Decoding Theatre Jargon: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Analytical Commentary

On May 16, 2024 , updated on May 16, 2024 - 4 minutes to read


The world of theater is a fascinating sphere where the art of the stage is translated into a panoply of expressions and technical terms. Exploring this universe requires mastering its specific language, which undoubtedly enriches the analyzes and critiques carried out by experts and amateurs alike. This article aims to lift the veil on these often esoteric notions, clarify theatrical vocabulary and thus allow everyone to perfect their comments on the dramatic works.

The structure of a play

Acts and scenes

A theatrical work often reveals itself to be complex from the first glance at its structure. We traditionally speak ofactions, which divide the piece into main segments, which are themselves subdivided into scenes. Acts represent a significant change in action or plot, while scenes indicate a change of location or the entry and exit of characters.

Exposition, knot and denouement

At the beginning of a piece, theexposure introduces the main characters, their relationships, the context and the issues. THE node then refers to the moment when tensions and conflicts build to reach a dramatic climax. Finally, the outcome brings a resolution to these conflicts, revealing the fate of the characters.

Character analysis

Protagonist and antagonist

THE protagonist is the central character around whom the plot is built. Often, but not always, this is the “hero” or “heroine” of the story. L’antagonist, on the other hand, is the one who opposes the protagonist, thus creating a conflict essential to the plot of the play.

Secondary characters and extras

Although of less central status, the secondary characters strongly influence the dynamics of the story and contribute to the complexity of the plot. THE extras are used to create an illusion of reality and enrich scenes without necessarily participating directly in the main action.

Directing techniques

Staging Techniques


The stage directions are staging instructions written by the author of the play to advise on interpretation. They can suggest the tone of a line, character movements or emotions to express.

Acting and management

THE actor play refers to the art of interpretation. By this term we consider the methods by which actors embody their characters through dialogue but also through the body and emotions. There management designates all the technical and administrative tasks necessary for the smooth running of a performance.

The text and its musicality

Alexandrians, prose and pantomime

Theatrical works can be written in Alexandrians, a poetic form characteristic of classical tragedy, or in prose for a more modern and spontaneous style. There pantomime, for its part, relies on bodily expressiveness to tell a story without words, revealing the power of gestures and facial expression.

Rejoinders and tirades

A replica is a short verbal exchange between characters, often serving to move the action forward. A tirade, however, is a long speech given by a character without interruption, which reveals their inner thoughts or worldview.

The technical world

Scenography and props

There scenography designates the creation of the stage space through sets, lights, costumes and sounds, essential elements to create the atmosphere desired by the director. THE accessories, objects used by the actors, are carefully chosen for their stage relevance and their ability to reinforce the authenticity of the show.

Sounds and lights

Sound effects and lighting design contribute significantly to the ambiance of a room. Shades of light reveal and hide, while music and sound effects can emphasize emotions or indicate a change of scene.

Reviews and analyzes

Criticisms and Analysis

Interpretation of works

The analysis of a theatrical play cannot be dissociated from its interpretation which, itself, implies an understanding of the subtleties of the text and its staging. Interpret consists of deciphering the artistic choices made and evaluating their coherence, originality and impact on the viewer.

Understand to judge better

When tackling theater criticism, knowledge of vocabulary is a cornerstone. This allows you to understand the various aspects of the work to better judge its effectiveness, and to communicate your impressions with precision and fluidity.

Enrich your lexicon for deeper analyzes

Deepening your theatrical vocabulary is not limited to learning the terms, it is also about perceiving the riches they reveal. A comprehensive analysis includes the interaction between scenic and textual elements, the way in which the actors take possession of the space and create credible characters, as well as the various possible interpretations of the same work.

Diving into the heart of the language of theater means giving yourself the means to penetrate the magic of this age-old art and to share comments with a brightness equivalent to the spotlights illuminating the stage. The aim is an informed appreciation which will captivate minds and provoke in all, whether novices or scholars, an admiration for the complexity and beauty of theatre.


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