You can live without knowing these words, but when wading through highfalutin writing/conversations about theatre you will be glad to have them in your verbal armoury.
Meaning: The resolution of the intricacies of a plot.
Origin: From the French word dénouer, which means ‘untying’.
- At the end of every performance of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, the audience is requested to keep the surprise dénouement to themselves.
- Yours Truly theatre specializes in interactive plays that let the audience decide the play’s dénouement.
2. Deus ex machina
Meaning: The theatrical device of abruptly introducing a person, object or event to resolve a seemingly unsolvable problem. The use of a deus ex machina is generally frowned upon – it is like the playwright copping out of giving the audience a logical plot.
Origin: The Latin phrase deus ex machina originates from the Greek ‘theos ek mēkhanēs‘, which literally means ‘god out of the machine’. In ancient Greek and Roman theatre, a ‘god’ character would be lowered onto the stage from a suspended crane to sort out complications in the play and bring it to a tidy conclusion. Implausible endings would be accepted since ‘god’ was involved.
The phrase found its way into English from Horace’s Ars Poetica. Horace discouraged the use of deus ex machina [189-201] with words to this effect:
Nor should any god intervene unless a knot show up that is worthy of such a liberator; nor should a fourth actor strive to speak.
- The Importance of Being Earnest wouldn’t be as much fun without the deux ex machina of Miss Prism’s revelations.
- "That Potter lives is due more to dei ex machina than to his triumphs." [so Voldemort might have said]
Meaning: Intermission between acts of a theatrical production, more specifically a piece of music performed during the intermission.
Origin: From French, a combination of:
entre, meaning ‘between’
–acte, meaning ‘act’
- In Pierrot Theatre’s staging of Sayeed Alam’s Ghalib in New Delhi, the entr’acte is a beautiful rendition of songs from the 1954 movie Mirza Ghalib.
- During the entr’acte in Evam’s production Doubles, Triples and Quadruples, the artists shared with the audience funny experiences from their lives.
Meaning: A stock character in theatre of an endearingly innocent (read: empty-headed) young woman. Also an actress who gets typecast in playing such roles.
The ingénue is typically beautiful, dependent, and in distress. Ariel of The Little Mermaid and Cosette of Les Miserables are two examples of this role type.
Origin: From French ingénue, in turn derived from the Latin ingenuus meaning natural or freeborn.
- In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche pretends to be an ingénue in order to attract suitors, a pretence that backfires.
- Stage adaptations of Chetan Bhagat’s novels require nothing more from the female lead than playing the ingénue.
Meaning: The design aspects of a theatrical production including stage arrangement, lighting, positioning of actors, etc. Sometimes used in a broader sense to cover all elements of style and storytelling.
Origin: From French, translating to ‘putting on the stage’.
- The mise-en-scène in Just Theatre’s Hedda Gabler was not too audience-friendly in making the actors frequently face away from the viewers.
- An elaborate mise-en-scène does not make up for a weak script.
Meaning: A work of art, or the works of an artist (e.g. playwright) regarded collectively.
Origin: From the French word ‘oeuvre’, meaning work.
- Homeland and the pain of exile are central concerns in Abhishek Majumdar‘s oeuvre.
- "Judge me by my oeuvre, not my personal life", said the actor.
The opening separating the stage from the auditorium, traditionally designed like a picture frame and mounted with a curtain.
The ‘proscenium arch’ is the arch built around the stage opening, as in the picture below:
The arch creates a window around the stage, giving everyone in the audience a good view of the performance, at the same time easily hiding props and actors not currently performing.
- Modern theatre spaces favour the thrust stage over the proscenium.
- The proscenium arch in this playhouse is so majestic, it is hard take your eyes off it to watch the performance.
Speech by a character talking to himself/herself, as if there is no one hearing. A soliloquy reveals the character’s inner thoughts to the audience, like the thought bubble over a comic strip character or the voiceover when an evil bahu concocts her diabolical plans in a TV soap.
Monologue and soliloquy often get used interchangeably but there is a difference between the two. A monologue may be spoken within the hearing of other characters in the play, a soliloquy is made when the character is alone.
Origin: From Latin sōliloquium, a combination of:
sōli-,a combining form meaning ‘alone’ (also found in ‘solitude’)
-loqu-, to speak (also found in ‘loquacious’)
-ium, the Latin suffix for nouns derived from verbs (also found in ‘odium’)
- "To be, or not to be: that is the question" from Hamlet’s soliloquy must be the most quoted line written by Shakespeare.
- The play resorts to soliloquies for what should have been conveyed through the character’s expressions.
Other bombastic words you wish to nominate for the list?