Department of Music and Theatre

Theatre Handbook

Welcome to the CSU Chico Department of Music and Theatre. This handbook will provide you with an overview of the department, its various subject areas, and common procedures and policies that will impact your time at CSU Chico. Updated yearly, the handbook reflects any changes in ourfaculty, degree programs, and performance opportunities.

Contact Information
Performing Arts Center (PAC), Room 106

Mission Statement and Philosophy

The central mission of the Department of Theatre Arts at California State University, Chico is to provide students with a balanced undergraduate education in the practice, theory, and history of theatre; to that end the department is committed to excellence in instruction and artistic example in all arenas of contact with students. In short, it is our mission to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students and audiences that time and resources allow.

The focus of our mission is aimed at three sets of goals: Liberal Arts Education, Pre-Professional Training, and Cultural Outreach.

Liberal Arts Education

Teaching is the central task of the department. The faculty believes that study and practical involvement in theatre promotes and achieves the goals of a well-rounded liberal education, foremost among which are the abilities to reason clearly, imagine creatively, and express oneself effectively. The department seeks to cultivate in all students who pass through its doors a measure of the artistic, intellectual, and interpersonal skills that can broaden their horizons, sharpen their perceptions, and add grace to their interactions.

Specifically, within the majors, the department recognizes that each student is unique and in possession of individual gifts and aspirations. Not every student desires or is suited to a professional career in the performing arts or entertainment industry. Many students are drawn to the life of the theatre for personal reasons that they cannot easily articulate, but which are, nevertheless, imperative to them. Thus, the department is committed to help all majors and minors gain a clear perspective of their life and career goals and to focus their energies and time at Chico State toward the most personally productive and fulfilling use of a theatre education.

Pre–Professional Training

In addition to offering a strong liberal arts education to all students, the department focuses on those especially motivated students who demonstrate a genuine desire for a professional career in the performing arts or entertainment industry. We maintain a series of advanced performance and design/technical courses necessary to prepare candidates for entry level professional work or graduate school/conservatory training as well as a tradition of intensive, individualized mentorship.

Cultural Outreach

We sit at the hub of a remarkably vibrant local theatre community, which boasts a half dozen community and semi–professional theatre companies, active junior college and high school programs and many first–rate professional productions which come to campus as part of regional, national, and world tours.

As part of the School of the Arts within the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (along with music and art and art history) we present much of the cultural face of the university to the northern Sacramento Valley and help to support the artistic life of our community through faculty and staff outreach to K–12 programs and local theatres. Many of our students, when their time allows, actively participate in these outreach initiatives and in productions off campus.

In addition to outreach, we welcome the community onto campus for an exciting and varied season of eight annual productions, which include two major musicals, a fall dance concert, an evening of student directed one–acts, and a selection of comedies and dramas that cover the spectrum of historical periods, genres, and production styles.

Auditions, Portfolios and Interviews

General Auditions

Twice yearly general auditions serve two functions for the department: 1) to cast most of the mainstage productions of the season and 2) to provide a yearly opportunity (during the January call) for the faculty to assess and comment on the growth and development of performance and audition skills of theatre arts and musical theatre.

At the January juried auditions, three members of the faculty respond on paper to the audition of each theatre arts and musical theatre major. Each response includes a set of numerical ratings as well as written comments. These responses are simply a snapshot of impressions of your craft skills and overall accomplishment as an actor as demonstrated during the three minutes of your audition. These responses are by no means a definitive assessment of your talent and abilities; the faculty adjudicators observe, rate, and comment on your auditions as if they were seeing you for the first time. The standards by which your auditions are evaluated are high, essentially, we look for the same qualities that are expected of young actors who are ready for graduate school or entry–level professional work. In other words, an average rating in the 4 to 5 range (with 5 being the highest possible score) indicates a level of accomplishment that would probably result in a call back at a grad school or summer stock level; an average rating below 4 probably would not. Don't look at these as grades, but as information to help you continue to work toward your goals. We encourage you to make appointments with the adjudicators for additional feedback.

For each of the fall and spring auditions, please prepare one of the following standard, memorized audition packages:

  1. two contrasting monologues, or
  2. one monologue and one contrasting song, or
  3. two contrasting monologues plus your best sixteen bars of a song

The maximum time for any of these options is 2 minutes. You will be timed and stopped if you exceed the two–minute time limit.

An accompaniment is provided. If you plan to sing, bring sheet music in your key, clearly marked. No taped accompaniment and no a capella, please.

Sign up sheets for specific audition appointments are posted in the Greenroom in the PAC approximately five days prior to auditions, which normally begin the Sunday prior to the first day of the semester's classes.

A typical audition week schedule:


Fall 2017 Production Auditions:


Sign-up sheets will be posted on the Department Notice Board by Performing Arts Center Room 106 the week before classes begin.

  • Sunday, August 20  - 6:00-10:00pm: Auditions for Musical Theatre and Theatre Majors 
  • Monday, August 21  - 6:00- 7:30pm: Auditions for Musical Theatre and Theatre Minors
  • Monday, August 21  - 7:30-10:00pm: Auditions for Non Major and community members

Callbacks - (Specifics for each show will be posted when callback lists are posted)

  • Monday, August 21:        7:30pm - 10:00pm 
  • Tuesday, August 22:       6:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Wednesday, August 23:  6:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Thursday, August 24:      6:00pm - 10:00pm

Accompaniment is provided. Bring sheet music in your key, clearly marked.

Contact Matty Miller for more information (PAC 205/ / 530-898-5493).

Audition Information

For the dance auditions:

  • Remember to:
  1. wear clothes you can move in (layers are good)
  2. bring dance sneakers or jazz shoes and tap shoes (if you own some)
  3. leave the jewelry at home
  4. wear hair up and out of your face
  • Warm-up for all dance auditioners will begin at 7pm on the Harlen Adams stage.
  • Auditioners will learn 3 phrases in 3 styles(tap, modern/character, and jazz) taught by 3 different choreographers in rotating spaces from 7:30-9:00pm.
  • From 9:00-10:00pm, auditioners will perform the 3 phrases for the faculty in PAC 134 in groups of 4. Each group will perform all 3 styles, then be excused.

Other Audition Information:

The gathering place to receive instructions from the stage managers is in the Green Room. Please show up well in advance of your group's call time so you can complete the audition paperwork. Callbacks for these shows are posted in the mornings for that evening. Cast lists are posted by the end of the first week of school. 

Make sure you read the casting policy before you audition.

Please remember, if you want to be considered for the musical, you need to participate in the Dance Auditions and include a short song in your acting audition.

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The Portfolio Review Information (PDF)

Students interested in designing, assistant designing, stage managing, or other upper division practicum MUST submit a portfolio for consideration in the spring.

ALL students must fill out and turn in a hard copy of the Portfolio Submission Form (PDF) to the Music and Theatre office, PAC 106, to be included in the portfolio reviews.

Criteria and Format

  • Freshman & Sophomores – Portfolio Submission
    • Submit to the theatre office the following materials.
      • Introduction Letter & Resume
      • Traditional Paper or Digital portfolio (.PDF format only for digital submissions!!)
        • This should include classroom and practical work. Students should consider a Power Point or Keynote presentation format. Both of which can easily be converted into PDF.
        • ** All digital portfolios must be a self contained, SINGLE DOCUMENT burned to a CD, DVD, or placed on clean flash drive properly labeled for submission.
      • Faculty will have (2) weeks to review these materials. Comments sheets will be available in the office at the end of this period.
  • Juniors & Seniors – Interview & Portfolio Presentation
    • In-­‐person interview and portfolio presentation
      • Students will be able to set up in the space beginning at 1pm.
      • Each student have available to them a 3’x6’ table with a back board for pinning up materials.
      • Students will provide (10) copies of their resume and introduction letter at their station.
      • If students have developed a web site or other digital presentation, they are encouraged to bring their laptops and have it available for reviewers. Power will be provided.
      • The students will attend these stations for a (3) hour period during which the faculty may review their materials, give comment, and ask questions. This time period will also be open to other students to view their work.
      • Faculty will fill out a critique sheet which will be given back to the student after the event.

Portfolio Materials Information

  • The Introduction Letter should describe your current involvement in the department and state what you would like to do in the future.
  • All Resumes will contain the following information and be contained on one page:
    • Name
    • Current contact information
    • List of all production experiences (CSU & outside venues).
      • Please list all production experience in reverse chronological order.
    • Other applicable skills
      • Software proficiencies, workshops, CPR certifications, equipment proficiencies, etc.
    • Awards / Scholarships / Achievements
    • Related Organizational and volunteer affiliations
    • Three references
    • *** The resume format may differ from one student to another, but all must be clear, organized, and include the information above.
  • Portfolios should include all relevant classroom and practical production work. Everything needs to be cleanly presented and labeled clearly. This presentation is as much about you as the materials, so the protfolio should reflect your attitude and interests/ Your portfolio may be in one of the following formats:
    • Traditional hardcopy portfolio
      • Designers should include pictures of classroom and realized projects as well as cleanly formatted preliminary sketches and research.
      • State Managers may prepare a sample production book for their portfolio.
      • Dramaturges should present writing and research samples.
    • Web Based Portfolio; (Must be compatible to both Mac & PC)
    • PDF Portfolio (COnvert all PowerPoint, Keynote, or similar presentations into this form).
  • The goal of the yearly submissions is to give students feedback on their materials, identify strengths and weaknesses, and allow the faculty to place them in future production positions.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Daniel Schindler:, PAC 248, (530) 898-4053

Policy On Casting, Designing and Crew Assignments

The department is committed to providing the best educational experience possible for students involved in the production program. To this end, we give first consideration for roles and design and crew assignments to theatre majors followed by other students who audition or present a portfolio. On occasion, we will cast guest artists, faculty members and/or community members to provide additional educational experiences to our students. The department believes that the practice of color-blind, gender-blind, and/or age-blind casting is appropriate in certain circumstances, and such casting will occur when suitable to the production. Students who audition or show a portfolio may express a preference as to which roles or design/crew assignments they wish to be considered. 

To avoid obvious scheduling conflicts, students must bring complete semester calendars of their commitments to auditions or interviews. Once cast in a role or given a design/crew assignment, a student has the option of accepting or rejecting the role or assignment. This is accomplished by notifying the director and/or supervisor before rehearsals or assignments begin. Initialing a cast list and/or attending a rehearsal or production meeting also indicate that a student has accepted a role or assignment. Any student who accepts a role or assignment and later wishes to be released from a production must present serious and compelling reasons to the director and/or supervisor and the Chair of the department to avoid sanctions. Students leaving a show without the permission of both the director/supervisor and Chair will be barred from participating in any departmental production during the semester in which the violation occurs and the following semester.

To be eligible for participation in department productions in any capacity, students must maintain a Grade Point Average of 2.0 or higher during any semester in which they participate. If a student is placed on academic probation by the university (which happens whenever the CSU, Chico G.P.A. or the cumulative G.P.A. drops below 2.0) or if the student fails to achieve at least a 2.0 G.P.A. in the preceding semester, the student will be required to drop any role or design/crew assignment that he or she may be presently engaged in and will be ineligible for any subsequent casting or assignment until he or she regains clear academic standing. 

Students on academic probation or whose previous semester’s G.P.A. has fallen below a 2.0 may continue to participate on a production run crew only if participation is a specific, curricular requirement of a course the student is enrolled in. Students who are on Work Study must maintain a G.P.A. of at least 2.0. Students whose semester G.P.A. falls below a 2.0 must resolve prior to the first day of classes of the following semester any issues concerning incompletes and change-of-grades that might raise their semester G.P.A. above a 2.0.

For Scholarship Audition/Portfolio information, please go here.

Auditions and Interviews remain the primary avenue of access to employment and educational opportunities in the performing arts. To aid our own production and program and to help our students acquire the poised, presentational skills necessary for job hunting in the profession, we have designed an annual system of auditions, portfolio review/interviews and evaluations.

Special Theatre Major Requirements

All musical theatre majors are required to audition at the beginning of each semester.

All theatre arts majors are required either to a) audition at the beginning of each semester, or b) present a portfolio of technical, design, or stage management experience every spring semester.

Any student with an interest in technical production, design, or stage management as well as performance may choose to participate in both portfolio reviews and auditions.

Any major may choose not to participate in a department production during any given semester, by notifying the faculty ahead of auditions or interviews, however, she or he must still participate in the audition or interview process.

Any theatre scholarship student, in addition to the basic audition/portfolio requirements, must participate as cast or crew in at least one department production each semester he or she receives an award from the Theatre Department.

Please refer to the Casting/Crewing policy for more information.

Regional Auditions, Interviews and Competitions

An important part of the mission of the Theatre program at Chico State is to provide special assistance to especially motivated and qualified students in attaining employment and advanced training opportunities in the profession. To that end, the department provides supplemental coaching in the preparation of auditions and interviews to a limited number of students who have achieved certain standards in their careers at Chico State. To be eligible for this coaching, you must have met the following standards:

For NEXT STEP, SRT or similar "summer stock" auditions/interviews

  • Junior status
    • Cumulative GPA of 2.5/university and 3.0/major
    • Clear evidence of a significant level of knowledge and skill in area of emphasis as demonstrated in a qualifying audition or portfolio interview.
      1. How many coaching sessions are allowed?

        It would seem that five would be more than sufficient, especially if the student is completing the tasks necessary for each level of preparation.

      2. Who is responsible for the basic blocking of the scene?

        Preparatory work for the scene, including scoring, analysis, skeletal blocking, and ideas about picturization should be the work of the student.

      3. So, I only have to do my five coaching sessions?

        Not true. The "coach" is just that — they are not the director. You do the work outside of coaching sessions.

        Remember, you were nominated for your work in a show where you exhibited exemplary ability. You should continue exemplary work in preparation for this competition.

      4. Who is responsible for the selection of materials?

        That is the sole responsibility of the nominee, not the coach. The coach should and will respond to the selections that you bring with you in initial discussions, which should happen prior to the first coaching session. Once again, you were nominated because your work was exceptional. Begin the process by being exceptional. You should have several choices to discuss with the coach. And, very importantly, you should have a couple partner choices. The selection of your partner is almost the most critical thing you will do. You may select material that is beyond your partner's abilities, and even though they are your best friend and you want to room with them at the festival, they may be the biggest stumbling block you have. You may also choose material that showcases your partner much more than you - also a very bad choice. And please, don't choose your significant other for a partner. The reasons are many.

      5. Who is responsible for securing the rights of my scene selections?

        You are. And if they are not in place by the festival, you don't perform.

      6. What happens when I miss one of the requirements discussed in the "time-line"?

        Coaching ends and you don't get forwarded to the festival.

      7. But what if...?

        Coaching ends and you don't get forwarded to the festival.

  • Senior status with completion of degree before the coming fall semester
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.0/university and 3.0/major
    • A record of exceptional contributions to productions in the department season that demonstrate clear promise of an ability to succeed in the profession
    • Clear evidence of an advanced level of knowledge and skill in area of emphasis as demonstrated in a qualifying audition or portfolio interview.
  • Sophomore status
    • Cumulative GPA of 2.0/university and 2.5/major
    • GPA of 2.0 in fall semester previous to festival
    • Carrying no more than one Incomplete
    • Completion of at least 80 percent of Theatre Arts or Musical Theatre lower division core courses
    • Scenes and songs must be selected and cut appropriately
    • Scene partner must be chosen and "on-board"
    • Scenes and songs should have approval of the coach
    • Scenes should be coached a minimum of three times (implying before break)
    • "Coaching" is a session of at least 40 – 45 minutes
    • After the first coaching session, the student must be off-book.

For URTA and similar "graduate school/advanced training program" auditions/interviews

Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival

In addition to the preceding auditions, the department also participates yearly in the American College Theatre Festival by sponsoring students in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, design presentations, and other activities. Any student may attend the festival and workshops as a spectator. Other students are invited to participate in the competitive events of the festival by outside adjudicators who view our department productions. In addition to the selection criteria used by the ACTF adjudicators, the Theatre Department requires participants to meet the following standards:

  • 3 months prior to the festival

    • NOTE: The only exception to the previous requirement would be shows that are in production in the late fall and may not have announced Ryan candidates. At a minimum, however, those students who are notified late of their nomination must have completed the requirements for the previous section before finals begin and should arrange at least two coaching sessions prior to returning for the spring semester.
  • 2 months prior to the festival

    • Qualifying Presentation

      • Scene should be performance–ready. If the qualifying presentation doesn't satisfy the coaching representatives, the scene is not forwarded to the festival.
    • Showcase Presentation

      • Scene should have been coached at least once since qualifying presentation for notes and feedback.

Audition Handbook

Juried Audition Rating Criteria

The following is a key to the criteria used for the numerical ratings on the response forms (each bulleted item is rated on a scale of 0 - 5):

Audition Skills

  • Selection of Material
    • Appropriateness to age, type, and level of abilities
    • Effectiveness for demonstrating actual extent of range by contrasts in genre, tone, character qualities, and /or style
  • Presentation
    • Appropriateness and effectiveness of wardrobe, hair and makeup
    • Entrance, introduction, transitions, thank-you, and exit

Performance Skills

  • Voice
    • Breath support, openness of channel (release of tension in vocal tract), fullness of tone/resonance, specificity and variety of melody, tempo/rhythm, quality, etc. in response to the text and given circumstances
  • Speech
    • Diction, phrasing, relative emphasis of operative words, tone color (use of individual speech sounds), use of figurative language and rhetorical structure, overall effectiveness of denotative and connotative expression. Sense of voice and speech that is organic to character supported by imaginative and analytical justification of vocal choices
  • Movement: Choices
    • Use of space, character center (part of body character meets the world with), tempo/rhythm, quality, specific gesture, creation of place through use of props/chair/space/focus
  • Movement: Support
    • Alignment, balance, grace, strength, release of tension inappropriate to character and given circumstances
    • Sense of movement that is organic to character supported by imaginative and analytical justification of movement choices
  • Acting: Objective Technique
    • Comprehensible storytelling in which the character clearly takes action toward a specific goal, encounters obstacles, responds with adjustments/shifts of action until he/she achieves some sort of resolution. In other words, the actor (in the guise of the character) takes a complete journey with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • Acting: Truth Within Circumstances
    • The actor accomplishes the journey of the character with a sense of genuinely living in the world-of-the-play, deeply and personally invested in the wants of the character, playing for high stakes, and creating a sense of spontaneous interaction with the imagined other character in the scene. In other words, acting that creates an "illusion of the first time"

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Portfolio Review/Interview Rating Criteria

Response Sheet Criteria

Students are judged in a variety of categories with attention given to whether are a first time presenter, at the intermediate level, or advanced students. The criteria used is similar to that used a CETA, URTA, ACTF, SETC and other unified auditions. Students then have a better idea of where they need to improve their skills. The faculty and staff use a 1-5 ranking system for responses, 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.


General Appearance

  • deportment
  • attitude
  • appropriate attire

Spoken Presentation

  • Introduction
  • Body of Presentation
  • Conclusion
  • Overall: materials, details, support, handling, organization


  • appearance
  • accuracy
  • proofreading
  • appropriateness

Visual Presentation not expected from all first time presenters

  • Quality and choice of materials (aesthetics/artistry/ability)
  • Neatness: paperwork, plots, drawings, organization
  • Graphics and layout: presentation format, titles, labels, etc.
  • Overall success of visual presentation

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Actor Toolkit

  • Objective
  • Given Circumstances
  • Tranits And Touching Points
  • Unspoken Truth
  • Invisible Envelope
  • Public Solitude
  • Listening With Objective
  • Tactics
  • Personalization/Endowments
  • As If
  • Physical Task/Ancillary Action
  • Physical Destination
  • Conscious/Subconscious
  • Upgrades
  • Justifications/Character Advocacy
  • Discoveries
  • Polar Attitudes/Polarities
  • Transitions/Shifts
  • Builds
  • Transferences
  • Expectations
  • Assumptions
  • Give/Take
  • Want To Do/Have To Do

"To be is to do" - Plato
"To do is to be" - Socrates
"First say to yourself what you would be; Then do what you have to do" - Epictetus
"As we are so we do" - Emerson
"Do Be Do Be Do"-- Sinatra

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A Few Thoughts on Auditioning

Life is unfair.
The theatre is less fair than life.
Acting is the least fair part of the theatre.
An actor will never be asked to do anything less fair in his or her life than audition.

And the worst part of it is that an actor is never NOT auditioning. If you truly want to be an actor, these are the given circumstances of your condition with which you must make peace.

It's good to keep a few things in mind:

  • Whenever you audition for a director, you are auditioning for every show he or she will direct for the rest of both your lives, not just the one coming up next. Whenever you are in a show, you are auditioning for the future projects of every director and producer who see it, as well as the director you're working with.
  • Directors will forget your name the minute you walk out the door, but if you behave unprofessionally before, during, or after the audition, they will remember your face forever.
  • If you are a delight in the audition, prove yourself talented and skilled, read beautifully and bring everyone in the room to tears and/or gales of laughter, you may still not get the part, but the director will remember your face, and maybe even your name, forever.
  • Directors have a lot on their minds during auditions and are trying to balance a host of issues having to do with the complex nature of a production; whether or not you would be good in a given part, even the best, is often not the most relevant consideration. For your own mental health, try not to take it personally.
  • An audition is essentially a business interview. Whether or not there is actual monetary pay involved is irrelevant. You must present and behave yourself professionally. Don't lie on your resume and be honest about what you are and are not willing to do. People are taking a lot of time and working very hard to make very difficult decisions for the good of a project that is larger than you.
  • The dynamics of a company ensemble begin to take shape immediately after the cast list goes up. The news of your attitude, good or bad, travels fast and has a lasting influence on the how you, as a colleague, are regarded in the future. If you are angry or miffed, save its expression for the privacy of your home.
  • You can't know what is in a director's mind. You can't know why you didn't get the part. If you truly want to be an actor, the only thing you can DO that is worth your time and energy is get ready for the next audition and do your very best again.



Professionalism is one of those things that everyone agrees is absolutely indispensable in the theatre; yet, we don't teach a specific class in it, nor does it appear as such in the topic calendar of many, if any, course syllabi.

Everyone knows it when they see it, though. It has nothing to do with whether or not one in an actual professional , as in one who is paid for a service. It has nothing to do with unions, contracts, paychecks, academic degrees, age or experience. It has everything to do with conduct.

Professionalism implies reliability and responsibility. It means good will and genuine effort to give one's best to any project one commits to. To behave professionally in the theatre is to care more about the overall good of the show than about one's own comfort, convenience or applause. Professionalism does not imply a refusal or inability to question or criticize; but, it does mean that one refrains from insult, innuendo, back-stabbing or any other negative behavior or talk that serves to trash any individual in a company and, therefore, undermine the hard work of all and, ultimately, the quality of the theatrical experience for the audience.

On some basic level it implies a conscience.

It is said that it is impossible to legislate morality. Certainly, it is futile to try to create a Theatre Department policy regulating professionalism.

We all know it when we see it, though. And we all know it when we don't.

The professionalism of this department, then, depends on the commitment of each individual in it -- faculty, staff and student -- to behave according to a personal code of conduct that helps to enhance the experience of everyone else here and to uphold the ideals that brought us all together in the first place.

Code of Conduct for Performers

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

California State University, Chico

August 2003

There are three basic agreements that guide our behavior as performers. These agreements are as old as art itself, and as important to understand as any other part of performance.

The agreement between performer and producer : The producer shall enthusiastically advertise and promote the work of the performer to investors, potential audience members, and the community as a whole. The producer will work diligently to provide the best resources possible for the performance. This promotion shall be based on the quality of past performances and the belief that the artist will present the very best performance possible every time. The trust of this agreement is worth preserving to assure proper investment in artistic work.

The agreement between performer and audience member : the audience member purchases a ticket for a performance sight unseen, sound unheard, quality unknown. The purchase is an act of faith that each performer will give his or her very best at every performance to ensure the audience member receives his/her money's worth. The audience member rewards good performances by giving praise to the artist, speaking well of the artist to others, and buying tickets for future productions. The trust of this agreement is worth preserving to assure that audiences continue to attend artistic events.

The agreement between performer and performer : artists share a performance together based in the belief that every performer will give the very best they can at every instant of every performance to support the other performers on the stage and to elevate the level of the performance above entertainment to art. The trust of this agreement is worth preserving because creating art is what all artists wish to achieve.

There are many ways to betray the trust these agreements represent, but one of the surest ways is to come to a performance unprepared. The lack of preparation can be as obvious as not learning the music or lines, or as egregious as appearing on stage in an inebriated or drugged state. It is impossible to perform at your peak if you are unprepared, unfocused or physically impaired. It should be a part of your artistic discipline, and a matter of your pride as a performing artist to honor these agreements. You will be held to these standards throughout your artistic career.

I understand that coming to a rehearsal or performance after drinking or taking drugs is a direct violation of the Student Conduct Code and the University Alcohol Policy of California Sate University, Chico . Violations will result in immediate expulsion from all performance ensembles in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts for a minimum of one semester, and may result in further sanctions by the department, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, or Office of Student Judicial Affairs.

Glossary of Theatre Terms


  • ACTF --- American College Theatre Festival
  • AFM --- American Federation of Musicians
  • ABOVE --- Away from the audience. Same as "upstage of".
  • AD LIB --- On the spot improvisations -- word or gesture -- that were not originally in the script or were added during rehearsals
  • AEA --- Actors Equity Association
  • AGMA --- American Guild of Musical Artists
  • AGVA --- American Guild of Variety Artists
  • APRON --- The space on the stage in front of the curtain line. Sometimes used interchangeably with "forestage".
  • ARENA STAGE --- A form of center staging in which the audience surrounds the stage on all sides. Theatre-in-the-Round
  • ASBESTOS --- The fireproof curtain that closes the proscenium opening and separates stage from the auditorium in case of fire.
  • ASIDE --- One of the conventions of the theatre in which the audience accepts the idea that the words spoken by an actor, with appropriate side gesture and tone, can be heard by the audience but not by the other actors onstage.
  • AUDITIONS --- Reading of specific roles before the director to determine casting. Often involves prepared material.


  • BACKDROP --- Large flat area, usually canvas, hanging at the rear of the stage, that can be painted to represent the desired locales.
  • BACKSTAGE --- The area behind the proscenium arch that, during the production of a play, is not seen by the audience.
  • BELOW --- Toward the audience. Same as "downstage of".
  • "BEST EIGHT BARS" --- In a musical audition, an excerpted section of a song (typically 8 measures more or less) that displays the best of an actor's singing voice.
  • BIT PART --- A small part with few lines.
  • BLACKOUT --- The sudden extinguishing of the stage lights.
  • BLOCKING --- The movements or locations of actors onstage.
  • BRIDGE --- In AABA song form, the 8 section, generally displaying contrasting melodic, rhythmic or stylistic characteristics, also called "release".
  • BUILD --- To increase the tempo or volume or both in order to reach a climax.


  • CALL --- The time at which a performer is expected to be at the theatre for rehearsal or performance.
  • CALL BOARD --- A backstage bulletin board on which notices of concern to the actors are posted.
  • CATTLE CALL --- An audition format in which many actors are seen in a short period of time.
  • CHEAT --- A term used without any derogatory meaning when an actor plays in a more open position, or performs an action more openly, than complete realism would permit.
  • CLAQUE --- Audience members who are friends or relatives of performers, or are hired especially, to applaud and cheer loudly, thereby giving the impression of general enthusiasm for a particular actor or performance.
  • CLOSED --- A "closed" position is one in which the actor is turned away from the audience.
  • COMPANY --- A group of actors who perform together.
  • CONVENTION --- In theatre, a special relation between the audience and the play in which the audience accepts certain obvious departures from reality.
  • CORST --- Council of Resident Stock Theatres
  • COSTUME PROPS --- Costume accessories used by the actor in executing business.
  • COUNTER --- A movement in the opposite direction in adjustment to the cross of another actor.
  • COVER --- An actor is said to be "covered" when another actor moves into a position between him and the audience, thus obstructing him from view.
  • CROSS --- Movement from one area to another; in writing, it is abbreviated by "X".
  • CUE --- The last words of a speech, or the end of an action, indicating the time tar another actor to speak or move.
  • CURTAIN CALL --- The appearance of actors onstage after the performance to acknowledge the applause of the audience. Curtain calls are carefully rehearsed. Actors are required to remain in costume and make-up and to take calls as rehearsed without variation. The term applies whether or not a curtain has been used.
  • CYCLCORAMA --- A large canvas hung in a half-circle that covers the back and part of the sides of the stage.


  • DIALOGUE--- The lines spoken by the characters in a play.
  • DOWNSTAGE --- That part of the stage nearest the audience.
  • DRESS STAGE --- A direction requesting the actors to adjust their positions to improve the compositional effect of the stage picture.
  • DRESSING THE SET --- The placement of furniture and prop items on the raw set to provide mood and a sense of identity.
  • DROP --- A flat curtain often painted that is suspended from the flies.
  • DROPPED --- Lines on which an actor does not project his voice sufficiently to be heard are said to be "dropped". The term also means an unintentional omission of lines.


  • EMC --- Equity Membership Candidate
  • ENSEMBLE ACTING --- A theatrical presentation in which the stress is on the performance of the group rather than the individual.
  • EPA --- Eligible Performer Auditions
  • EXIT --- To leave the stage. It is also an opening in the setting through which the actor may leave.
  • EXTRA --- A small non-speaking part.


  • FAKE BOOK --- A book of songs that contains only the melody line, lyrics and chord symbols.
  • FAKING --- Business which is not possible or practical to actually perform is said to be "faked".
  • FLAT --- The canvas-covered frames that constitute the walls of a stage setting.
  • FLIES --- The space above the stage in which the scenery is suspended.
  • FOURTH WALL --- The imaginary wail at the proscenium opening "through" which the audience views the play.
  • FREEZE --- In acting, to stand absolutely still for an agreed number of counts or until curtain or blackout.


  • GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES --- Any unchangeable fact that affects the playing of the scene.
  • GREEN ROOM --- A room located close to the stage in which the actors may await entrance cues and receive guests after the performance. The term also refers to the time directly before a performance during which the director or stage manager may give last minute notes.
  • GRIDIRON (GRID) --- A framework, usually of steel, above the stage area. It is used to support lights and flown scenery.
  • GROUND PLAN --- A plan that shows, from a point of view above the set, the location of walls, doors, windows and furniture. Often called floor plan.


  • HAND PROPS --- Small objects which the actor handles an stage


  • IMPROVISATION --- Spontaneous invention of lines and business by performers.
  • IN --- Toward the center of the stage.
  • INDICATING --- Performing an action without an intention. It is a derogatory term in psychologically motivated acting.
  • INGENUE --- The actress who plays the role of the innocent and attractive young woman.
  • INTENTION --- The actor's real reason for performing an action.


  • JUVENILE --- The male equivalent of the ingenue.


  • LORT --- League of Resident Theatres


  • MASK --- To hide a lighting instrument or the backstage area from the audience's view, usually by means of scenery.
  • MONOLOGUE --- Related to the soliloquy, this form of stage address is delivered by a character who is usually (though not always) alone on stage. The material does not represent the character's thoughts, however, but is clearly material that the character wishes to communicate primarily to the audience.
  • MOTIVATION --- Why the character acts.
  • MUGGING --- A derogatory term for exaggerated facial expression.


  • OFFSTAGE --- All parts of the stage not enclosed by the setting.
  • ONSTAGE --- That part of the stage enclosed by the setting.
  • OPEN POSITION --- An "open position" is one in which the actor is facing toward the audience, or nearly so.
  • OUT --- Away from the center of the stage.


  • PACING --- The rate of speed at which the actors speak their lines, pick up their cues, and perform their actions.
  • PAPERING THE HOUSE --- A term referring to the practice of issuing large quantities of complimentary tickets, or selling large numbers of tickets at reduced prices, in order to secure a large audience.
  • PATTER --- A song whose text, usually humorous, is sung very rapidly.
  • PERSONAL PROPS --- Hand props which are carried on the actor's person and are used only by him.
  • PICK UP CUES --- A direction for the actor to begin speaking immediately on cue without any lapse of time.
  • PLACES --- A direction given by the stage manager for everyone to be in his proper position for the beginning of an act.
  • POINTING --- Giving special emphasis to a word or phrase.
  • PROSCENIUM --- The wall separating the audience from backstage.
  • PROP TABLE --- Tables which are usually placed offstage right and left to accommodate props which the actors carry on and off the set.


  • RAKE --- To slant the stage floor up from front to back.


  • SETC --- Southeastern Theatre Conference
  • SOLILOQUY --- A speech delivered by an actor alone onstage which by convention is understood by the audience to be the character's internal thoughts, not a part of the dialogue.
  • SSDC --- Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers
  • STAGE BUSINESS --- Small actions performed by the actor onstage.
  • STAGE LEFT --- The actor's left as he stands onstage facing the audience.
  • STAGE PROPS --- Objects for dressing the stage which are not used by the actors in executing their business.
  • STAGE RIGHT --- The actor's right as he stand onstage facing the audience.
  • STEALING --- Term used to mean taking the audience's attention when it should be elsewhere. Scene stealers, either intentional or unintentional, are not well-liked in any cast.
  • STINGER --- A chord, usually staccato, that follows the final word of sung text in a song and serves as musical and dramatic punctuation for the song just performed. Also called 'button'.
  • STRIKE --- The direction given by the stage manager to change the setting for another scene or to dismantle the set at the end of a run.
  • SUBTEXT --- The actor's continuous thoughts that give meaning to the dialogue and the stage directions.


  • TAG LINE --- The last line of a scene or act.
  • TELESCOPING --- Overlapping speeches so that one actor speaks before another has finished. It is a technique for accelerating the pace on building a climax.
  • THRUST STAGE --- A stage with a projected apron or playing area that allows the audience to view the action from three sides.
  • TOP --- To "build" a line higher or louder than the one that preceded it.
  • TRAP --- An opening in the stage floor.


  • UPSTAGE --- Away from the audience.