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Learn to Talk Like the Brits in Noises Off


By A Noise Within
May 9, 2018

Need to brush up on your British slang? Not familiar with theatre lingo? No worries, we have a quick glossary of all the slang words and theatrical terms from Noises Off so that you don’t miss a single joke! Be in the know before the show, and you can join all the laughs in our hysterical production.

Ballcocks: Floating balls that control water levels in toilets. A ballcock (also balltap or fill valve) is also a mechanism for filling water tanks, such as those found in flush toilets, while avoiding overflow.

Beginners: The actors who open the play, or appear on stage first. In the UK, the stage manager calls “Beginners, please!” five minutes before curtain. In America, the phrase “Places, please!” is used.

Bustups: Another term for argument or fight, also a breakup.

Calls: Announcements by the stage manager, letting the actors know when the play will begin.

Dials 999: UK version of 911, the number dialed for emergencies.

Distraint: (Also called Distress.) The seizure and holding of a person’s property as security for payment of a debt or satisfaction of a claim.

Elecs: A shortened term for Electrical engineers; also known as sound, lighting, and rigging operators for the theatre.

Front of House Calls: The notifications to patrons letting them know to find their seats, and giving actors the number of minutes until the curtain goes up.

Loo: Slang term for bathroom—quite popular in the UK.

Madeira: An amber dessert wine from the Madeira Islands.

Masking: A masking piece is scenery used to block the audience’s view of parts of the stage that should not be seen.

OAPs: Old Age Pensioners. Essentially, older people who would be receiving government-supported income assistance (a pension).

Postprandial Snooze: An after dinner nap.

Scenery Dock: Another term for the scenery shop, where sets and props are built and stored.

Shindig: A large and noisy party of people. A gathering or get-together.

Stalls: The lower private balcony seats closest to the stage.

Tabs: A term for curtains on a stage.

Tannoy: A loud speaker used for announcements.

Wings: Area immediately offstage, where actors stand to wait for their cues. The term comes from the use of “Drop Wing” sets of flats, which the actors hide behind.

Tickets to Noises Off are on sale now.

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