Tiny Theatre Tips #7: Practice, Practice, Practice

Tiny Theatre Tips #7: Practice, Practice, Practice

There’s an old joke in the theatre world that goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.” You may not be trying to get to Carnegie Hall, but no matter what, if you’re an actor-type, you need to practice… and not just during rehearsals.

If you want to succeed at acting, you need to practice on your own time, every day. You can’t just show up to rehearsal and expect to perform at your best. You need to review your lines, your vocal parts, your choreography, your character work — and as often as possible — on your own.

There’s never enough time in rehearsals to get absolutely everything perfected as much as a director would want to, and if you aren’t practicing outside of rehearsal, then your precious rehearsal time is going to be spent re-learning and reviewing stuff you should already know. You can’t move forward and go deep into your character and just generally improve as an actor and performer if you aren’t working and reviewing your stuff frequently. Worse, you’ll be outshone by those people who ARE working hard outside of rehearsal, and you’ll be viewed as a lazy actor who just phones their performances in. You might be a good actor, but don’t just settle for good. Work towards being great.

Focus. Put the work in. Practice, practice, practice.

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Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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5 Items You’ll Need For A New York City Theatre Trip

5 Items You'll Need For A New York City Theatre Trip

I’m heading to New York City in less than a week with the Original Kids Theatre Company, and I’m so excited! This will be my fifth trip to NYC, and my third with OKTC. I’ve already got tickets for Sleep No More and School of Rock, and I’ve got a list of other shows and adventures I want to explore while I’m there!

Before any trip, it’s important to get your things packed and ready to go ahead of time so you aren’t all stressed out before you leave! If you’re specifically going on a trip to immerse yourself in theatre, here are five items you won’t want to leave home without!

1.  Sharpie markers.

Easy to stick in your pocket or purse, and great for getting autographs on your program at the stagedoor after a show. I recommend having three different colours: basic black, a metallic (gold or silver) in case your program has a mostly black cover, and one random, bright colour like red, fuchsia or purple. Avoid yellow at all cost!

2.  A small notebook and pen.

Useful for taking notes, giving notes, getting autographs, making tiny origami on the subway (why not?). It’s just really handy to have.

3.  A bunch of Broadway deals.

Theatre tickets can be expensive, so arm yourself with deals. Playbill.com and Broadwaybox.com can email you deals that you can print out and take to the box office. There are also deals at TKTS booths, lots of apps to find deals (TodayTix is a great one!) and various student and general rush policies, so do some research and get the best deal possible! (As a general note, Disney theatrical shows in New York City such as The Lion King, Aladdin or Mary Poppins tend to have very few, if any, deals available.)

4.  Comfortable shoes.

Get ready to max out your Fitbit. Every single packing list for NYC will say to bring comfortable shoes, and I will echo it. You will walk SO much in NYC and you don’t want to be suffering. From early mornings in line for rush tickets, to late nights in an immersive theatre experience such as Sleep No More or The Grand Paradise, you will walk more in NYC than you will anywhere else. However, do NOT wear flip-flops in NYC, ever, no matter how hot it is, and you’ll probably want to avoid white shoes, because they’ll get filthy fast.

5.  Cash

Honestly, just pack light and bring cash. You can buy literally anything in New York City. If you forgot something, you can easily replace it there. Cash is easier to manage for budgeting (swipe your credit card too much and you’ll just end up crying when you get home), and it’s the most convenient way of buying show swag if you want to buy it!

Leave at home:

  • Enormous suitcases. Just pack less. I’d recommend a duffle bag over a rolling suitcase — you don’t want to be struggling with a massive rolling bag on the subway.
  • Selfie sticks. Gross.
  • Cameras with neck straps. Bring the camera, but leave the strap at home or risk looking like a tourist.
  • Big golf umbrellas. Nobody will be able to walk around you on the sidewalk and you’ll annoy people. If you need an umbrella, get one of those tiny folding ones.
  • Fanny packs. Use a small cross-body purse instead.

What would you put on your NYC packing list?
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Rehearsal Etiquette For Performers (Video Post!)

Rehearsal Etiquette For Performers (Video Post!)

This video is inspired by an older post of mine, Theatre Etiquette: Concerning Rehearsals. My theatre etiquette posts are some of my most popular on this site, so I hope you’ll find this video useful!

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5 Tips To Help Learn Names Quickly

5 Tips To Help Learn Names Quickly

As a director and teacher, one of my first priorities at the beginning of a new session or rehearsal process is to learn everyone’s names as quickly as possible. It makes young actors feel important and that they are a vital part of the team. Here are some tips that I use all the time to help me learn my actors’ names as fast as I can!

1. Take photos at auditions.

At auditions, either ask your actors to submit a photo of themselves, or even better, take photos of each actor holding up a card with their name written on it, police-lineup style. That way you can start putting names to faces.

2. Once your cast is set, study the cast list to familiarize yourself with the names themselves.

If you go into rehearsals knowing that you have, say, Jessica, Kyle, Mary and Stuart, it is less intimidating that trying to remember every name in existence. Granted, most casts have more actors than that, but even learning 30 names is less stressful than trying to recall hundreds of names.

3. At the first rehearsal, have actors introduce themselves, and then you repeat the names out loud.

Muscle memory! At your first rehearsal, have your actors sit in a circle and introduce themselves. Just a simple, “Hi, I’m Amanda,” is all that’s needed. Then you (the teacher/director) will repeat the name out loud to stick it into your brain. After a few people say their names, go back and repeat the names out loud, and then continue around the circle, going back every few actors and repeating the names. For a challenge, after everyone has introduced themselves, go back and try to say all the names in a row. For an even bigger challenge, close your eyes and have your actors change spots in the circle, and then go back and try to identify them again! Like learning lines, repetition is so helpful for memorization.

4. Repeat and use their names.

When answering questions or asking for thoughts, be sure to practice calling on people by name. If you forget their name, get them to say it out loud again before answering, and you repeat it. You could also have them say their name out loud before they answer during the first few classes/rehearsals.

5. Play name games.

Try the ABC Name Game or the Action Name Game, found on this page, or the Silent Line-Up Game, as follows: start by having actors line themselves up across the room WITHOUT SPEAKING from shortest to tallest. See if they can do it in 30 seconds or less. Then, have them repeat the exercise, only this time they must line themselves up in alphabetical order according to first name, again WITHOUT SPEAKING. Once everyone is in place, have each person say their name out loud to check and see if everyone is in the correct spot! Keep a tally between each class you’re teaching or show you’ve directed and see which group is the fastest!

If you forget someone’s name or feel embarrassed for mixing people up, ask the group to be gentle with you, and remind the group that there are ____ of them and only one of you and you’re trying your best! It happens to everyone. You will get there!

What are your best tips for learning names quickly?
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Tiny Theatre Tips #6: Support Other Artists

Welcome to Tiny Theatre Tips, a series of brief posts sharing tips and advice for your theatre life! Enjoy!

Tiny Theatre Tips #6: Support Other Artists

Tiny Theatre Tips #6: Support Other Artists

What do all artists, no matter their discipline, always need? (Other than to get paid… I’ll get to that in a minute!)

They need an audience. They need consumers for their art. They need people to see their shows, buy their paintings, listen to their music, read their books. They need people to know about their upcoming gigs. They need people to share their social media posts. They need to be seen and heard and talked about.

That’s where you come in, dear reader.

I bet you’ve got a project on the horizon. You’ve got a show in rehearsals, or a book about to launch, or a gallery showing, or a new piece of choreography about to be unleashed upon the world. I bet you’d love it if someone reached out and told you, “What you do is awesome. Other people need to know about your awesomeness.”

Why don’t you be that person for someone?

Do you have friends, family members, or even an artist you don’t know but admire the heck out of? Do them a solid and support them. Buy their art. Listen to their music. Put up posters advertising their upcoming performance. See as many live performances as you can. Tweet, share, like and heart all their social media. Write a blog post about them. Interview them on your podcast. Tell everyone you know how awesome this artist friend is. Get the word out. Help them to earn those dolla bills! Don’t just limit yourself to artists in your niche either. Support it all — from circus performers to slam poets to Irish dancers to sculptors to tattoo artists, and everything in between.

And then you know what will happen?

People will start to do that for you too.

Share. Be a supporter and advocate of the arts. Put yourself out there. Get the word out. The world needs more art!

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Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo

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