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curtain raiser

a short play preceding a main play.
any preliminary event or performance.
Origin of curtain raiser
1885-90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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curtain raiser

Preliminary event, as in This limited attack on the chairman is just a curtain raiser for the concerted effort to oust him. This term literally refers to a short play or skit presented before the main theatrical production. It began to be transferred to other preliminaries about 1940.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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