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What is "Cheating Out"?

By September 9, 2008

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Drama class and theater rehearsals are some of the only places where "cheating" is encouraged. No, I'm not talking about cheating on a test. When an actor "cheats out" they position themselves towards the audience.

Very often, when an actor is rehearsing on stage, they might turn their back to the audience, or offer only a limited view. The director then might say, "Cheat out, please."

To "Cheat Out" means that the performer readjusts his or her body so that the audience gains a better view. This might mean that the actors stand in a way that's not quite natural -- which is why it cheats reality just a bit. But at least the audience will be able to see and hear the performer!


January 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(1) Hannah McNaughton says:

I don’t agree with this definition, so here is a British theatre student’s opinion–

“Cheating out” was created by in 18th Century London, and is an acting style. It involves the actor performing an ‘aside’ out to the audience, by breaking the “Fourth Wall” and telling the audience his/her real point of view. This was popular in the late 18th Century and examples of writing for actors of this style can be found in R.B. Sheridan’s works such as or . The plays would usually involve deception of some kind and were often comedies. I agree that the actor uses an unrealistic acting style and that this is where the term arises, however the technique was used and written for to suggest that the character is deceiving his/her fellow characters and only the audience knows his/her true intentions.

December 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm
(2) Jordan says:

That is not cheating out… The first definition is correct. I am also a college theatre student. What you, Hannah, defined is an aside not cheating out.

May 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm
(3) Adam Mohr says:

If you cheat out you;re a lousy actor that know nothing about theatre or acting..sorry to hear you wasted all your money on a degree that is gonna get you know where in good theatre..

June 8, 2012 at 4:12 am
(4) A.B. says:

And with that grammar and spelling, Adam, I question if any money at all was spent on your degree.
I have a degree from Northwestern and have been acting in film, television and theater for over 25 years. Whatever its’ origins, “cheat out” is now used in all three mediums as a direction to the actor to turn his/her body toward the audience or camera so that his/her face can be seen, even if it to do so feels unnatural. A director may ask you to “cheat” out or right or left or in any direction; this is especially common for film directors adjusting a scene for camera angles. Simply translated, to “cheat” means to “adjust”. As is the case with many theatrical terms, it has evolved in its application. “Sides”,which now refers to the portion of a script or teleplay that actors audition with or use for one day of shooting, is a term that comes from “asides” as described by Hannah above, but no longer means the same thing. Hannah may be correct in terms of origin, but when directors today say “cheat out”, the actors do not respond by deceiving one another or performing an aside.This is the 21st century and Wade is spot on. “Nuff said.

February 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm
(5) imahighschoolfreshmenhaha! says:

These kind of people are the ones Mr.Kiley was warning us about. so Adam, do you really believe that being in a position where the audience can see you better, is bad acting? u sir are so unbelievably ignorant.

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