Tag Archives: Collaboration

And STILL more things that will happen at rehearsal…

The score won’t match…

When doing a MUSICAL…. or even a Play with Music… I promise you that whatever they have said in the script or written in the score – IF there IS a score… will not match any of the following…

a) the CD

b) the current script

c) the director’s vision

e) all of the above

Add to that… the cd won’t match…anything. Frequently it is a concept CD and that means it is very, VERY different from the production you are doing. The production that got altered before Broadway, before the Tour, after the Tour and before the release to amateur companies. It will be extremely different. Don’t count on it – in fact… the best advice is don’t use it. At best it is a basic, simple reference. Move on.

The script will NOT make sense… why would it? I mean, you paid for it, so it should… but believe me, it won’t. There will be typos for sure, but then there will also be ridiculous stage directions – that can only be done on MASSIVE Broadway budgets – and even then they are probably stupid stage directions, so Ignore them and do your own thing. Aside from that… there will be lines attributed to the wrong character or a missing character or someone you didn’t know was in the show… (seriously… ALL of these have happened in shows for which I have paid royalties to perform “their script word for word”) There may EVEN be stage directions that appear as dialogue… yup.

$h!t will be missing… Like a song you expected… or a character in the description list will be missing from the show… or an ENTIRE scene.. yup, once a script went from scene 7 to 9. We all wondered “What happened in Scene 8?”

Here’s the thing…. you roll with the punches, you do what is necessary to create your vision, you IGNORE the stage directions – and if possible, get your cast to ignore them as well and you make the best show you can. Even if it means you have to tweak a few things. Tweak away and get that show done!

 

Even more things that will happen in rehearsal….

So… You are into rehearsal and things seem to be going well – or are they?

Sometimes this happens… you think everyone’s happy, but they aren’t. And they aren’t telling you. There can be lots of reasons for this, and there’s actually no point going into all those reasons, cause you’ll never list them all, but the point is – you need to have your Spidey-Sense tingling so that you are aware if there are disgruntled members of your cast/crew. You might not be able to do anything about it – but awareness is the key.

Illness can do it. If they feel sick, or tired or worn out or under-appreciated, (or any other version of illness that you can imagine), that can affect their mood and contribution to the project. Remember, any show should be uplifting, not a drag, no matter whether it is professional or amateur/volunteer. If someone is coming to the process and for whatever reason, they’d rather not be there, that will affect the positive atmosphere. Be ready to question it, and then, be ready to do something to affect change. That can be hard part. But, believe me, it’s worth it!

Lots of things can contribute to the atmosphere, and while it may seem like a big deal, you do need to pay attention to, and manage, the atmosphere. Plan an outing, arrange a potluck, ask people out for drinks or bring in some snacks. Even the smallest thing can make a really big difference, so do the little stuff, cause it can help you in the long run.

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Things that will happen during the rehearsal process…

When you start a show, you have happy thoughts about the final product… how the show will be a HUGE hit, the tickets will be selling like hotcakes, (why do hotcakes sell so fast anyway?), and the cast and crew will be ready to go on tour for the rest of their lives.

But here’s the thing… stuff happens. It always does.

Some of it you can deal with, but much of it you cannot. You just have to be ready for it because “it” will happen. So, what do you do?

Well, first off… you need to know what might happen, so here’s a few ideas of what you can expect.

First of all… the cast you begin with is likely not going to be the cast who will finish. Someone will get sick, get married, be transferred, get a new job, get another show, move out of town, or just be disgruntled with the production and leave. It will happen. There is probably no way to be prepared for it, but you need to know that it will happen and often with the actor that you don’t expect to lose. Audition, choose the best, treat them well and cross your fingers that nothing happens in their life to mess up the process. But be ready – cause it will.

Secondly… people will get sick. They will have conflicts with the schedule – sometimes many more than you ever thought possible – or they’ll have something big happen in their life and it will mess up your schedule. Just be ready – that’s all you can do. It isn’t their fault. They didn’t make this happen. They’d probably rather be at rehearsal than dealing with pneumonia or going to a funeral or visiting emergency. Stay calm and trust the theatre gods that they are on your side.

Third… you are going to get tired. No matter your plan, no matter how well you manage the other parts of your life – YOU – the stage manager, the director – whatever you are, are completely human and susceptible to fatigue. It will happen. Be good to yourself and take the time you need to recover because you are useless to the show if you get sick or can’t function.

That’s the big deal, right? Staying on top of things. So be ready. Get yourself psyched so that you are ready for the challenges of the process – cause it is totally worth it.

I promise.

Ghostlight

How to recover from the audition… Cause you have to bounce back.

When you’ve made it through the auditions, the callbacks, perhaps another round of callbacks and maybe a surprise where they ask you to read something you weren’t expecting… you then have to reflect on the process – and you will, because you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. (You’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?)

First of all, you need to feel proud of what you accomplished, no matter the outcome. Maybe you’ve been successful and got the “part of your dreams”, or maybe you got offered a different role, or perhaps you are still waiting to hear, (that’s the worst), or the final option… we know what that one is, of course. Regardless, you’ve got to congratulate yourself. I mean it. Do it now. Give yourself a pat on the back, the audition process is one of the most difficult things you can do and you need to recognize that you did something many people never do. So, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Good. Do that for yourself regularly – because when you audition, you get a show, (or not) and then, eventually, the show is over, so you know what? You audition again. So you have to put yourself through that again. You will get better at it, each time – it all takes practice. Keep it up, keep working on the audition process and remember to congratulate yourself every time you manage to make it through another audition. Find something good in the process or you won’t keep going. And that’s the most important thing, to keep going.

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Some thoughts for people holding auditions… (make your job easier)

Auditions are HARD!!! For EVERYONE!!!

People always think about the folks up there showing they can sing, dance, act or whatever… but it is just as hard and nerve-wracking for the people who are casting the show – the ones who supposedly, “hold all the cards!” It isn’t easier on that side of the table at all!

Here’s a few tidbits of advice from my experiences….

1) TELL PEOPLE!!! What’s the point of auditions if no one knows you are having them? You need a lot of people for any show – even a simple little two hander. You want choice, right? You want selection? You want word of mouth? TELL PEOPLE! Don’t hold secret auditions. Don’t have them on a tough weekend, like a holiday or when the super sale at the mall starts… pick a good time – far enough in the future and PROMOTE IT!

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2) Tell people what the show IS! Sure it might have a title they recognize, but maybe it is a different version, or maybe you are planning to set it post-apocolyptic, (please don’t), or maybe you want TWICE as many actors as normal… if you don’t TELL THEM…. they won’t come.

3) Hold the auditions at convenient times. Evenings and Weekends work for community theatre – and make sure to mix that up. Don’t do just a weekend or just the evenings. Give people multiple chances to get out to see you. You need them, don’t you?

4) DON’T hold the auditions too far away from the show. You are only hurting yourself. If your show is in December, seriously, what is the point of auditions in January? So much can happen to people in between the time of the audition and when rehearsals start. Heck, they might even forget they are in your show! About 4-5 months before your show is fine, with rehearsals starting shortly after you cast it – but remember, if they don’t know about it, it doesn’t matter when you hold the auditions.

5) TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE!!! If it is singing – tell them what style. Provide examples if you can. Do they need to dance? Tell them. Be ready to teach that. Do you want a monologue? Comedy routine? Improv sessions? Don’t be afraid to shake it up and do something different – just be ready to answer their questions – cause they’ll have them!

6) Make your requests make sense for the show. Don’t ask for a WICKED inspired power ballad if you are doing a Shakespeare, and if the show is comedic, what IS the point of a classical monologue? Seriously, know what you are looking for when you prepare that audition statement.

7) Sit down with your team and discuss your dream cast. When I say dream cast – I mean it. Dream big! Who would you cast from all time of all the famous actors you and your team know? Build that EPIC cast list, (with options) and know what it is you are hoping to see walk through that door. Be ready though – cause it just might! OR – even more exciting – something you didn’t expect will show up and knock your socks off!!! Be ready for that.

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8) Prepare your banter. Know what you plan to say to each candidate and be ready with that. Have questions. Read their sheets/resumes/questionnaires. They took the time to come out and fill out those forms, have something you’d like to know about them. Be curious. Be genuinely interested in them because they are genuinely interested in you and your project. It’s the least you can do.

9) Be ready for the hard decisions. Here’s where it gets tough. The person you thought would really “bring it” might not. The unexpected will happen. Be prepared with challenges for your actors so you can know who is really going to deliver and make the project exactly what you want it to be. Don’t waste their time. They are there, working in front of you and delivering their level best. Challenge them. Have the callback materials ready – KNOW what you want to see. Then have the guts to make the tough decision and stick by it. Whatever happens. It isn’t easy. Art is never easy.

10) This should really be the FIRST thing you do… and I shouldn’t even have to put it here, but I do, cause you’d be surprised…. READ THE SCRIPT. Read it again. And then read it a third time. Make sure EVERYONE on your team has a copy. And do your best to give them time to read it. Discuss it. Have questions ready. Solve problems with it before you even audition. And if, for some strange reason, you don’t have the script and you are heading into auditions… what are you doing? Wait. Get the script. Read it. It’s the only way to be certain you are ready for the project and your people who are investing their time are also ready.

These are just a FEW tips. Do you have more? Mention them in the comments below.

Podcast #17 with Special Guests Ceris Thomas & Kerry Hishon!

Well here we are again….

Life gets busy and takes us away from things we’d like to share with you, our listeners. But today, Kerry Hishon and I are here to talk about things that inspire us, things that we love and the struggle to keep those things going when life gets busy.

Since you last heard from us the team has done a variety of exciting things… We’ve directed and performed in a bunch of shows, made puppets, created art, some of us moved house, just a whole bunch of creative things that kept us from this creative thing.

But we love doing the podcast so much, so we are back again and we have a plan in place to keep us coming back… so we are hoping that you will continue to tune in and tell us what you think.

We’ve missed you. See you soon.

Play

The Joy of Accomplishment – yours AND others.

So, the final show in my long list of shows has opened. Avenue Q had it’s first preview on Thursday and Opening on Friday.  It was great. Really, truly great. The performers have worked so hard and paid so much attention to the details of puppet manipulation. They developed such strong characters and worked diligently to find ways to let the puppet be the star. It isn’t an easy thing for a performer to do – have you ever thought of that? A piece of felt on your hand needs to get all the attention and applause and adoration that you would normally get. The thing is, once they got the hang of giving the puppet the focus, the overal performances improved exponentially. There has to be a lesson in there, somewhere. Something about relinquishing control, or giving over to a higher power, or letting the show be more important than you are… I’m sure there are several lessons in there. I’m just glad they learned them.

I’m not too proud to admit that at certain points in the show, I well up. Not because the story is so moving, but because the puppetry is so moving. These performers picked up felt and fur only a few weeks ago and we spent time working on manipulation, eye focus, lip sync, character, breath, gravity and all of that sort of stuff that makes a piece of fur on your hand suddenly seem to come alive. Also, we had the great privilege of having a guest come to one of their final rehearsals to offer some pearls of wisdom – did you ever watch Fraggle Rock? Zoboomafoo? Well then, you know that the guest we had was someone of influence with these young actors. They took his words to heart. As I always do – and I hope he gets the chance to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s pretty miraculous.

If you get a chance…. go see it. Be prepared to well up… if you know how hard it is to learn to puppeteer. Or not, just well up cause it’s good. And worth it. Go.
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First Preview Night

So… we’ve made it through tech weekend – pretty near flawlessly.

We survived our black out in the middle of dress rehearsal last night and now we are at First Audience. My theatre does something we call Community Preview where at our Final Dress Rehearsal we invite, for free, members of our community who would not otherwise attend the theatre. They come in groups, because they are all members of groups – special homes, they have care-givers or case workers, etc. They mostly know one another – and yet they all sit spread through the theatre. It’s fascinating. Our house seats over 350 and tonight I see about 100 folks spread throughout the house, but they are all talking to one another – some across the rows and some from the back to the front of the theatre. It should be a lively night.

Two years ago, at our Community Preview for The Three Musketeers (the first in my Ken Ludwig Trilogy), near the end Milady was about to poison Constance with a beverage she said would calm her nerves. Someone in the audience yelled out, “Don’t Drink It!” They are a fun crowd and anything can happen.

Tomorrow night is Preview and then Friday is Opening Night! Months and Months and Months of rehearsal and it will all be over in the blink of an eye…. But that’s part of why it’s so addictive. The payoff is, generally huge enough to balance the effort.

I know I’m going to enjoy the payoff of this piece.

Here’s to a successful run!

Break your legs!

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Cue to Cue…. standing by….

Today is setting all the lights and sound cues for the show. I really enjoy this process. It’s another one of those phases that feels tedious, but once it is complete, you’ve added so much to the overall look and feel of the show.

When you have an expert team as well, then the whole thing can be very entertaining and fulfilling. As my wonderful lighting designer builds each cue, I see dimensions of the set that weren’t apparent before. It is truly amazing what coloured light shone from different directions can do for furniture, paintings and costumes. Not to mention how different people look when light isn’t florescent.

As we work through each cue it constantly amazes me how people will work to their utmost when given the chance to try out their ideas. Any show will progress a great deal during this process, the actors are so focused in helping their tech team to practice and perfect their changes that I find their performances become even more focused than before. And of course the tech team is so focused as they know that they have a very limited amount of time to get their work perfected.

It’s all so very exciting. Isn’t it? If you’ve never experienced it, you need to do so.

Join us, next time… won’t you?

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Here comes Tech Weekend!

There was a palpable energy in the theatre when I entered tonight. The cast was a buzz, the musicians were all present and the load in of some more last minute pieces were happening. More painting had happened, costumes were arriving and more details were being added to them. I’d stopped at Fabricland to pick up foam to repair a piece of furniture and all seemed to be on schedule. There was nothing particularly special about this night… but there’s something undeniable about the last rehearsal before tech. No matter how tired actors may be, they always want to give that little bit more in this rehearsal as they seem to realize that the focus for the next little while will be elsewhere – other parts of the show are needed to be brought up to snuff, really, really quickly in order to match all of their months of efforts.

Personally, I know it is one of my last chances to give my people on stage any more advice that I have left to improve their performances and I’m always reluctant to let go of the whole project, even though I know it is completely necessary and part of the process. It’s a very draining and energizing process at the same time.

Our production is a show within a show – a backstage story that examines the beginning and middle and end of things. That’s always the way of life, isn’t it? One thing starts and another ends… Just as my job is almost done, the show opens. Just when actors memorize their lines, the characters come to life. The performance itself has a beginning a middle and an end – each character in the story does as well. We cycle through it all and experience each phase.

Even productions as a whole… we finish one show, celebrate it’s ending with a cast party… take a little break and then begin the next one.

That’s the key, isn’t it – relishing the process and each phase along the way. It moves quickly, so you’ve got to pay attention, or you’ll miss it.

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