Posted by: Anya Martin | September 15, 2008

How Steeler Fans Can Watch Theatre like the Pros

… Or How to be a Renaissance Fan

There seems to be a societal war of “sports lovers” vs. “art lovers.” Early on in our adolescence we must choose our sides in this conflict. You can either enlist in the middle school drama club or be drafted onto the junior varsity football team. This crucial decision in your prepubescent years will often determine your ranking in this rivalry for perhaps the rest of your life. In high school you can either be the artsy kid able to move easily in art, chorus, and journalism circles or the athletic kid playing football, running track, and getting A’s in gym class.

Our identification with one of these two groups will often determine who we consider as friends, how we dress, and to what we will inevitably sigh and roll our eyes over when someone from the other camp mentions an upcoming game or show. A lot of name calling often ensues when a theatre lover meets a sports lover. Both accuse the other’s obsession of being boring, overrated, and irrelevant. Much of these hostilities arise from jealousies. Theatre scowls at football’s mass appeal, money, and superstars. Football grumbles over theatre’s college degrees in drama and associations with cultural sophistication.

This culture war of football versus theatre has always been astonishing to me, since the two have so much in common. (They are both played for an audience’s entertainment.) Yet rarely do these sides come together to recognize their many similarities on the field or, eh, stage. (Many of the components of one event have a parallel in the other, but the terminology is different. For instance: In football, special clothing for the occasion is called a “uniform,” while in theatre, identifying attire is called a “costume.”) So in honor of two world class festivals or seasons kicking off this fall in the great city of Pittsburgh, here’s a helpful list of parallel vocabulary terms so that you can truly be a renaissance fan. (And maybe bring about world peace in the process…)




Game Performance or Show
Stadium Theatre
Field Stage
Locker Room Dressing Room
Practice Rehearsal
General Manager Producer
Coach Director/Playwright
Offensive Coordinator Assistant Director/Choreographer
Player Actor
Second String Understudy
Official Stage Manager
Team Ensemble
Uniform Costume
Crowd/Fans Audience
Kick Off Curtain Up
Game Clock Running Time
Season Season or Festival
Away Game Touring Show
Ushers Ushers
Tickets Tickets
Warm-Ups Warm-Ups
Program Program or Playbill
Play(Players pre-planned movements on the field after the snap. There are many plays per game.) Blocking(Actors pre-planned movements on the stage.)
Play Book The Play or Script(There is usually only one play per show.)
Formation(Players’ alignment on the field prior to the snap.) Places(Actors’ locations on the stage before each act.)
Touchdown A big laugh in a comedy or tears in a tragedy/drama


Side Line(Where players wait for their time to enter the playing field.) Green Room(Where actors wait for their cue to enter the stage.)
Fumble(Dropped ball) Dropped Line(An actor forgets a line)
Fumble Recovery Ad Libbing
Quarterback Leading Man
Wide Receiver Character Actor
Offensive or Defensive Linemen Supporting Actor
Equipment Manager Props Master
NFL Combine Auditions
Draft Casting
Scrimmage Dress Rehearsal
50 Yard Line Club Box Seats Front Row Orchestra Seats
Nose Bleed/Peanut Heaven Back upper balcony, house right, blocked view
Tailgating Dinner and a Show
Superbowl Champions Tony Award for Best Play or Musical
Most Valuable Player (MVP) Tony Award for Best Actor or Actress


Fumble-Rooski Breaking the Fourth Wall
Sudden Change Plot Twist
Hail Mary Crisis/Climatic Moment
Excessive Celebration Upstaging
Steelers Protagonist
Browns Antagonist


(coaches) (playwrights)

(players) (actors)

Chuck Knoll William Shakespeare
Bill Cower George Bernard Shaw
Mike Tomlin Tony Kushner

Terry Bradshaw John Barrymore
Mean Joe Green Al Pacino
Heinz Ward Anya Martin ( 🙂 )




  1. That’s great, Anya! So true…it was always an interesting event when, in HS, a “jock” would audition for a play (when his sport wasn’t in season of course), and since we were often in need of male actors…alas, the worlds met!

    Oftentimes, it is the structure of rehearsals vs. practice that forces someone into one role or the other. It is almost impossible to do both in Middle/High School, since practice usually is scheduled at the same time. So until they figure out a way…

  2. […] *Kick Off Party aka Opening Night Party. For more theatre meets football lingo see “How Steeler Fans Can Watch Theatre Like the Pros.” […]

  3. […] 1970’s – I do believe that sports and good theatre have a lot to do with one another. (See How Steeler Fans Can Watch Theatre Like the Pros […]

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