Definition of theatre in English:


(US theater)


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

    • ‘I first saw James Brown in 1962 at an outdoor theatre in San Diego and it was electrifying.’
    • ‘Catalans enjoy going to opera houses, theaters, and museums in Barcelona and other cities.’
    • ‘This building was a theatre, teeming with life - actors, audience, staff.’
    • ‘Most performances take place in theaters, usually in urban areas.’
    • ‘The building is old and handsome, containing a bistro type restaurant, a theatre and other performance spaces, and at least four galleries.’
    • ‘Behind the main building, the octagonal theatre has also been remodelled to create a tranquil, communal garden.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Later, he had decided to relax by venturing to the theater to see William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.’
    • ‘The next performance at the theatre is Alan Ayckbourn's ‘Relatively Speaking’.’
    • ‘The newspaper asked a number of actors and directors why plays by Friedrich Schiller were no longer performed in German theatres.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Romania has many radio stations, television stations, live theaters, opera houses, cabarets, and entertainment establishments.’
    • ‘The Union is actually becoming one of the very best little fringe theatres in London.’
    • ‘But don't expect to see the results in opera houses or theaters any time soon.’
    • ‘Maggie was too young to notice such things and was excited about meeting a lady who sang in theaters and opera houses.’
    • ‘I always keep that in mind, even when going to the theatre for a performance.’
    • ‘This show, which includes many new songs, toured the country to much acclaim last summer with sell-out performances in various theatres.’
    • ‘Acrobatic performances take place in the open theatre behind the building.’
    • ‘Children were forced to wear their winter coats through a Christmas pantomime performance when a Southend theatre's heating system broke down.’
    • ‘A landmark cultural building, either a theatre or an opera house, according to Coyne, will act as a focal point for the area.’
    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?’
      • ‘Some useful notions about theatre, past and present, suggest that it can operate in this way.’
      • ‘After a spell in the theatre, he directed the TV mini-series ‘The Buddha of Suburbia’, and the films ‘Notting Hill’ and ‘The Mother’.’
      • ‘It combines elements of mime, dance, theatre, puppetry and text.’
      • ‘Cinema, which borrows heavily from theatre in terms of choreography, has a few distinct features of its own that can be exploited.’
      • ‘After graduating, Grant dabbled briefly in advertising but plugged away at an acting career in regional theatre.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lively conversation and anecdotes will abound as the duo discuss the art of writing for 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.’
      • ‘It also gave him a valuable insight into the world of theatre and inspired him to develop his childhood talents.’
      • ‘He had the experience of writing for theatre in his early career.’
      • ‘I was in Japan last year and was fascinated by the theatre there - it's so different from western theatre.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I don't think in terms of film; I think in terms of live theater.’
      • ‘I had never done any acting or theatre in school or college.’
      • ‘His growing literary interest led to his writing on 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.’
      • ‘The idea is to turn the focus onto the fundamentals of theatre, including acting.’
      • ‘It's essential reading for anyone who cares about theater or writing.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The production promises to live up to the group's current high standard of theatre, kicking off another packed year of top-quality shows.’
      • ‘Simone's best songs had the dramatic breadth of musical theater.’
      • ‘The enthusiasts' tactics include presenting science as theatre, magic tricks and fantasy.’
      • ‘You couldn't get a better experience in terms of theatre.’
      • ‘Then, in 1985, he formed a theatre company with the aim of producing quality professional theatre for young people.’
      • ‘They have acquired such a reputation for quality theatre that their shows are always a date for the calendar.’
      • ‘It was a great opportunity for children to experience live, quality theatre with all the magic and excitement.’
      • ‘‘It was really interesting in terms of trying to translate that experience into theatre,’ Eatough says.’
      • ‘Peter Doran said it proved it was possible to provide quality theatre in remote regions like Pembrokeshire.’
      • ‘It has an unrivalled reputation for producing contemporary theatre of the highest quality, invention and energy, and for its dedication to new writing.’
      • ‘This kind of theatre is what is meant by the term ‘edgy’ - fresh, in-your-face, a little disconcerting.’
    3. 1.3West Indian, North American A cinema.
      • ‘Watch out for a streamlined and thus completely uninteresting Hollywood remake in a theatre near you soon.’
      • ‘This includes all Regal, Loews Cineplex and United Artists theaters as well as several regional circuits.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We have one converted mausoleum that serves as the art house theatre.’
      • ‘I love movies and I love the big screen and the theatre.’
      • ‘The winners receive a ten-dollar gift certificate for Cineplex Odeon theatres.’
      • ‘Rest assured, the art house theater will be bringing this movie to viewers in early March.’
      • ‘The basic plot was reworked for a new movie that appeared in art house theaters in 2001.’
      • ‘‘The Delicate Art of Parking’ is playing at the Cinemark Tinseltown theatres in Vancouver.’
  • 2A room or hall for lectures with seats in tiers.

    • ‘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 evening Mick spoke to a packed lecture theatre at Victoria University's Architecture School in Wellington.’
    • ‘Were the women the subject of any adverse comments about their presence in the lecture theatre or classroom?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Further work will include a refurbished lecture theatre and new executive suite.’
    • ‘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 grant, which comes from Government money, would go towards work to build a new lecture theatre and improve disabled access and toilet facilities.’
    • ‘He made the infants' room look like a lecture theatre, with children as young as three sitting on tiers in a gallery.’
    • ‘The centre has a 150-seat state-of-the-art lecture theatre, an education suite and, of course, a restaurant and gift shop.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The accommodation is rather basic and although they already have a lecture theatre, smaller conference rooms are needed.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Soon the protestors moved in to fill the lobby outside the lecture theatre.’
    • ‘We are often cramped in a small lecture theatre with not enough seats and people sprawled on the stairs.’
    • ‘For a moment, it feels as if I'm back in a university lecture theatre.’
    • ‘It has an air-conditioned, tiered lecture theatre, a conference room for 270 and a large number of seminar rooms.’
    • ‘Work is due to start in April on the three-storey school, which will include a lecture theatre, IT rooms, restaurants and sports facilities.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When was the last time a boy held a door open for me coming out of a lecture theatre?’
    • ‘Sitting in an overcrowded lecture theatre, I noticed students from the same school as Anna entering.’
    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’
      • ‘When this happens, the theatre nurses can relax and enjoy their work with the pressure off temporarily.’
      • ‘However, nothing would be gained by putting more patients on the ward than the theatre could process.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, these dressings are highly expensive and need to be applied by trained staff in theatre.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We need to fight back by ensuring that hospital wards, theatres and departments are kept spotlessly clean.’
      • ‘Two audiologists, two speech therapists, a theatre sister and a specialist registrar will accompany the couple on the trip in October.’
      • ‘As previously mentioned, five of the nurses who participated in this study worked primarily in theatre.’
      • ‘He kept a vigil outside the theatre while the surgeons operated.’
      • ‘It had 42 beds, a theatre, labour ward, dispensary, and small laboratory.’
      • ‘This would require reserve capacity in terms of operating teams and theatres.’
      • ‘She indicated that though she had had some theatre experience, she was not an experienced theatre nurse.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Operations will be moved to the hospital's seven other theatres.’
      • ‘She works as a nurse in the orthopaedic theatre in Sligo General Hospital.’
      • ‘Her behaviour was always the same on the ward rounds, in clinics, and in theatre.’
  • 3The area in which something happens.

    ‘a new theatre of war has been opened up’
    • ‘It removed bungling amateurs from the theatre of war.’
    • ‘Fifteen months later, he was commanding a theater of war.’
    • ‘He was later posted to the Pacific theatre of war, in charge of a mobile radar unit.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He saw action in many theatres and was awarded Operational Service Medals for Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.’
    • ‘She has served in very many operational theatres.’
    • ‘Now, the big question is how do they extricate themselves from a theatre of war that daily looks more like a slaughterhouse?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Italy, which had wanted to withdraw from the fighting, now became a theatre of war.’
    • ‘This has obvious effects on attempts to transport armies or other land forces by sea into distant theatres of operations.’
    • ‘Russia replied by opening up a new theatre of war in the Balkans.’
    • ‘During World War II, Soper was sent to the Mediterranean theater of operations as part of the U.S.A. Typhus Commission.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These divisions were deployed by the army in various operational theatres and fully integrated into its command structure.’
    • ‘Successive governments denied that the region had been a theatre of war: pressure from veterans has forced recantation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This was to turn the Middle East into an important theatre of war.’
    • ‘This allows for the rapid deployment of troops around the world, no matter where the next theater of war develops.’
    • ‘More than two million of these were Americans bound for the European theatre of war.’
    • ‘The badges will be presented to surviving members from either of the two wars, who served in operational theatres of war.’
    • ‘This theatre of war alone devoured 30,000 Soviet lives.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the European theatre of war, 5,556 war criminals were tried, the majority in France, America, and the United Kingdom.’
    • ‘The main theatre of war was in the Crimea, where British, French and Turkish troops landed and laid siege to the port of Sebastopol.’
    • ‘This turned a diversionary skirmish into the main theatre of war.’
    • ‘To compound the woes of the invading forces, with every passing day weather conditions in the theatre of war will grow increasingly worse.’
    • ‘As the theatre of war moved south, so did the smallpox, primarily affecting civilians, camp followers, and irregular troops in both armies.’
    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’
      • ‘In the wake of the Rome Declaration, a special working group on theater missile defense was set up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He stressed he was not planning to discuss high-level issues such as the U.S. plan to deploy a theater missile defense system.’
      • ‘The Russians had rattled sabers throughout 1983, trying to stop NATO's theater missile deployment.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These capabilities include both mine warfare and other coastal combat forces, and sea-based theater missile defence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘China has also been critical of the planned theater missile defense system to be jointly researched by Japan and the U.S.’
      • ‘These include theater missile defense systems to protect troops and bases in relatively small regions of conflicts.’
      • ‘The Russian proposal was made in response to U.S. national missile defense plans including the U.S. and Japanese theater missile defense concept.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But it is not a tactical and theater missile threat that has formed the focus of National Missile Defense.’
      • ‘Rice was suggesting Japan and the U.S. step up cooperation on joint research on the 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.’


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