Glossary for Drama Terms


The AHHH or the solution to the trouble in a story, scene or play. Grades K-8.

BEGINNING, MIDDLE and ENDING of a story. Grades 1-8

CHARACTERS–in the play or story. Characters with specific traits are necessary to create a play or a good story

“CHEAT OUT”—(the only time one may “cheat” in school). Cheating out is turning the body out toward the audience when one is onstage instead of turning sideways and directly facing the person or persons to whom you are speaking. Pointing the feet toward the audience helps the child to turn his/her body toward the audience. Grades 2-8

“ECHO” –a simple way of asking a child to please speak with more volume. Grades 1-8.

The essential questions every actor asks when creating a character for the stage or for a good story. When one answers these essential questions, one has the foundation for creating a character. Grades 4-8.

“FACES, NOT FANNIES”—a turn of phrase I created to help children to learn to cheat out. In the theatre, faces almost always are directed toward the audience.

HOUSE—the part of the theatre where the audience is seated. Grades Pre-K–8

IMPROVISATION—to create a scene, story or song without a written script.

LEGS—curtains or walls that mask the offstage area from the audience. Grades 1-8

SELF-SPACE—a space where you can safely move and explore without running into someone else’s “self-space”. I often use a hula hoop to introduce the concept of self space to young children in kindergarten and first grade. First graders are asked to create a “self space.” First graders  spend lots of time working on “self spaces”. We help children to explore how to create and maintain a self space throughout drama class and throughout their school day. Beginning in first grade and continuing through middle school, we spend time reflecting about appropriate discourse for problem solving in class. In kindergarten and first grade, the focus for appropriate discourse is “self space”. “What happens when someone is in my self space?” “How do I talk to someone to get him to move?” “When should I move out of another person’s self space?” The simple question of personal space and how to inhabit it is a big question for a kindergartener and a first grader and sometimes it can be equally challenging for a middle schooler!Grades 1-8

“SPOT-POINT”—a word I made up to help children to think before they speak and to create a “package” of words. To get to the point when telling a story or answering a question. Grade 3-8. I allow this term to be reciprocal, that is, my students may politely ask me for a spot point if I am running on in directions or a discussion. There is a hand movement that goes with the term–take both hands, hold them horizontally with palms facing each other, you may say or mouth the words, “spot point” as you take the top hand facing the bottom hand, both palms facing each other and move them toward each other, signifying the need for “economy of speech” or “thinking before one speaks”.  It works. I have never had a child use “spot point on me in a disrespectful or inappropriate manner.

“SWEARING WITH YOUR FACE”—I created this turn of phrase to help children understand that faces can give very clear positive (and NEGATIVE) messages.  Respectful and appropriate  non-verbal communication is equaly important as spoken language.  For example,  I might say to a disgruntled child, “It feels to me as if you are “swearing with your face. Please make sure your body is communicating respectfully. Grades 5-8.

TROUBLE, TROUBLE, TROUBLE or the problem or conflict of the story or of the scene. Trouble, trouble, trouble helps children remember that all good theatre pieces and all good stories contain some trouble or a problem to be solved. Grades K-8.

WARM-UP—warming up is essential for any artist before he/she begins his/her work. All grades.

KINESTHETIC LITERACY–understanding how your body communicates and receives input from the outside world. Understanding where your body is in space. Physical, visceral understanding of the world.

© Lizanne Wilson 2008

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