Scroll down to unveil key language used in Shakespeare’s famous plays

The repetition of the same, or similar, consonant sounds, usually on the first syllables of the words allusions indirect references to other texts, especially the classics and mythology


The contrast of ideas or words in a balanced or parallel construction assonance the repetition of vowel sounds in neighbouring syllables


The roofed space above the stage where sound effects are created. It is from the attic that the actors would be lowered through the trap door onto the stage. It is also used as a rehearsal space, and to store props


A rhyming poem that tells a story, often set to music


Blank verse  
A line of iambic pentameter that ends on an unrhymed or ‘blank’ syllable and gives the words a rhythm similar to a heartbeat. It is often used to express serious and sincere emotions


A break or pause in the middle a line of verse, marked by punctuation


reading ensemble speaking of a poem or dramatic work by a group, often making use of different vocal effects such as combinations of voices, variations in volume, tempo, tone, etc.


Planned movements to music. Each production has a dedicated choreographer who helps to develop dances, jigs, or any other types of movement performed in the play


A pair of verse lines that usually rhyme


all the lines and cue words for a particular character in a particular section of a play cuts for many reasons, a director may choose not to use a text in its entirety. The lines removed from the play are known as the cuts


The person responsible for the overall look of the production, from the set right through to the make-up. At the Globe, set design is often kept to a minimum because the painting on the front of the tiring house (the frons scenae) cannot be changed. Designers can use different floor coverings, curtains across the frons scenae, or design various props, but the stage crew must be able to change the set in one hour because there are two different performances each day


The person in overall artistic control of the production


Discovery space 
The space in the central opening which can be hidden by curtains that are pulled away to ‘discover’ a surprise event, object or moment, such as Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess in The Tempest. It is big enough to hold a bed and several actors or a small cast making up an army dramatic irony this is when the audience of a play know crucial information that the characters onstage do not know


A play or part of a play with lines for only two actors

when a sentence runs from one line of verse to the next, with no punctuation or pause sometimes called a ‘run-on line’


A section or speech that concludes and perhaps comments on the work just seen or read  epithet adjective or phrase regarded as a summing up of a character’s nature


Feminine ending  
A line of verse which ends on an unstressed syllable; this syllable is usually not counted as one of the ten syllables of the lines


A book made up of printed sheets that have been folded in half, to make four pages. Folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays contain all 37 of his plays plus his other printed works. Shakespeare’s own Quartos (see below), acting versions of the plays (cue scripts) and printed Quarto editions were combined by editors to create the text of the first folio edition (printed in 1623). However, there are often many differences between the Folio and Quarto editions


The basic unit for describing metre, usually consisting of a certain number and combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. Say ‘today’ out loud. Notice that you say ‘to-DAY’ not ‘TO-day’. The first syllable is unaccented, the second accented. An unaccented syllable, followed by an accented one, is an example of one kind of foot, the one called iamb. So the word ‘today’ is an example of one iambic foot


Frons Scenae 
The back walls of the Globe stage decorated with mythological symbols and figures, and is often draped in hangings


A style or category of art of literature. Shakespeare’s plays have been traditionally classed as one of three main genres – tragedies, histories and comedies. The First Folio of 1623 classfied Shakespeare’s plays in this way


At the Globe, the stage is surrounded by a yard where spectators can stand to watch the performance. These spectators are known as groundlings. The groundlings have the best view of the Heavens

The roof over the Globe stage, painted with stars, moons, and signs of the zodiac. This image reflects the Renaissance belief in the influence of the movements of the stars upon the world below


The area underneath the stage where the trap door leads. It might be used for graveyard scenes by Shakespeare’s company, as a tomb or a place from where devils or witches appear


A description which exaggerates, by using extremes of language


Iambic pentameter  
A line of verse that contains ten syllables where every second beat is accented or stressed. If you read this line, the emphasis falls on every second syllable: “Right glad I am he was not at this fray” imagery figurative or vivid language which is used to evoke imaginative or emotional responses. It is a very general term and includes more specific examples such as metaphors, similes and symbols


A lively dance, often performed at the end of the play in Shakespeare’s time as a way of bringing together the players and audience

a spectacular performance involving song, dance and acting, often performed at court as part of a celebration


A substitution of an object or idea for another by stating one is the other, usually to show that they share one specific quality or feature


The basic rhythmic structure of a line of poetry monologue part of a play with only one speaking part


A dominant or recurring image or idea in a work of literature


Work each day the actors have movement classes. They will be encouraged to develop an awareness of their bodies and to explore how they can be used to communicate essential information about character and the story of the play to the audience. Actors will also think about movement with specific reference to the Globe Stage


Musicians’ gallery  
The balcony above the main playing space


Off the book  
The term used to describe the point at which actors have learnt their lines and no longer need to read from the script


A word that sounds like what it is describing


Original practices  
This is a term used to describe a production that explores methods used in Elizabethan or Jacobean theatre


A word or phrase made up of two opposites


Something that seems to be impossible to understand, because it appears to contradict itself


Imitation of a characteristic style of an author or work for comic effect


A description of an object as if it is a person, by giving it human characteristics


Abbreviation of ‘properties’ or items required during a scene that can be carried on and off. ‘Rehearsal props’ are used before the actual performance to help actors become accustomed to using their props on stage, and to prevent the performance props from becoming lost or damaged


A word that takes the place of a noun, e.g. (I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, etc.)


Writing that is grammatical and flows like speech


A form of word play that suggests more than one meaning for humorous or rhetorical effect

Book made from printed sheets that have been folded in half twice to make eight pages. Many of Shakespeare’s plays were printed individually in Quarto form and such editions are sometimes referred to as first and second Quartos or the first and second editions. The Good Quartos are those that used Shakespeare’s own play scripts as their source


Read through
The initial reading of the play by the company. The actors usually, but not always, sit in a circle and read the play from beginning to end. This marks the start of the rehearsal process


The use of the same word or phrase twice or more to add emphasis


When two or more words or phrases contain an identical or similar sound, particularly noticeable at the end of a line


This is the word used to describe the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables found in both verse and prose. Different lines of verse can have the same metre but a different rhythm. In this example of prose we can see how words are stressed in a less regular way than they would be in blank verse; this rhythm can give us clues about the emotional state of the characters sense unit ‘a section of language that comprises a thought, a coherent unit of dramatic language’ (Rex Gibson)


A comparison between two objects or ideas using ‘like’ or ‘as’, usually to show that they share similar characteristics


When a character in a dramatic work speaks at length to himself or herself, sharing their innermost thoughts with the audience


Stage directions 
Instructions in the text that give explicit directions for action or embedded direction within the dialogue


Stage manager  
The stage manager is the person in charge behind the stage, coordinating the actors and the stage management team. They are present at all rehearsals, responsible for keeping ‘the book’ and for organising actors’ calls for the following day. At the Globe, there can be up to four stage managers per production


A physical object, character or colour which represents an idea or abstract concept

When people create still images to represent a moment from a story (also known as ‘freeze-frames’ or ‘still image’)


A line of verse with four feet, often associated with magical characters  text work this is the part of the rehearsal process where the actors can work with a specialist in order to fully understand the text


Technical rehearsal  
The first rehearsal where all the different parts of the production are brought together. The musicians perform live for the first time and the actors are in full costumes and use their performance props. All the sound cues are tested. The technical rehearsal is lengthy, often taking place over several days, as it will stop and start repeatedly


Tiring house
The building at the back of the Globe stage where the actors wait when they are not on stage (where they retire), and also where they change their costumes (their attire). During a performance, the tiring house staff can consist of two production stage managers, two technical stage managers and people from the wigs, props (design), and wardrobe departments


Literally, trap doors. At the Globe, there is one in the floor of the stage and one in the Heavens from which actors can be raised up or lowered onto the stage


A body of writing divided from other lines into a separate group. Shakespeare uses a type of verse called ‘blank verse’, which is a line of iambic pentameter that ends on an unrhymed or ‘blank’ syllable and gives the words a rhythm similar to a heartbeat. It is often used to express serious and sincere emotions


Voice work  
Each day, the actors have voice classes. On the most basic level this helps them to strengthen and develop their voices. The specialist will also help them to develop any accents they have to use, and to convey a sense of their character through their speech


Warm up 
A set of physical and vocal exercises used by the actors to relax, focus, and prepare their bodies and voices before a performance


The open area, without seats, at the centre of the Globe Theatre, directly in front of the stage. 700 people can stand in the yard to watch a performance. These members of the audience are referred to as ‘groundlings’