Definition of theatre in English:


(US theater)


  • 1A building or outdoor area in which plays and other dramatic performances are given.

    • ‘But don't expect to see the results in opera houses or theaters any time soon.’
    • ‘Acrobatic performances take place in the open theatre behind the building.’
    • ‘A landmark cultural building, either a theatre or an opera house, according to Coyne, will act as a focal point for the area.’
    • ‘Performances increasingly moved to theatres with proscenium arches, so the audience now viewed the dancers from the front, though no two spectators would have an identical view.’
    • ‘Maggie was too young to notice such things and was excited about meeting a lady who sang in theaters and opera houses.’
    • ‘Catalans enjoy going to opera houses, theaters, and museums in Barcelona and other cities.’
    • ‘Most performances take place in theaters, usually in urban areas.’
    • ‘I always keep that in mind, even when going to the theatre for a performance.’
    • ‘The exhibitions are complemented by concerts and theatrical performances in the state-of-the-art theater.’
    • ‘He admitted that there was a long way to go to make it a first-class theatre for dramatic works.’
    • ‘This building was a theatre, teeming with life - actors, audience, staff.’
    • ‘Children were forced to wear their winter coats through a Christmas pantomime performance when a Southend theatre's heating system broke down.’
    • ‘The Union is actually becoming one of the very best little fringe theatres in London.’
    • ‘The newspaper asked a number of actors and directors why plays by Friedrich Schiller were no longer performed in German theatres.’
    • ‘Behind the main building, the octagonal theatre has also been remodelled to create a tranquil, communal garden.’
    • ‘Later, he had decided to relax by venturing to the theater to see William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.’
    • ‘This show, which includes many new songs, toured the country to much acclaim last summer with sell-out performances in various theatres.’
    • ‘The building is old and handsome, containing a bistro type restaurant, a theatre and other performance spaces, and at least four galleries.’
    • ‘The next performance at the theatre is Alan Ayckbourn's ‘Relatively Speaking’.’
    • ‘Romania has many radio stations, television stations, live theaters, opera houses, cabarets, and entertainment establishments.’
    • ‘I first saw James Brown in 1962 at an outdoor theatre in San Diego and it was electrifying.’
    playhouse, auditorium, amphitheatre, hippodrome, coliseum
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    1. 1.1often the theatremass noun The activity or profession of acting in, producing, directing, or writing plays.
      ‘what made you want to go into the theatre?’
      • ‘It was a happy coincidence that Brecht's theory of alienation was inspired by folk tales and folk theatre, which relied a lot on story-telling.’
      • ‘It's essential reading for anyone who cares about theater or writing.’
      • ‘Cinema, which borrows heavily from theatre in terms of choreography, has a few distinct features of its own that can be exploited.’
      • ‘Some useful notions about theatre, past and present, suggest that it can operate in this way.’
      • ‘It combines elements of mime, dance, theatre, puppetry and text.’
      • ‘I was in Japan last year and was fascinated by the theatre there - it's so different from western theatre.’
      • ‘He had the experience of writing for theatre in his early career.’
      • ‘I had never done any acting or theatre in school or college.’
      • ‘After a spell in the theatre, he directed the TV mini-series ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’, and the films ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘The Mother’.’
      • ‘Lively conversation and anecdotes will abound as the duo discuss the art of writing for theatre.’
      • ‘I don't think in terms of film; I think in terms of live theater.’
      • ‘After graduating, Grant dabbled briefly in advertising but plugged away at an acting career in regional theatre.’
      • ‘Since then he has attended the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts, and has been involved in all aspects of theatre including writing, acting and producing.’
      • ‘Even though film and television are more lucrative in terms of remuneration, theatre offers a true spiritual experience.’
      • ‘He then began to move more decisively toward theatre, drawn to directing by the opportunity to interpret other people's words.’
      • ‘It also gave him a valuable insight into the world of theatre and inspired him to develop his childhood talents.’
      • ‘He is known for his non-conformist attitude in every field in which he has proven himself, be it politics, theatre or the legal profession.’
      • ‘The idea is to turn the focus onto the fundamentals of theatre, including acting.’
      • ‘His growing literary interest led to his writing on theatre.’
      • ‘‘She told me that it was the role of theatre to present life and to put theatre back in touch with reality,’ says Mackenney.’
      acting, performing
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    2. 1.2mass noun A play or other activity or presentation considered in terms of its dramatic quality.
      ‘this is intense, moving, and inspiring theatre’
      • ‘The award recognises the company's well-deserved reputation for high-quality theatre by people with learning difficulties.’
      • ‘Then, in 1985, he formed a theatre company with the aim of producing quality professional theatre for young people.’
      • ‘‘It was really interesting in terms of trying to translate that experience into theatre,’ Eatough says.’
      • ‘This kind of theatre is what is meant by the term ‘edgy’ - fresh, in-your-face, a little disconcerting.’
      • ‘Simone's best songs had the dramatic breadth of musical theater.’
      • ‘The festival also attempts to improve the quality of college theatre.’
      • ‘This production has been handled very well by the director, cast and crew and is bound to delight fans of good-quality community theatre.’
      • ‘You couldn't get a better experience in terms of theatre.’
      • ‘Peter Doran said it proved it was possible to provide quality theatre in remote regions like Pembrokeshire.’
      • ‘It was a great opportunity for children to experience live, quality theatre with all the magic and excitement.’
      • ‘The production promises to live up to the group's current high standard of theatre, kicking off another packed year of top-quality shows.’
      • ‘The enthusiasts' tactics include presenting science as theatre, magic tricks and fantasy.’
      • ‘It has an unrivalled reputation for producing contemporary theatre of the highest quality, invention and energy, and for its dedication to new writing.’
      • ‘They have acquired such a reputation for quality theatre that their shows are always a date for the calendar.’
    3. 1.3West Indian, North American A cinema.
      • ‘We have one converted mausoleum that serves as the art house theatre.’
      • ‘Watch out for a streamlined and thus completely uninteresting Hollywood remake in a theatre near you soon.’
      • ‘The winners receive a ten-dollar gift certificate for Cineplex Odeon theatres.’
      • ‘The basic plot was reworked for a new movie that appeared in art house theaters in 2001.’
      • ‘I love movies and I love the big screen and the theatre.’
      • ‘I did not expect a disc of a film that played in art house theatres to be all that remarkable, but I was shocked by how impressed I was with the audio and video quality.’
      • ‘General Cinemas has a similar theatre called the Premium Cinema in the Chicago suburbs.’
      • ‘This includes all Regal, Loews Cineplex and United Artists theaters as well as several regional circuits.’
      • ‘After spending years in art-house theaters to avoid cheesy blockbusters, I was strangely comforted seeing American film culture here.’
      • ‘It now costs $13.50 to see an evening movie at a Famous Players megaplex, and Cineplex Odeon theatres like the Varsity have followed suit.’
      • ‘Rest assured, the art house theater will be bringing this movie to viewers in early March.’
      • ‘‘The Delicate Art of Parking’ is playing at the Cinemark Tinseltown theatres in Vancouver.’
  • 2A room or hall for lectures with seats in tiers.

    • ‘This evening Mick spoke to a packed lecture theatre at Victoria University's Architecture School in Wellington.’
    • ‘Sometimes, when I had to be content with a seat at the back of the lecture theatre, I used a pair of opera glasses to get at least a glimpse of the speaker.’
    • ‘We are often cramped in a small lecture theatre with not enough seats and people sprawled on the stairs.’
    • ‘Were the women the subject of any adverse comments about their presence in the lecture theatre or classroom?’
    • ‘As her eyes scanned the chemistry lecture theatre her attention was drawn to the strapping, sporty-looking student at the other side of the room.’
    • ‘This month, people will have the chance to watch the final cut at two showings at 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm in the lecture theatre.’
    • ‘Soon the protestors moved in to fill the lobby outside the lecture theatre.’
    • ‘I was sitting in my usual seat in the fourth row of the lecture theatre beside one of my other closest friends, Natalie, or Tally, as I liked to call her.’
    • ‘Work is due to start in April on the three-storey school, which will include a lecture theatre, IT rooms, restaurants and sports facilities.’
    • ‘The centre has a 150-seat state-of-the-art lecture theatre, an education suite and, of course, a restaurant and gift shop.’
    • ‘It has an air-conditioned, tiered lecture theatre, a conference room for 270 and a large number of seminar rooms.’
    • ‘Each day there will be exciting demonstrations, interactive workshops and fascinating talks in the lecture theatre, featuring new ideas and inspirational hints and tips from top experts.’
    • ‘Sitting in an overcrowded lecture theatre, I noticed students from the same school as Anna entering.’
    • ‘Further work will include a refurbished lecture theatre and new executive suite.’
    • ‘He made the infants' room look like a lecture theatre, with children as young as three sitting on tiers in a gallery.’
    • ‘When was the last time a boy held a door open for me coming out of a lecture theatre?’
    • ‘More than 100 people packed a lecture theatre at the Steam Museum to hear the MPs underline their commitment to the war and listen to the views of their constituents.’
    • ‘The accommodation is rather basic and although they already have a lecture theatre, smaller conference rooms are needed.’
    • ‘For a moment, it feels as if I'm back in a university lecture theatre.’
    • ‘The grant, which comes from Government money, would go towards work to build a new lecture theatre and improve disabled access and toilet facilities.’
    hall, room, auditorium
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    1. 2.1British An operating theatre.
      ‘respiratory function is carefully controlled and monitored throughout the patient's stay in theatre’
      as modifier ‘the theatre nurse’
      • ‘This would require reserve capacity in terms of operating teams and theatres.’
      • ‘She works as a nurse in the orthopaedic theatre in Sligo General Hospital.’
      • ‘Our reliance on such machinery was previously highlighted two years ago, when the hospital's theatres and intensive care unit were hit by power failures.’
      • ‘As previously mentioned, five of the nurses who participated in this study worked primarily in theatre.’
      • ‘On Sundays he would worry about the patients whose surgery would be cancelled next day for want of a bed, when the hospital had surgeons, theatres, and operating crew available.’
      • ‘Two audiologists, two speech therapists, a theatre sister and a specialist registrar will accompany the couple on the trip in October.’
      • ‘We need to fight back by ensuring that hospital wards, theatres and departments are kept spotlessly clean.’
      • ‘One of the vehicles will be converted to make a mobile clinic and dispensary service, while another will be used as a theatre for minor operations.’
      • ‘It had 42 beds, a theatre, labour ward, dispensary, and small laboratory.’
      • ‘The underuse of theatres is also resulting in the postponement of 145 operations a week.’
      • ‘The number of patients undergoing arthroplasty thus increased by 17% without any increase in theatre capacity or number of beds.’
      • ‘He kept a vigil outside the theatre while the surgeons operated.’
      • ‘She indicated that though she had had some theatre experience, she was not an experienced theatre nurse.’
      • ‘When this happens, the theatre nurses can relax and enjoy their work with the pressure off temporarily.’
      • ‘In theatre, the surgeon saved her life again, stabilising her multiple fractures before she was sent off to the intensive care unit in the middle of the night.’
      • ‘In the antiseptic environment of an obstetric theatre, I witnessed this spectacle with the detachment of a duty-conscious executioner.’
      • ‘The dressing should be removed in theatre with the patient under appropriate anaesthesia.’
      • ‘Her behaviour was always the same on the ward rounds, in clinics, and in theatre.’
      • ‘However, nothing would be gained by putting more patients on the ward than the theatre could process.’
      • ‘Operations will be moved to the hospital's seven other theatres.’
      • ‘However, these dressings are highly expensive and need to be applied by trained staff in theatre.’
  • 3The area in which something happens.

    ‘a new theatre of war has been opened up’
    • ‘She has served in very many operational theatres.’
    • ‘As the theatre of war moved south, so did the smallpox, primarily affecting civilians, camp followers, and irregular troops in both armies.’
    • ‘This theatre of war alone devoured 30,000 Soviet lives.’
    • ‘This has obvious effects on attempts to transport armies or other land forces by sea into distant theatres of operations.’
    • ‘This allows for the rapid deployment of troops around the world, no matter where the next theater of war develops.’
    • ‘He saw action in many theatres and was awarded Operational Service Medals for Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.’
    • ‘Fifteen months later, he was commanding a theater of war.’
    • ‘Having proved that she is more than capable of working in an operational theatre, HMS Echo is now beginning to demonstrate her true capabilities and value to the Fleet.’
    • ‘It removed bungling amateurs from the theatre of war.’
    • ‘The question has to be asked, however, what parents were doing allowing their children to be in harm's way in the middle of a bloody theatre of war.’
    • ‘It is accepted that no such training can wholly reproduce the conditions of patrolling a hostile area, much less wholly reproduce the experience of a theatre of war or of combat itself.’
    • ‘Italy, which had wanted to withdraw from the fighting, now became a theatre of war.’
    • ‘Two soldiers from 2 Para were flown home during the investigation and the other four remained in Kabul but were removed from the theatre of operation.’
    • ‘These divisions were deployed by the army in various operational theatres and fully integrated into its command structure.’
    • ‘Now, the big question is how do they extricate themselves from a theatre of war that daily looks more like a slaughterhouse?’
    • ‘During World War II, Soper was sent to the Mediterranean theater of operations as part of the U.S.A. Typhus Commission.’
    • ‘To compound the woes of the invading forces, with every passing day weather conditions in the theatre of war will grow increasingly worse.’
    • ‘He was later posted to the Pacific theatre of war, in charge of a mobile radar unit.’
    • ‘In the European theatre of war, 5,556 war criminals were tried, the majority in France, America, and the United Kingdom.’
    • ‘The badges will be presented to surviving members from either of the two wars, who served in operational theatres of war.’
    • ‘Successive governments denied that the region had been a theatre of war: pressure from veterans has forced recantation.’
    • ‘This was to turn the Middle East into an important theatre of war.’
    • ‘The main theatre of war was in the Crimea, where British, French and Turkish troops landed and laid siege to the port of Sebastopol.’
    • ‘More than two million of these were Americans bound for the European theatre of war.’
    • ‘Russia replied by opening up a new theatre of war in the Balkans.’
    • ‘This turned a diversionary skirmish into the main theatre of war.’
    • ‘On the point of losing everything to the rebels, the king's triumphant emergence in the theater of war helps push back the enemy and offers a possibility of victory.’
    • ‘The theatre of war looms large in France's film culture and this First World War prison drama, based on a true story, was long hailed as one of the greatest films ever made.’
    scene, arena, field of action, place of action, sphere of action
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    1. 3.1as modifier Denoting weapons intermediate between tactical and strategic.
      ‘he was working on theatre defence missiles’
      • ‘For one thing, if the North cancels its missile plans, the U.S. will lose a main justification for building the theater missile defense system Beijing opposes so strongly.’
      • ‘They would protect the country's navy in the first instance but would also offer a potential platform for theatre missile defence linked to a strategic defence system.’
      • ‘China has also been critical of the planned theater missile defense system to be jointly researched by Japan and the U.S.’
      • ‘He stressed he was not planning to discuss high-level issues such as the U.S. plan to deploy a theater missile defense system.’
      • ‘In any event, as a result of the bureaucratic ploys and the increased capability of theater missiles, the lines between the two programs have blurred.’
      • ‘These capabilities include both mine warfare and other coastal combat forces, and sea-based theater missile defence.’
      • ‘In the wake of the Rome Declaration, a special working group on theater missile defense was set up.’
      • ‘The program was to provide allies, such as Japan and South Korea, with so-called theater missile defense capability.’
      • ‘We already have theater missile systems that are working.’
      • ‘The Russian proposal was made in response to U.S. national missile defense plans including the U.S. and Japanese theater missile defense concept.’
      • ‘Rice was suggesting Japan and the U.S. step up cooperation on joint research on the theater missile defense system.’
      • ‘These include theater missile defense systems to protect troops and bases in relatively small regions of conflicts.’
      • ‘The North Korean threat is a key justification for U.S. military spending, the presence of U.S. troops in Asia and a new theatre missile defence system.’
      • ‘The Russians had rattled sabers throughout 1983, trying to stop NATO's theater missile deployment.’
      • ‘But it is not a tactical and theater missile threat that has formed the focus of National Missile Defense.’
      • ‘Japan is taking a rather supportive stance because it is engaged in joint research with the U.S. to develop a theater missile defense system.’


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin theatrum, from Greek theatron, from theasthai ‘behold’.