AskDefine | Define greenroom

Dictionary Definition

greenroom n : a backstage room in a theater where performers rest or have visitors

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. alternative spelling of green room

Extensive Definition

A green room is a room in a theater, studio, or other public venue for the accommodation of performers or speakers when not required on the stage.
Its function is as a break/touch-up lounge so that performers do not have to go back to wardrobe/dressing rooms and are still easily accessible for their call.
The first recorded use of the term was in 1701 but the origin of the term is unknown and is the source of many folk etymologies such as:
  • In some explanations it is said that the colour was a response to limelight – early stage lighting.
  • Green is also thought to be a calming and soothing colour.
  • The most widely accepted origin of the term dates back to Shakespearean theatre. Actors would prepare for their performances in a room filled with plants and shrubs. It was believed that the moisture in the topiary was beneficial to the Actors' voices.
  • Richard Southern, in his studies of Medieval theatre in the round, states that the acting area was "The Green". The central space, often grass-covered, was used by the actors, while the surrounding space and circular banks were occupied by the spectators. Since then "The Green" has been a traditional actor's term for the stage. Even in proscenium arch theatres there was a tradition that a green stage cloth should be used for a tragedy. The green room is thus the room on the way to the green. Technical Staff at some West End theatres (such as the London Coliseum), still refer to the stage as "the green".
  • It has been suggested that the original 'green room' was in a London theatre converted from office buildings. The room behind the stage had previously been used to cut deals and was known as the 'agreeing room,' and the phrase has become corrupted over the years.
  • According to a professor of theatre history, long before modern makeup was invented the actors had to apply makeup before a show and allow it to set up or cure before performing. Until the makeup was cured, it was "green" and people were advised to sit quietly in the "green room" until such time as the makeup was stable enough for performing. Uncured makeup is gone, but the green room lives on.
  • Some studies state that the green room was originally called the retaining room. The ensemble of a production would wait there for their appearance onstage, listening to the performance of the principal actors and critiquing their acting. When made aware of this practice, the leads began to call the retaining room the green room, mocking the envy of the "lesser actors."

Expanded meaning

In some theatre companies, the term green room also refers to the director's critique session held after a rehearsal or performance, since it is often held in the "green room." This session is used for a pep talk, bonding among actors, and/or warmup exercises.
The "green room" is also another location where patrons or fans may meet and greet the famous musician(s)/performer(s) after a concert. A fee is usually paid to gain access to this area.
The Green Room is also a place located in Kalamazoo, Michigan where alot of marijuana is smoked and songs are recorded by the local band that calls The Green Room their home.
Contrary to popular belief, most Green Rooms in theatres are not actually painted green.
In my experience, the "green", referring to the stage area, is a term derived from Cockney rhyming-slang - "greengage=stage". Thus, "see you on the green" means "see you onstage", a British Theatre phrase used, usually, with reference to rehearsals onstage, but can also mean "see you onstage during the performance". Incidentally, I have always spelled this term as "greenroom" -one word not two- since the reference now is neither to a colour nor to a "room", in the strict sense, but rather to an "area" where actors gather, relax, greet fans and visitors, meet for initial reading of the script, etc.

Other meanings

In surfing the "green room" is the inside of a barrel that is produced by a wave. This term was coined due to the color of light reflected into the barrel. In the White House the Green Room is one of three state parlors located on the state floor.
greenroom in Japanese: 楽屋
greenroom in Swedish: Green Room

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

L, R, acting area, antechamber, anteroom, apron, apron stage, audience chamber, backstage, band shell, bandstand, board, bridge, coulisse, dock, dressing room, flies, fly floor, fly gallery, forestage, grid, gridiron, lightboard, lounge, orchestra, orchestra pit, performing area, pit, presence chamber, proscenium, proscenium stage, reception room, shell, side room, stage, stage left, stage right, switchboard, the boards, throne room, waiting room, wardroom, wings
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