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Our theme this week will be "Words of the Theater".

loge – in a theater or the like: 1. a small box of seats 2. the front rows of the mezzanine
We illustrate each sense.
    Each day too there was jousting at the lists outside the castle walls. The ladies' loges were so crowded with the relatives and sweethearts of the contending knights that there was no room for Katherine.
    – Anya Seton and Philippa Gregory, Katherine

    [at the Washington, D.C. football stadium] Many of those in the club and loge seats are attorneys and business people who plan to use the tickets to entertain clients and business contacts.
    – Washington Post, Sept. 12, 1997
 
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greenroom – a waiting room or lounge for the performers, when they are offstage

You might forget this word, but you'll never forget this story that Phyllis Diller tells on herself in our second quote!
    When we weren't working, we hung out in the dressing rooms or the greenroom and talked or just gawked at each other.
    – Ellen Burstyn, Lessons in Becoming Myself

    Early in her career, she and Tony Randall were guests on a television variety show. Chitchatting in the greenroom before the show, Randall used a word that was completely unfamilliar to Diller: fellatio. Not wanting to reveal her lack of sophistication, but well aware of Randal's classical training as an actor, she said: I haven't read much Shakespeare.
    – Mardy Grothe, Viva la Repartee [etc.]
 
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greenroom – a waiting room or lounge for the performers, when they are offstage

You might forget this word, but you'll never forget this story that Phyllis Diller tells on herself in our second quote!
    When we weren't working, we hung out in the dressing rooms or the greenroom and talked or just gawked at each other.
    – Ellen Burstyn, Lessons in Becoming Myself

    Early in her career, she and Tony Randall were guests on a television variety show. Chitchatting in the greenroom before the show, Randall used a word that was completely unfamilliar to Diller: fellatio. Not wanting to reveal her lack of sophistication, but well aware of Randall's classical training as an actor, she said: I haven't read much Shakespeare.
    – Mardy Grothe, Viva la Repartee [etc.]
 
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claque1. a group of people hired to applaud or heckle a performer; a "rent-a-crowd" 2. a group of sycophantic followers (esp. in politics)
[from Fr. claquer "to clap"]
    Outside the windows Drumont's claque, paid at forty sous a head, hooted and jeered.
    – Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914

    [Lyndon Baines Johnson] went public only after it was all done, and even then, when he dealt with the press, he was the private man, calling in a small claque of reporters whom he knew and trusted.
    – David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest
 
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proscenium – an arch framing the opening between the stage and the auditorium; also called proscenium arch.

Our second quote makes lovely metaphorical use of proscenium as the "opening" into the special world presented on stage. (Its last word, by the way, is an alternate form of "terrain".)
    ... the curtain rises to show an actor before an enormous screen, and on either side of the proscenium other screens light up, flashing ever-changing images from Lincoln's life. They fade to grey, then light up again, then fade, only to light up again with more colorful images. Some multimedia effect or another is never more than a few moments away.
    – Andrew Ferguson, Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America

    Geologists are inconsistent drivers. When a road-cut presents itself, they tend to lurch and weave. To them, a road-cut is a portal, a fragment of a regional story, a proscenium arch that leads their imaginations into the earth and through the surrounding terrane.
    – John McPhee, Annals of the Former World
(A secondary meaning of proscenium is "the part of a stage in front of the curtain".)
 
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quote:
(Its last word [terrane], by the way, is an alternate form of "terrain".)

Actually, in this context, it means "an accretion that has collided with a continental nucleus, or 'craton' but can be recognized by the foreign origin of its rock strata" (from Wikipedia). It's as if the plate Hawaii is on was subducted beneath a continental plate, but Hawaii itself was scraped off and added to the coast. California is made up of many different terranes.
 
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histrionic – theatrical in style; 'stagey';
hence histrionics – exaggerated emotional behavior calculated for manipulative effect

I suppose all acting is "faking it." Certainly today's quote, of which I'm fond, concerns "faking it". Smile
    … I am quite sure that the only things Lois knew about love was how to spell the word and how to make the physiological adjustments traditionally associated with the idea. She did not spell very well, but she made those adjustments with great skill and relish. The relish was nature, but the skill was art, and ars longa est. I knew this despite the very expert and sustained histrionics of which Lois was capable. I knew it, but I succeeded in burying it out in the back yard of my mind … I didn't really care, I suppose, so long as nothing happened to make me have to face the fact.
    – Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men
 
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wing it – to attempt a task without sufficient preparation, and be forced to improvise

A reader points out to me (thanks, Susan!) that this comes from the theater, where a thespian might be suddenly thrust into a role on short notice, without time to learn the lines. How does this relates to the "wings" of a theater? OED's quotes give two different explanations:

– the artiste frequently received the assistance of a special prompter … screened … by a piece of the scenery or a wing
– refreshing his memory for each scene in the wings before he goes on to play it
    … even America's newest literary darling, Bret Harte, had stumbled badly at Harvard in June. Invited to write and deliver a poem …, Harte had showed up late, his poem unfinished. He had tried to wing it with some other verse he'd brought along; the verse was blatantly irrelevant to the occasion …
    – Ron Powers, Mark Twain: A Life
(By the way, though wing and a prayer might seem related, it is a later phrase from WWII aviation.)
 
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Theater companies in continental Europe routinely employ a "dramaturg" on staff. British companies have only recently started the practice, and the understanding of what a dramaturg is to do – that is, the English meaning of the word "dramaturg" – is evolving; indeed it is intensely debated. (Mary Luckhurst, Dramaturgy: A Revolution in Theatre)

Let me see if I can approach the concept:
    Dramaturgy can be described as 'preparing the text for performance'. A dramaturg will normally be involved in detailed research for the production, bringing an intimate knowledge of the script to the production process. They will have gathered material that will help the rest of the production team to understand the piece better ... During the development of a production the dramaturg … may also be a resource for actors, designers and technicians... their task is to help the production remain in line with the original vision
    – Peter Maccoye, Essentials of Stage Management

    A dramaturg is a person with a knowledge of the history, theory, and practice of theatre, who helps a director, designer, playwright or actor realize their intentions in a production. The dramaturg … is an in-house artistic consultant cognizant of an institution's mission, a playwright's passion, or a director's vision, and who helps bring them all to life in a theatrically compelling manner.
    Oxford Enyclopaedia to Theatre and the Performing Arts
But to me the best definition is a New Yorker cartoon where a man in open vest parts the curtain, looks out to the audience, and asks hopefully, "Is there a doctor of literature in the house?"
 
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I love the expression "break a leg." On the theory that it is bad luck to wish a performer "good luck" before a performance, one wishes him bad luck, i.e., to break a leg, in the hope he will have good luck.
I frequently use the phrase to wish someone well before doing something.
 
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There was an article today about John Boller who is a dramaturg for Court Theatre's (at the University of Chicago) revival of Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia." Boller has a doctorate in mathematics, not theater, and is a senior lecturer in math at the University of Chicago. Apparently he isn't your typical dramaturg. According to the Chicago Tribune article, "Arcadia," which I haven't seen, turns on such esoteric mathematical matters as iterated algorithms, fractal geometry and Fermat's last theorem. Boller has the backstage theatrical job of being the scholarly researcher and historical expert. It was really a timely article, given this theme!
 
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Here is one that I never bothered to look up until this thread came out....

exeunt: Used as a stage direction to indicate that two or more performers leave the stage.
[Latin, third person pl. of exire, to go out; see exit.]


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