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An act is a division or unit of a theatre work, including a play, film, opera, and musical theatre. The number of acts in a theatrical work can range from one to five or more, depending on how the writer structures the story. The duration of an act usually ranges from 30 to 90 minutes, but may be as short as 10 minutes.
The word act can also be used for major sections of other entertainment, such as variety shows, television programs, music hall performances, and cabaret.
“All the world’s a stage” is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, spoken by the melancholy Jaques in Act II Scene VII. The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and catalogues the seven stages of a man’s life, sometimes referred to as the seven ages of man infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, Pantalone and old age, facing imminent death. It is one of Shakespeare’s most frequently quoted passages.