Green room

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In show business, the green room is the space in a theatre, studio or similar venue which accommodates performers not yet required on stage. The green room functions as a waiting room and lounge for performers before and after a performance, and during the show when they are not engaged onstage.

The origin of the term is often ascribed to such rooms historically being painted green,[1][2] yet the modern "green room" is usually not green at all.[3][4][5]

Source of the term[edit]

The specific origin of the term is lost to history, which has led to many imaginative theories and claims. One story is that London's Blackfriars Theatre (1599) included a room behind the scenes; this room happened to be painted green; here the actors waited to go on stage; and it was called "the green room." Some English theatres contained several green rooms, each ranked according to the status and the salary of the actor: one could be fined for using a green room above one's station.[6][7]

Historical attributions of the term[edit]

Some theories have attempted to identify specific historical origins for the term. For example:

"Tiring house", "scene-room" and "green room"[edit]

QUINCE: Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake our tiring-house; and we will do it in action as we will do it before the duke.

Midsummer Night's Dream (approx 1595) - Act 3 Scene 1

...she took us up into the Tireing-rooms and to the women's Shift, where Nell was dressing herself and...then below into the Scene-room, I read the Qu's (cues) to Knepp while she answered me, through all her part of Flora's Figarys...


Folk etymology[edit]

In addition to the preceding explanations, the term green room has also been attributed to numerous alternative folk etymologies, including the following:

Other meanings[edit]

Unusual events[edit]


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, William Morris editor, 1971
  2. ^ Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Millennium Edition, revised by Adrian Room, 1999
  3. ^ Academy Awards green room decor (not green) Architectural Digest March 2009
  4. ^ Primetime Emmy greenroom Architectural Digest, November 2009
  5. ^ Architectural Digest-June 2008-"A Winning Design for Oscar"
  6. ^ a b c The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre, edited by Phyllis Hartnoll, Oxford University Press, 1972, pg 220
  7. ^ Old theatre days and ways By William John Lawrence via Google Books quoting in turn An Actor's Notebook by George Vandenhoff
  8. ^ Voices from the World of Samuel Pepys By Jonathan Bastable pg 111, David and Charles Limited (2007) via Google Books
  9. ^ a b The life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. By James Boswell, Mowbray Morris, pg 122, via Google Books Boswell
  10. ^ a b c d
  11. ^ a b World Wide Words website
  12. ^ Oxford English Dictionary as cited at Word origins .org
  13. ^ Word website
  14. ^ Brontë, Charlotte, Villette, Dover, 2007, pp. 112 and 119.
  15. ^ On the Stage--and Off: the brief career of a would-be-actor, Jerome K. Jerome, pg 74-75, via Internet Archive [1]
  16. ^ Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, Millenium Edition, Revised by Adrian Room
  17. ^ Straight Dope website
  18. ^ De
  19. ^ Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms at
  20. ^ Ford, Chad (June 18, 2011). "NBA issues 'green room' invitations". Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Top Prospects Invited to Attend WNBA Draft" (Press release). Women's National Basketball Association. April 6, 2011. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Surfing glossary
  24. ^ Green Room theatre website
  25. ^ Charles Macklin article at Theatre
  26. ^