it may be found useful not only by amateurs but by students of the stage generally. Some of the words have other meanings than those in which they are used in the theatre; I have not taken note of those meanings. Terms that are not peculiar to the theatre, though used in it, such as electrical and architectural terms, etc., I have ignored as a rule; also I have generally omitted slang. Descriptions of stage "effects" are not included here but will be found in Chapter V, pages 76 to 87; descriptions of certain lighting apparatus will be found in Chapter IX, pages 140 to 143. The index should also be consulted as some terms defined in the Glossary will be found described in greater detail in the text of the book.

A.S.M. Assistant stage manager. He is often also the prompter.
Act (a) One of the main divisions of a play.
(b) To perform a part on the stage.
Act Drop A painted cloth that can be lowered in place of the tabs.
Acting Area That part of the stage on which the action of the play takes place.
Acting Manager
The business manager of the theatre, who is responsible for all business arrangements and for the "front of the house."
Action The movement of a play as carried on by the actors.
Actor One who impersonates a character or acts a part on the stage.
Actor Manager An actor with his own company who is (usually) his own producer and star player.
Adaptation (a) A play altered in translation from one language to another.
(b) The modification or abbreviation of a play for a particular audience.
After-piece A short play or scene following the main item of a programme.
Amateur (a) One who loves or is fond of or has a taste for the stage or the theatre.
(b) One who cultivates acting as a pastime as distinguished from one who follows it professionally.
(c) It is sometimes used disparagingly, as of one who is incompetent, or a dabbler, or a superficial worker.
Amphitheatre A circular, semi-circular or oval building with a central arena.
The part of the stage that extends in front of the proscenium. Sometimes called "Apron-piece," "Apron- stage," or "Fore-stage."
Part of a dialogue spoken by an actor which the audience is intended to hear while the other actors are supposed not to hear it.
At Rise The stage when ready for the rise of the curtain.
Auditorium The part of the theatre from which the audience witnesses the play.
Back The portion of the stage behind the scene. Hence, "Back-stage."
Backdrop A curtain, or painted or plain cloth, dropped across the back of the scene.
Backing Sections of scenery used to mask doors, windows or other openings.
Balcony Spot A spot light placed on the front of the balcony to light the front of the scene.
Ballerina A female dancer in a ballet.
Ballet A theatrical dance with pantomime. Hence, "Ballet Master," one who trains the dancers in a ballet.
Band Room
The room usually under the stage used by the instrumental players when they are not at their places in the orchestra.
Bar See Batten.
(a) A piece of pipe or timber, usually 1" or 1½" in diameter, supported over the stage from the grid, to which scenery is attached.
(b) A row of lights suspended over the stage.
Black Out An instantaneous switching off of all lights on the stage.
(a) See Mask.
(b) Lights placed on the floor of the stage outside the proscenium facing the audience sometimes used when changing a scene without lowering the curtain.
Blocks Wooden or steel cases surrounding a pulley wheel over which the line travels for flying scenery.
Boards The stage.
Bobbins Wooden runners on the curtain wire to which curtain hooks are attached.
Book The prompt copy of a play.
A strip of canvas suspended from above used to mask the upper part of the stage, to screen the lights, and to represent sky, ceiling, over-hanging trees, etc.; numbered from 1 upwards, starting from the proscenium.
Border Batten See Batten.
Border Light See Batten.
Box Light A metal box with a high powered light and a reflector, but no lens. Must be used with a screen or colour frame.
Box-scene A scene constructed of flats, joined together to make an interior. Also called a "Box-Set."
An extending piece of timber about 1" square with a hook at the top which is attached to the flats by means of a screw eye and fixed to the stage floor by a weight, or a screw, for the purpose of keeping scenery in a rigid, position.
Brail To move a hanging piece of scenery by hauling it out of the vertical by attached ropes.
Bridge (a) A transverse section of the stage capable of being raised or lowered.
(b) A gallery across the back of the stage used for painting cloths hung from the grid.
(c) A gallery directly over the proscenium used for spot-lighting and other purposes.
Broad Comedy A part or play in which the comic element is made obvious. Hence, "Broad Comedian."
Buffo A burlesque actor.
Bunches A metal hood or reflector containing a number of lamps for stage lighting.
Burlesque A play or part in which exaggerated mockery is made of persons or a situation.
Burner Lights Round or square clusters of lamps on standards.
Business (a) The action and movement of the actors as distinguished from dialogue.
(b) See Line of Business.
Call (a) When an actor is summoned to a rehearsal.
(b) When summoned on the stage to play his part.
(c) When called before the house at the close of a play or act.
Call Beginners Direction to the call-boy to call on to the stage the actors who open the play.
Call Board A notice board usually placed near the stage door, on which notices affecting the staff or artists are displayed.
Carpet Cut
A narrow floor board with hinges immediately behind the "tabs" to allow the stage cloth to be clipped in. This obviates the use of nails and the possibility of an actor tripping over the cloth.
Cast (a) The list of players taking part in a play.
(b) To cast a play is to select the actors for the parts in a play.
Ceiling Spot
A spot-light fixed on, or in an opening in, the ceiling of the auditorium to light the front on a particular part of a scene.
Centre The centre of the stage. Hence, "Right Centre," "Left Centre," "Down Centre," "Up Centre."
Centre Line A line from front to back in the centre of the stage from which positions are given. (See Centre.)
Character A part taken by an actor on the stage.
Character Part A part in which peculiarities or eccentricities of character are stressed in make-up and playing.
Choreography The art of stage dancing.
Claque A body of hired applauders.
Cleat An iron or wooden fixture to which a cord can be tied for making scenery firm.
Cloth Canvas scenery suspended from above.
Clown An ancient stage character, a jester, dressed in motley, and usually shown as a fool or knave; in Shakespeare sometimes a yokel.
Colour Frame Frames into which are placed coloured gelatine or glass for stage lighting.
Colour Mediums Sheets of coloured gelatine or glass for stage lighting.
Columbine The female part in the Commedia dell 'arte.
Comedian A comic actor.
Comedienne A woman comic actor.
Comedy A play with an agreeable ending.
Comic Opera A light opera with a happy ending.
Commedia dell 'Arte
Improvised comedy of the Italian stage, in which the parts were always played by stock characters, the same actors playing always the same parts. It flourished from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, though based on ancient tradition, and survives to the present day in the Harlequinade.
Community Drama Plays suitable for acting in a Community Theatre.
Community Theatre
A theatre organized with the object of presenting plays for the entertainment or enlightenment of a community rather than for commercial purposes.
Concert Batten The first lighting batten, behind the tabs, known also as No. 1 batten.
Concert Border The border used to mask in the No. 1 batten if not done by the tabs or pelmet.
A method of production in which the action of the play is placed on different levels by the use of scaffolding, ladders, steps and platforms.
Costume Play A play performed in classic historical or outmoded dress. Hence, "Costume part" and "Costume actor."
Costume Plot A list of the characters in a play with their costumes for each act.
Counterweight System
A system for flying cloths, scenery and curtains, similar in construction to that described under "Grid," in which weights are used for balancing, and the short, long and centre are controlled by an endless rope. It reduces the labour necessary for operating.
Crepe Hair Prepared wool sold in a plaited form for use in make-up for beards, etc.
Cue (a) Words or action on which an actor speaks or acts.
(b) A signal for lighting, working the curtain or other action by the stage staff.
Curtain Call When actors are called before the audience at the fall of the curtain on a play or act of a play.
Curtains Material suspended from above to screen the stage from the audience, or for draping the stage in place of scenery.
Curtain-raiser A short play performed before the main item of the programme.
Cut A narrow transverse section of the stage that can be opened. See Carpet Cut.
Scenery cut to a pattern to represent trees, shrubs, etc., some parts of which may be mounted on gauze. They are numbered from 1 upwards, starting from the proscenium.
A large piece of curtain or canvas draped or hung smooth in a curve around three sides of the stage, used to represent sky. A permanent cyclorama consists of a curved backing to the stage, constructed of concrete or timber and plaster, and of sufficient height to be masked by the front of the proscenium. Also known as "Panorama."
Dead-Head A member of the audience who has made no payment for his seat. See Paper.
Décor The scenery, or setting of a play.
Decoration The adornment of a play, the stage setting.
Dialogue The words spoken by the actors on the stage.
Diction The manner or style in which words are spoken.
Dim A direction to decrease the light on the stage.
Dimmer An apparatus for reducing the light on the stage.
Dips Small traps in the floor of the stage containing adaptors for plugging in lighting units.
Director One who guides or controls a company of players or a play. See Producer.
Discovered Said of a player when on the stage at the rise of the curtain.
Dog-town A town in which a play is "tried-out" previous to its performance in the metropolis.
A plaster or canvas cyclorama that curves at the top of the stage from the back towards the front in the form of a dome.
Down Stage The portion of the stage nearest to the audience.
Drama (a) Plays in general.
(b) A play with a serious ending.
Dramatic Action on the stage, particularly striking or impressive action.
Dramatist A writer of plays.
Dramatis Personae The characters of a play.
Dress rehearsal A complete rehearsal of a play immediately before the actual performance.
Dressing the House Distribution of complimentary tickets to people who will attend the performance.
Dressing Room Rooms near the stage in which the actors dress and make-up.
Drop Curtain A painted cloth to let down between the acts.
Dry Up To forget one's words in a play.
Effect Projector
A lighting apparatus, or an attachment to an arc lantern, for throwing pictorial or moving colour effects upon a scene.
Elevator Stage
A stage consisting of two floors one above the other to enable a second scene to be set while the first is being used.
Encore The demand by the audience for a repetition of a song, dance, etc.
Ensemble The general effect of a scene.
Entr'acte See Interact.
A method of writing, acting, or producing a play in which an attempt is made to express the thought or emotion of the artist directly, usually by other means than the resemblance to real life.
Extras Ladies or gentlemen engaged to walk on. (See Super and Walking on.)
A dramatic composition of a light nature that is intended to be fantastic and exaggerated in its situations and character.
F.O.H. Front of House.
False Proscenium A structure placed around the Proscenium to lessen the height and breadth of the stage.
False Proscenium Border
A curtain immediately behind the top of the proscenium opening which can be raised or lowered to mask in the scenery at the top.
Farce An amusing play consisting of absurd and improbable situations.
Feature Men Actors who specialise in "star" roles and only appear as such.
Feed To play up in a scene to the leading actor.
Fireproof Curtain
A specially prepared curtain made of asbestos and iron, constructed to fit dose up against the proscenium and to cut the stage off from the audience.
Fit-up Temporary stages, prosceniums and equipment for converting an ordinary platform into a stage.
Flat A section of scenery constructed of timber covered with canvas.
(a) The part of the stage above the proscenium opening into which scenery is raised or flown.
(b) The working side for stage hands, always out on the O.P. side of the stage, called this name by reason of the ropes and machinery for the purpose of flying the scenery being on this side.
Float See Footlights.
Flood Light A metal box with a high powered light and a reflector, with or without a lens, used for lighting broad surfaces.
Fly To hang anything above the stage.
Fly Floor
A gallery for stage hands, on the wall, at a height just above the proscenium on the O.P. side and running from down to up stage. See Flies.
Fly Gallery See Fly Floor.
Fly-rail A rail on the fly floor to which the lines used for flying scenery are tied to pins or cleats. Also called "Pin-rail."
Follow A stage lighting term meaning to follow an actor with a spot light.
Footlights A row of lights with reflectors placed along the floor in front of the stage.
Fore-stage See Apron.
Fortuny System A system of stage lighting by indirect means by an Italian inventor.
Fox Wedges Wooden wedges used under flats on a stage with a rake to keep them perpendicular.
Frame-piece See Flat.
Front of House The auditorium.
Front Piece A short play or scene preceding the main item of the programme, some times called a "curtain-raiser."
Gag Words introduced into a part by an actor, either impromptu or rehearsed without forming part of the book.
A transparent substance obtainable in sheets in a wide range of colours for use in stage lighting. Called "Mediums."
Grand Drapery See Pelmet.
Green-room A room, near the stage, for the use of the actors, where they may meet and wait for their "calls."
Grid or Grid-iron
A skeleton roof over the stage from which lines over pulley blocks, running P.S. to O.P. are fixed for the purpose of raising and lowering scenery, curtains, borders, lighting battens, etc. To ensure that curtains, etc., are level when lowered it is necessary to have 3 blocks and one bend to each doth suspended; these are known as "short" for the line nearest the flies, "long" for the line on the prompt side, and the middle line is called "centre." When the cloths are found to be perpendicular the lines are tied off to a cleat on the fly floor.
Ground Row Low pieces of scenery to form walls, fences, hedges, etc.
Hand-props Properties that are brought on to the stage by the actor.
Hanging Piece Any piece of scenery that is flown.
Harlequin or Arlequin, one of the minor characters of the Commedia dell 'arte; now one of the characters in the Harlequinade.
A play in pantomime, the characters being Clown, Pantaloon, Harlequin and Columbine; a survival of the Commedia dell 'arte.
Heavy Man
An actor who takes important serious parts; at one time applied to villains, but now used of other important non-juvenile parts.
Histrionic Used of actors and acting.
House (a) The auditorium.
(b) The number of persons in the audience, for instance "a good house."
House Lights The lights in the auditorium.
Ingenue An actress who plays a young girl's part.
Inter-act Music, dancing or some other entertainment performed between the acts of a play.
Interlude A play belonging to the sixteenth century performed in a simple form either with dialogue or in dumb show.
Interval The time between the performance of one act of a play and another.
Juvenile An actor or actress who plays a young man's or a young woman's part.
Ladder Lights See Proscenium Lights.
To play "lead" is to play the principal part; hence, "leading lady," "leading man," "juvenile lead," "second lead," etc.
Lead Blocks
Wooden or steel case surrounding 3 pulley wheels through which the short, long and centre lines travel from the grid down to the fly floor. The left hand side of the stage when facing the audience.
Light Ground Row A batten used on the floor of the stage.
Lighting Batten A metal structure wired for electric lamps running from P.S. to O.P.
Light-plot A schedule of the lighting for a play with the cues indicating where it is required in the scene.
Line of Business The parts in which an actor specialises.
Lines for Grid 1¼" hemp or ½" wire rope.
Little Theatre (a) A small theatre, without necessarily any other characteristics.
(b) Used in America for the Amateur Theatre.
Low Comedy
A part in a play in which the comic element is both strongly stressed and of an elementary nature, Hence. "Low Comedian."
Make-up The make-up of the features by wigs, false hair, and cosmetics.
Manikin Another name for marionette.
A doll used to represent persons or animals worked by strings for the performance of plays, ballets, etc., on a miniature stage, with or without spoken dialogue or music.
(a) An entertainment in costume with music and dancing, sometimes with dialogue, often given at Court in the seventeenth century in Europe and usually performed by amateurs, in which the guests in disguise sometimes took part.
(b) A covering made of velvet, silk, papier maché, or other material, for concealing the face, or for covering the entire head to represent a particular character.
(c) To cover a part of the stage from the view of the audience.
Masque See Mask (a)
Matinée An afternoon performance; also known as the "Morning Performance."
Melodrama A play of a sensational character with strong action and a happy ending in which virtue triumphs.
Mezzanine Floor A floor underneath the stage.
Mime An actor; "to mime" is to act.
Miracle Play A religious play of the middle ages. The scenery and properties of a play as set on the stage.
Monologue A scene in which an actor speaks by himself.
A species of play intended to teach some moral or religious lesson and used specifically of the plays in the middle ages in which the characters personify abstract qualities.
Music-plot A list of the music for a play with the cues indicating where it is required to be played.
Musical Comedy A play with music and dancing of a light and vivacious kind.
Mystery A religious play of the middle ages. See Morality and Miracle Play.
Naturalism See Realism.
Numbers The songs and dances in a musical play.
Off The part of the stage not in view of the audience. Hence, "off stage."
On the Road See On Tour.
On Tour Said of actors when performing in a play from town to town.
Opera A dramatic composition set to music with or without spoken dialogue, in which the music is the main feature.
Opera-bouffe An opera of a burlesque character.
Operetta A short light opera.
Opposite Prompt or O.P. The right-hand side of the stage opposite the prompt-side.
Orchestra The part of the theatre immediately in front of the stage for the use of instrumental performers.
(a) A performance or tableau on a stage on wheels in the open air.
(b) A spectacular play with processions dealing with a historical subject usually, though not always, given in the open air.
Panorama See Cyclorama.
A character in the Commedia dell 'arte, representing a merchant, Columbine's father; survives as an old clown in the Harlequinade.
Pantomime (a) A play in dumb show.
(b) A comic scene performed by clown, pantaloon, harlequin and columbine with dancing.
(c) A Christmas entertainment with music and dancing, usually with a fairy tale as plot.
Paper A ticket of admission to a theatre for which no payment is made.
Pastoral A romantic play in a country setting.
Peg See Stage Screw.
Pelmet A short curtain or drapery placed just behind the top of the proscenium to mask in the No. 1 lighting batten.
A structure fixed at either side of the stage just behind the proscenium opening for the purpose of operating a light on the scenery.
Picture-stage Methods of staging and playing in which the proscenium arch is regarded as a frame for the stage picture.
Pierrette A female member of a company of pierrots.
Peirrot A clownish travelling singer with a whitened face and a white costume.
A composition in dialogue for performance on the stage. A "One-Act Play" is a play in one act usually though not always in one scene, lasting normally from 20 to 50 minutes; if less than 20 minutes it is called a "sketch." A "Full Length Play" is a play sufficient in length for a complete programme, normally from 2 to 3 hours.
Playbill A bill or poster announcing a theatrical performance.
Play Doctor
One whose business it is to re-write, re-arrange, or otherwise amend the book of a play to make it suitable for performance. Sometimes called "Stage Carpenter."
Player See Actor.
Playgoer One who habitually goes to the theatre to see the play.
Playhouse A theatre.
Playwright The writer of a play.
Plot The plan of action in a play.
Any scenery or properties, such as a door, window, fireplace, etc., capable of actual use in the business or action of a play.
Premiere The first performance of a play.
Prima Ballerina Leading female dancer in a ballet. Leading female singer in opera.
Private Theatricals A performance of a play by amateurs in a private house.
Producer One who controls the players and the stage and is responsible for the interpretation of the play as a whole.
A printed list of the characters in a play and the names of the players, with other information about the performance.
Prompt To repeat to an actor who hesitates or forgets the words that come next in his part.
Prompt-desk Small desk at prompt side of stage for the use of the stage-manager or prompter.
Prompt-bell A bell used by the prompter in the theatre to summon an actor.
Prompt-box The prompter's box on the stage.
Prompt-copy The special copy of the play from which the prompter prompts the actors. It contains all stage directions, calls, etc.
Prompter One who has charge of the book of the play and follows the actors when speaking their words.
Prompt-side or P.S.
The actor's left-hand side of the stage when facing the auditorium; usually the working side of the stage for stage-manager and prompter.
Properties Articles and materials used on the stage for furnishing a scene as distinct from the canvas and wooden scenery.
Property-man or Master The member of the stage staff in charge of properties.
Property Plot A list of all the properties, etc., used in each scene of a play, with plans of the arrangement of the furniture.
Props An abbreviation for stage properties.
Proscenium The arch. or framework around the stage facing the auditorium.
Proscenium Lights Lights fixed to a vertical pipe placed behind the tormentor. Also known as "Ladder Lights."
Puppet A marionette. Hence, "Puppet-play," a play for marionettes.
Puppeteer One who manipulates the puppets or marionettes in a marionette theatre.
Quick Change (a) To change rapidly from one scene to another.
(b) When an actor has to change his costume quickly.
Quick Change Room A small dressing room in the wings for the use of a performer who has to make a quick change of costume.
Rake The rise on a stage from the foot lights to the back wall. Stages are now built level.
Realism A method of writing, acting or producing a play to resemble real life.
The preparation of the actors for a play by the practice of their parts together. A "Lighting Rehearsal" is a practice of the lighting for a play. A "Scene Rehearsal" is the practice of the setting of the scenes for a play.
Repertoire (a) The stock of plays that a company can perform.
(b) The parts that a player knows and can perform.
See Repertoire. A "Repertory Theatre" is a theatre with a stock company of players and a stock of plays that it performs at intervals.
Répétion Générale A private performance preceding the public performance of a play.
Representation The performance of a play on the stage.
Return A piece of scenery used for masking the back stage or the actors from the view of the audience.
Reveal Imitation thickness painted on scenery to represent the solid.
Revolving stage
A circular stage constructed to revolve and to take two or more settings simultaneously, which are exhibited to the audience in turn.
A play consisting of a number of short scenes which may or may not be related, with music and dancing: specifically when such a composition contains scenes which "review" cur rent events.
Right The actor's right-hand side of the stage when facing the audience.
To signal for the raising of the front curtains at the beginning of an act or scene of a play. Also "Ring-down," to signal for the lowering of the curtains at the end.
Role A part taken by an actor in a play.
Romance A play dealing with love in an imaginative manner.
A platform of wood for use as a landing place at the end of stairs, for terraces, stairs, etc. It may consist of a folding framework and a movable top as a stockpiece, and be of various heights.
Rounds The applause by the audience.
Run The consecutive performances of a play.
A wooden framework running on pullies with bobbins attached to allow tableau or other curtains to be opened and closed, or raised and lowered from the grid.
Safety A fire-proof curtain that can be lowered in front of the tabs.
Scene (a) One of the divisions of a play.
(b) The place represented on the stage in which the action of the play is supposed to occur.
Scene-dock A storage place for scenery.
Scene-plot A list of the scenery used and the order of its use.
Scenery (a) Wooden frames covered with canvas and painted. See Flats.
(b) Any construction of wood and canvas or other materials arranged to represent a scene.
Schwabe Lighting
A system of stage lighting by means of special projectors and high powered lamps, manufactured by German firm.
Script The printed book or manuscript of a play or part in a play.
Set (a) The complete parts of a scene.
(b) To set a scene is to place the scenery on the stage as required for a play.
Set-back A framing for doors and windows to give the appearance of thickness to a scene.
Set-piece Any piece of scenery that stands on the stage and is not flown.
Side A page of actor's script. An actor's part with cues is usually written or typed on half sheets of paper; a part is sometimes said to consist of "so many sides."
Side Wings Flats stood at an angle at the sides of the stage for a scene.
Signal Bells or lights or other means of warning the orchestra or stage staff in flies, etc.
The position of the players on the stage at any given moment in the action. Said specifically of the climax of an act or scene.
Sketch A short play with few characters dealing with a single incident, lasting from 5 to 20 minutes.
Sky Cloth A back curtain painted to represent sky in the distance.
Sliding Stage
A stage floor constructed in two or three sections and mounted on rollers so that scenes can be set and rolled into position.
Soliloquy A speech spoken without the presence of hearers upon the stage.
Space Stage
A recent method of staging plays in which lighting is concentrated upon the actors so that they are seen as it were in space without an objective setting.
Specialist Lead An actor who specialises in leading parts of a certain type.
Spot-light A metal box with a high powered light, lens and reflector, used to direct light upon particular parts of the stage.
Spot Line A block fixed in any position on the grid to enable scenery to be flown out of alignment.
Stage The entire area behind the proscenium on part of which the acting is done.
Stage Brace See Brace.
Stage Carpenter (a) The member of the staff in charge of scenery.
(b) See Play Doctor.
Stage Cloth A floor covering for the stage.
Stage craft (a) The practical work of stage production.
(b) The skill shown by a playwright in the construction of a play.
Stage Direction A direction inserted in a play to indicate the appropriate action, etc.
Stage Director See Producer.
Stage Door The entrance to that part of a theatre used by the players as distinguished from the public entrance.
Stage-fright Nervousness experienced by an actor when appearing before an audience, especially on his first appearance.
Stage Manager
One whose office it is to superintend the production and performance of a play and to regulate the arrangements of the stage.
Stage Screw A large screw with a grip in it for fixing braces to the floor.
Star An actor playing a leading part whose name is displayed as the leading actor in connection with a production.
Stock Company A company of players attached to a theatre with a stock of plays, or able to perform any play as required.
Straight Part A part played without character make-up. Hence, "Straight Play," "Straight Actor."
Strike To remove a scene and properties when finished with at a rehearsal or performance.
Strip light A row of lights used in any position to light a part of the stage or scenery.
Sub-plot A second or subsidiary plot to the main plot of a play.
Super A supernumerary actor; one who takes a small part in a play without being required to speak except in a crowd.
Tabs The front or tableaux curtains.
Take Call To take a call is to be called on the stage before the audience at the dose of a play or act.
Take the Corner A direction to move to the right or left corner of the stage.
Tempo The time or pace at which a play or part is taken.
Theatre A building designed for the performance of plays.
Theatrical (a) Belonging to the theatre.
(b) In a derogatory sense of any thing or anybody considered artificial, affected, assumed, or extravagant.
Throw Line Sash cord or rope used for lashing flats together.
Time Sheet
The stage manager's schedule of the time taken to play each act, the length of the intervals, and the total time taken in performance of a play.
A return on each side of the proscenium for the purpose of masking the actors from view of the audience after their exits.
Tragedian An actor who plays leading parts in tragedy.
Tragedienne A woman actor who plays leading parts in tragedy.
Tragedy A play with a fatal or disastrous conclusion.
Traps Holes cut in the stage floor sufficiently large to allow an article or person to be lowered to the mezzanine floor.
Try Back A direction at rehearsal to repeat a scene or part of a scene.
Try-out A test performance of a play in the provinces prior to its appearance in a metropolitan theatre.
To fly scenery by pulling up top and bottom together thus folding it in two; employed where height for flying is restricted.
A part of a defined character. A play cast to type is a play in which the parts are given to actors who specialise in certain characters; a part cast to type is a part given to an actor who by art or nature is considered to be like the character to be represented.
An actor employed to rehearse and study a part and to be present at a performance in readiness to take the place of an actor unable through illness or other causes to perform his part.
Up Stage Toward the back of the stage.
Walking-on To take a part without dialogue.
Wardrobe A stock or collection of costumes.
Warning A signal for the tabs or stage "effect,", followed by the cue "Go."
(a) The sides of the stage outside the acting area.
(b) Flats used as scenery set at an angle on each side of the stage with space between for the entrance of the players.
Working Area The part of the stage at the sides used by the stage hands.
Working Light An independent light on the stage used for working by.



A Selected Bibliography


On the Art of the Theatre. Edward Gordon Craig. London: Heinemann, 1911.

The Exemplary Theatre. Harley Granville-Barker. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1922.

Prefaces to Shakespeare. Harley Granville-Barker. First Series: Love's Labour's Lost; Julius Caesar; King Lear; London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1927. Second Series.

Modern Stage Production. Frank Vernon. London: The Stage 1923.

Theatre Practice. Stark Young. 1926.

A Book for Shakespeare's Plays and Pageants; a treasury of Elizabethan and Shakespearean detail for producers, stage-managers, actors, artists and students. Orie L. Hatcher. London: Dent, 1916.

Shakespeare for Community Players. Roy Mitchell. London: Dent, 1919.

The "Little Plays" handbook: Practical Notes for production of "Little Plays of St. Francis." Laurence Housman. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1927.

The School Theatre: a handbook of theory and practice. Roy Mitchell. New York: Brentano, 1925.

Production. Greenleaf Theatre Elements III. Constance Smedley. London: Duckworth, 1926.

Choice of Plays

The Players' Guide. Mary Dalston. London: British Drama League, 1925.

Plays for Amateurs: A Selected List. S. Marian Tucker. New York: H. W. Wilson Company.

One Thousand and One Plays for the Little Theatre. Frank Shay. London and New York: Appleton, 1923.

A Guide to Longer Plays. Frank Shay. London and New York: Appleton, 1925.

The Guide to Selecting Plays. Wentworth Hogg. London and New York: Samuel French, 1928.

List of Plays Recommended for Village Acting. London: Village Drama Society, 1928.

A List of Plays for Young Players and Others. Compiled by the Junior Plays Committee of the Village Drama Society. London: Nelson, 1929.

Acting, Speech and Gesture

A Dictionary of Modem English Usage. H. W. Fowler. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1926.

The Speaking of English Verse. Elsie Fogerty. London: Dent, 1923.

Voice Training in Speech and Song. Henry Harper Hulbert. London: University Tutorial Press, 1925.

Broadcast English: Recommendations to Announcers regarding certain words of doubtful pronunciation. London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1928.

Mime. Mark Perugini. Dancing Times, 1925.

First Studies in Dramatic Art. Enid Rose. London: University Tutorial Press, 1926.

Action, Greenleaf Theatre Elements I. Speech, Greenleaf Theatre Elements II. Constance Smedley. London: Duckworth, 1925.

Scenery, Lighting, Etc.

Towards a New Theatre. Edward Gordon Craig. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., London: Oxford University Press, 1913.

Scenes and Machines on the English Stage. Lily B. Campbell. Cambridge University Press, 1923.

Drawings for the Theatre. Robert Edinond Jones. Theatre Arts, Inc., 1925.

Continental Stagecraft. Kenneth Macgowan and Jones. London: Benn; New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1923.

Design in the Theatre. London: The Studio, 1927.

The Continental Method of Scene Painting. Vladimir Polunin. Ed. by Cyril W. Beaumont.
London: C. W. Beaumont, 1927.

Equipment for Stage Production. Arthur Edwin Krows. New York: Appleton, 1928.

Scenes for Scene Painters. A. Rose. Routledge, 1925.

The Scenewright. A. Smith. London: Macmillan, 1926.

Stage Decoration: Sheldon Cheney. New York: J. Day, 1928.

Colour Music, the Art of Light. Adrian B. Klein.

Stage Lighting. C. Harold Ridge. Cambridge: Heifer, 1928.

Stage Lighting. Theodore Fuchs. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1928.

The Stage

Modern Theatres. Irving Pichel. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925.

The Development of the Theatre: A Study of Theatrical Art from the Beginnings to the Present Day.
Allardyce Nicoll. London and New York: Harrap, 1927.

The Theatre of To-morrow. Kenneth Macgowan. Boni & Liveright, 1923.

The Art Theatre. Sheldon Cheney. New York: Knopf.

The Bankside Stage Book. H, W. Whanslaw. London: Gardner, Darton, 1924.


A Cydopædia of Costume and Dictionary of Dress. J. R. Planché. London: Chatto &
Windus, 1876-79.

Costumes and Fashion. Vol. 1. Evolution of European dress through the earlier ages (up to 1066). Vol. II. Senlac to Bosworth. 1066-1485. Herbert Norris. London: Dent, 1924—27.

Historic Costumes. 1490-1790. F. M. Kelly and R. Schwabe. Batsford, 1925.

Modes and Manners of the Nineteenth Century, Translated from the German of Oscar Fischel and
Max von Bocher. 4 vols.
London: Dent, 1927.

Ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Persian Costumes and Decorations. Mary G. Houston and F. S. Homblower. Black, 1920.

Dress Design; an account of English costumes for artists and dressmakers (earliest times - late 19th century). Talbot Hughes. London: Pitman, 1926.

On English Costume. Mary Kelly. London: Village Drama Society, 1925.

The Costumes of Eastern Europe. Max Tilke. London: Benn, 1926.

A Study of Costume from the Egyptians to Modern Times. E. Sage. London and New York: Scribner's, 1926.

The Bankside Costume Book (Elizabethan period). Melicant Stone. London: Gardner, Darton, 1913.

Clothes: On and Off the Stage. Helena Chalmers. London and New York: Appleton, 1928.

Stage Costuming. Agnes Brooks Young. New York: Macmillan Company, 1927.


The Art of Theatrical Make-up. Cavendish Morton. London: Black, 1909.

The Art of Make-up. Helena Chalmers. London and New York: Appleton, 1925.

How to Make-up. S. J. Adair Fitzgerald. London: Samuel French, 1920.


Problems of the Actor. Louis Calvert. London: Simpkin, 1919.

The New Spirit in the European Theatre, 1914-1924. Huntly Carter. London: Benn, 1925.

Drama. Ashley Dukes. London: Thornton Butterworth, 1926.

The Organized Theatre. St. John Ervine. London: Allen & Unwin, 1924.

My Life in Art. Constantin Stanislavsky. London: Bles, 1925.

History of Theatrical Art in Ancient and Modern Times. Karl Mantzius. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1903-09.

The Mediaeval Stage. E. K. Chambers. London: Oxford University Press, 1903.

The Elizabethan Stage. E. K. Chambers. London: Oxford University Press, 1923.

A History of Everyday Things in England 1066-1799. C. H. B. and Marjorie Quennell. London: Batsford, 1923.


The Amateur Dramatic Year-Book and Community Theatre Handbook. Edited by G. W. Bishop.
London: Black, Annually in October.

The Theatre Arts Monthly. New York.

The Mask. Quarterly. Florence.

Drama. Monthly. London.




When the Heart is Young

by W. Millington Limb

(click image to enlarge)


The Welwyn Theatre Repertory Company (1928)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


When the Heart is Young

by W. Millington Limb

(click image to enlarge)


The Welwyn Theatre Repertory Company (1928)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


The Marvellous History of St. Bernard

by Henri Gheon

(click image to enlarge)


The Leeds Civic Playhouse

Produced by Chas. F. Smith


Back to Methuselah

by Bernard Shaw

(click image to enlarge)


Sheffield Playgoers' Society (1924)

Produced by Dr. R. T. Martin


Richard II

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Terence Gray

I have been contacted by PAUL CORNWELL who has pointed out that the image in the book is from a performance of Richard III, not Richard II, as captioned in the book. Mr Cornwell has written a biography of Terence Gray entitled Only by Failure: The Many Faces of the Impossible Life of Terence Gray published in 2004 by Salt. ("Only by failure can the creative artist succeed.")


Madam Pepita

by Martinez Sierra

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Norman Marshall


The Lady of Belmont

by St. John Ervine

(click image to enlarge)


St. Pancras People's Theatre

Produced by Maude Scott


The Saints' Comedy

by F. Sladen-Smith

(click image to enlarge)


The Unnamed Society (Manchester)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


The Birds

by Aristophanes

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Terence Gray


The Passion Flower

by Jacinto Benavente

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Cyril Wood


The Taming of the Shrew

(click image to enlarge)


The Maddamarket Theatre, Norwich

Produced by Nugent Monck


Lonesome Like

by Harold Chapin

(click image to enlarge)


The Stockport Garrick Society


The Glen is Mine

(click image to enlarge)


The Stockport Garrick Society


The Shewing-Up of Blanco Posnet

by Bernard Shaw

(click image to enlarge)


The Letchworth Players (1910)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


Much Ado About Nothing. Act III, Sc. 4.

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The Letchworth Players (1910)

Produced by C. B. Purdom



by Laurence Housmann and Granville-Barker

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The Oxted and Limpsfield Players

Produced by Muriel E. Whitmore


The Crown of St. Felice

by F. Sladen-Smith

(click image to enlarge)


The Oxted and Limpsfield Players

Produced by Muriel E. Whitmore


Cæsar and Cleopatra

by Bernard Shaw

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge festival Theatre

Produced by T. G. Saville


The King's Jewry

by Halcott Glover

(click image to enlarge)


The Huddersfield Thespians (1928)

Produced by F. A. Bean


The Tragedy of Man

by John Masefield

(click image to enlarge)


The Huddersfield Thespians (1927)

Produced by A. Lunn


The Devil a Saint

By J. R. Gregton

(click image to enlarge)


The Leeds Civic Playhouse

Produced by C. B. Purdom


Sowing and Reaping

A translation from the German by Graham and Tristram Rawson

(click image to enlarge)


The Leeds Civic Playhouse

Produced by Chas. F. Smith


The Coffin

by John Taylor

(click image to enlarge)


The Welwyn Theatre Repertory Company (1928)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


The Carthaginian

by Frank Taylor

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Terence Gray


The Carthaginian

by Frank Taylor

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Terence Gray


The Carthaginian

by Frank Taylor

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by Terence Gray


Adam the Creator

by Karl and Joseph Capek

(click image to enlarge)


The Cambridge Festival Theatre

Produced by T. G. Saville


Don Juan in Hell

by Bernard Shaw

(click image to enlarge)


The Welwyn Garden City Theatre Society (1924)

Produced by C. B. Purdom



by T. W. Robertson

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The Welwyn Garden City Theatre Society (1924)

Produced by C. B. Purdom


Nativity Play

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Citizen House, Bath




The Welwyn Theatre: interior

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The switchboard installed at the Welwyn Theatre (1928)

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Types of metallic dimmers.

Section of a float, or footlights, showing lamps with
reflectors and gelatine colour mediums.

(click image to enlarge)


A focussing lantern
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A spotting arc lamp
(Used from the "front of the house")
(click image to enlarge


A lighting batten with spot-lights and flood-lanterns
(These can be adjusted to any angle to light any portion of the stage as required)
(click image to enlarge)


Doorway on apron stage

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A wind machine

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Section of stage

(click image to enlarge)