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Prompter box on a natural stage
Prompt book for the Mannheim premiere of Schiller's drama “ Die Räuber ”, 1782
Political caricature 1893. The politician Georges Clemenceau juggling finances is prompted.

A prompter or a prompter (of French. Souffler "whisper, breathe," ital. Suggeritore "prompter") in the designated theater a person who is reading during a performance the roles whisper to the performers to signal inserts and tell them about "hanger" (forgotten text) to help out.

Working method

Traditional way of working

The prompter often stands or sits in the prompter box, which is embedded in the center of the stage below the ramp in the stage floor. He cannot be seen from the auditorium and even the actors only recognize the prompter's eyes in a narrow, mostly wooden box that is only about 25 cm high and is only open to the stage. Since the prompter only speaks in a low voice or even whispers, he can be understood by the actors, but not by the audience. In many places the prompt box is no longer used. The prompter sits sometimes on the side stage and sometimes in the first row of the auditorium. Depending on the distance from the respective position, he speaks softly to the stage or prompts in this direction using a microphone and loudspeaker.

In the time of oil and gas lighting in the theater, i.e. in the 18th and 19th centuries, the prompter was also responsible for the spotlight as a lighting technician by regulating the brightness and changing filters.

Modern way of working

Today there is also prompting by radio. The actors wear a small receiver in their ears, the prompter box is then superfluous and noise is reduced. This technique has been in use for a long time in many larger theaters, such as B. in the Vienna Burgtheater .

Music theater versus acting

In music theater , the field of activity and the responsibility of the prompter is much greater than in acting. The maestro suggeritore in Italian tradition is even a kind of co-conductor. Good prompts direct individual passages from the prompter's box and give the singers an appearance . In addition, prompting is done using a different technique than in drama: The respective text beginnings of the musical phrases are prompted almost consistently, with a time delay, much earlier and louder than in drama. This is due on the one hand to the fact that the singer needs more time to process the information together with the learned musical structure, and on the other hand to the fact that the prompter has to drown out the orchestra with his voice so that the audience does not notice it.

In acting - especially in smaller theaters - prompts are often dispensed with today: the longer rehearsal periods allow the actors to be more confident in the text. In music theater, on the other hand, there are often only three stage rehearsals, which was also common in drama well into the 19th century.

The profession of prompter is related to the repertoire in multi-part theater , in which there are often no longer series of performances, which makes the individual performances (in contrast to en-suite theater ) relatively unstable. That is why one tries today in repertoire theater too often for series of performances. In the English and French language areas, where only En-suite game operation is common to the profession is covered the prompter ( prompter often) with the stage manager ( stage manager ) together.


In the opera Capriccio , Richard Strauss has prompter Monsieur Taupe perform tenor.


The word itself comes from French and originally actually meant blower, blower (to souffler = to blow). This term came into the stage language in the 18th century. The prompter used to operate the organ's bellows by hand or with his feet . In the church choir , this used to be an office and the tasks and duties of the prompter included not only worrying about sheet music, utensils, and costumes for the singers, but also about many other, only apparent trivialities, such as the necessary lighting or even board and lodging for the choir , but also about the inevitable learning of the lyrics to the songs.

Other meanings

Even in the current language used prompt for the forward and one Agen, especially in the area of the school (see Cheat Sheet ).


The following story has come down to us from the famous castle actor Raoul Aslan (1945–1948 also director of the Vienna Burgtheater), who often had lyrics and was always dependent on the help of prompter: When asked whether he was not bothered by the audience If the prompter always had to speak to him, he replied: "What does it bother the captain on the bridge when you hear the sound of the propeller!"

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: prompter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. 'I'm a little lightning rod.' Franziska Fischer sits in the front row at every performance - she is the prompter. She prefers not to have to say anything during the performance. In: Neues Deutschland from 17./18. August 2019, p. 32 (detailed discussion about the work of a prompter with Inga Dreyer).
  2. see for example: Robert Blum, Karl Herloßsohn, Hermann Marggraff: General Theater-Lexikon or Encyklopädie everything worth knowing for stage artists, amateurs and theater friends, New Edition, Pierer and Heymann, Alternburg, Leipzig 1846, vol. 6, p. 134.
  4. ^ Duden dictionary of origin, Volume 7, Mannheim 1963, ISBN 3411009071 , page 652
  5. see also Nicolas Gombert # Life and Work