prompter

Definition

Theater

  • A person employed to whisper key words to an actor who hasforgotten his next line. He attends all rehearsals and records stagemoves and script changes in his book. Prompt copies from the earlydays of the theater often provide the only reliable information onthe actors and playwright involved in a production.

    In 14th-century England, the prompter was also employed torevise and copy texts of the mystery plays, supply costumes, and providerefreshments. In the Elizabethan theater he was called the book-holder.A well-known prompter of the Restoration era was John Downes (d. 1710),who took up his duties at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in 1661. Promptingis one of the theatrical practices satirized by R. B. Sheridan inhis farce The Critic (1779). By the 18th century, the prompter'sduties included securing licenses for plays, copying scripts, holdingrehearsals, and cueing the music and scene changes.

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