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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Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

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

Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

Tiny Theatre Tips #4: Fitness For Actors

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer or medical professional. It is strongly recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise or fitness program!

Acting is an incredibly physical undertaking. Frequent rehearsals (often late into the night) and multiple performances each week can take a toll on your body. Not to mention actors often have to perform highly physical acts — anything from singing and dancing to stage combat and stunt work to tumbling, running, jumping, squatting, leaping, and many other feats of physicality. And of course, actors need to fit into their costumes, which could be tight, short, transparent, a combination of all three, or even less (hello, Rocky Horror Show).

It’s important for actors to be physically fit; not just to look good onstage and to fit into their costumes (both of which are vital!), but also to be able to maintain the stamina to complete their shows each day, and to feel good. There is nothing worse than feeling crummy and having to drag yourself through a rehearsal — everything just feels that much more difficult. Or worse, trying to power through a performance when you’re feeling less than your best. Staying physically fit can help actors to look and feel their best each day.

What kind of exercise is best for actors? That depends on the actor, and the role they are playing! Dancers and stage combatants need to practice their craft (generally through classes and/or private training). Depending on what kind of role you are playing, you will need to look the part. An actor playing a professional wrestler would have to have a very different physique than an actor portraying a cancer patient, or an elderly person, or an animal. Your director can advise exactly what sort of look they think the character would have, and a physician or personal trainer can devise a fitness plan to help you achieve the look you want.

However, I believe any actor can benefit from a combination of cardiovascular exercise (running, swimming, biking, rollerblading and so on) to improve stamina, as well as strength training (don’t worry, you won’t turn into The Rock if you lift weights!) with some yoga thrown in for good measure (I think EVERYONE can benefit from yoga), to help maintain a healthy body and active lifestyle. Even 15 minutes a day is better than nothing!

Exercise is proven to make you feel better, relieve stress, and help you sleep better. I don’t see any downsides!

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The Three Tools Every Actor Has At Their Disposal (No Storage Necessary!)

The Three Tools Every Actor Has At Their Disposal (No Storage Necessary!)

Every skill, trade and art has their own tools. Painters have their brushes; carpenters have their hammers; stylists have their scissors. While actors do have physical toolkits, they also have three tools at their disposal at all times — no baggage necessary! What are those tools? I’m so glad you asked!

Your Body (including your face)

Actors use their bodies to shape their characters, to move around the space, and to perform skills such as dance choreography, stage combat, tumbling, puppetry and more. Actors use their faces to express the emotions that their character is feeling. Actors’ bodies and faces can be used as canvasses for incredible costumes and gorgeous makeup, or to carry in fabulous props. Bodies can be used in tableau scenes to create atmosphere and transform the stage into a living thing.

Your Voice

An actor’s voice can be used to express their innermost thoughts through monologue, or soar through a gorgeous aria or ballad. Actors can create sound effects and soundscapes through their voices. A whisper or a shout used effectively can pull an audience in and have them eating out of the palm of your hand.

Your Imagination (mind, brain, thoughts, creativity…)

Imagination brings the body and the voice together. As performing artists, we are only limited by our imaginations. I’m betting someone reading this just thought “And budgets!” and to that I say — some of the most incredible performances I’ve seen were nothing more than an actor in an open space, performing their heart out. Imagination trumps budget every time.

Your imagination turns you from just a person to any character you could conceive of. Your imagination can create worlds. Your imagination takes your body and voice and combines (or removes one of them!) to create different kinds of theatre. Take away the body and create a soundscape. Take away the voice and create a mime or tableau scene. Or use all three tools to create something entirely different and fascinating!

What will you create with your actor’s tools?
Share your ideas with me on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!

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2015: The Year in Review!

2015: The Year in Review!

2015 was an insane year. Looking back on it, I can’t believe how much I squashed into it. It’s been wonderful to look back on it though, and recall all the awesomeness that happened this year! So read on to find out my highlights of 2015 — theatrically, professionally, and personally!

If you’re curious, check out my reviews of 2014 and 2013.

2015: The Year in Review!

January

I started off January with a wonderful new acquisition: my dad bought me a car! I used that car to meet up with my friends Lizz and Nicole in person for the first time. This was the first time I had ever met online friends “in real life” and I’m so glad that I’ve met these lovely ladies! (We’ll be getting together again on January 3 to celebrate our one-year “friend-iversary”!) I started rehearsals for Nancy Drew: Girl Detective. I finally got my play, Inspector Noble and the Figure in Black, edited and available to purchase! I got to substitute teach a musical theatre class at Dance Extreme, which was a super-fun experience.

One of the highlights of the month was winning a scholarship to join the Badass Babes Blog Club + Ecourse! I’ve admired Sarah Morgan for a long time and it has been an awesome opportunity to learn from her and the lovely ladies who are part of the club!

I attended the Brickenden Awards with my theatre peeps — didn’t win, but it was fun to dress up! I saw The Eyes of Heaven at the Palace Theatre, and wrapped up the month attending Art Fidler’s retirement party at OKTC, which was a gala to behold!

2015: The Year in Review!

February

February began with shadowing Brock while he taught stage combat for Lucas S.S.’s production of Macbeth (and taught some high school guys how to exit properly in a kilt!). I performed some scripts for the London Playwright’s Lab, and recorded TLTDay’s Podcast #17 with Ceris. Shawn and I celebrated our friend Andrew’s birthday at a “Halloween in February” party, which was lots of fun (even though Shawn dressed up in a couples’ costume with his friend Kody instead of me!).

I got the chance to choreograph violence for Disney’s Beauty & the Beast Jr. for the LYTE program, which was a lot of fun. Speaking of lots of fun, I took Shawn to see The Pretty Reckless and Nickelback in concert, and they played my favourite Foo Fighters song, Everlong, as an encore!

2015: The Year in Review!

March

To challenge ourselves, Ceris and I created the #Top10Challenge Instagram project! It was a lot of fun, and it was so great to see people’s interpretation of our prompts. I think we should bring this back in 2016!

March is my birthday month, and Shawn and I spent my 32nd birthday weekend roadtripping to Toronto (what better excuse to go on a roadtrip?), where we saw The Heart of Robin Hood (SO GOOD) and went to Medieval Times yet again. I will never get sick of going to Medieval Times! I love travelling so much!

2015: The Year in Review!

April

The birthday celebrations weren’t over though! In April, I had a triple-belated-birthday party with my Nan and stepbrother Derrick. Hooray for parties! I saw Jesus Christ Superstar at the McManus Theatre. I choreographed violence again, this time for Jane Eyre: The Musical for OKTC.

Nancy Drew: Girl Detective performed as part of OKTC’s annual PlayFest, and I operated the sound board for the first time in my life! It was terrifying, but I survived, and now I can add “sound operator” to my resume! Nancy Drew won a whole bunch of awards at the PlayFest Awards, including the Post-Curtain Award and Most Creative Use of a Blackbox Space!

Less than a week after Nancy Drew closed, we started rehearsals for The Big Bad Musical! (It never stops, right?) I also filmed a promotional video for Dixie Outlet Mall, where I got to chase a $20 bill down the street!

2015: The Year in Review!

May

In May, Shawn and I officially became homeowners! Much of May was spent learning about home ownership, being domestic, and seeing movies. I also had an adventure in Stratford with Nicole and Lizz where we shopped, pulled tarot cards, and saw the most adorable group of baby ducks at the Avon River!

2015: The Year in Review!

June

June brought lots of adventures! Shawn and I went to a stag & doe party for our friends Aaron and Amanda, where Shawn won his weight in booze and a Shop-Vac. June in London is the start of summer festival season, and I enjoyed the London Fringe Festival, the Dundas Street Festival, and Nuit Blanche! I also travelled to Toronto to see a Blue Jays game with Shawn, Kendryth and Andrew.

Guess what — more stage combat! I choreographed violence for American Idiot for OKTC Alumni (and drank a teeny-tiny Starbucks). I also started my interview column, Theatre Talk, on the blog!

I was really excited to attend the Oxford Renaissance Festival with Lizz and Nicole, and we had an absolute blast, despite the fact that it poured rain all day! I also attended Shawn’s cousin’s bridal shower with the Clark women, where I won more prizes (woohoo!), and then spent some much-needed relaxation time at Shawn’s parents’ trailer.

2015: The Year in Review!

July

One of my goals this year was to make more blogging connections, and in July I had a coaching call with the awesome Stephanie Shar. She’s super nice and motivated, and gave me tons of great advice! #bosslady (She also interviewed me on The Loudmouth Lifestyle!)

I had a fun time at the Home County Festival with my friends Kihanna and Mel, and ate an enormous burrito and cherry lemonade (and didn’t get sick!). Kihanna and I got beautiful necklaces with the moon phases of the dates we were born — a super cool souvenir of a great day!

On top of all that, The Big Bad Musical opened! (Also, this happened and I died a little. Of happiness, of course.)

2015: The Year in Review!

August

More adventures in August! Shawn and I went to another Blue Jays game, as well as two weddings in one weekend! Both brides were named Amanda. One wedding had a photobooth. (#weddinggoals — that’s my one regret from my own wedding, not having a photobooth.)

I saw Norm Foster’s Outlaw at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia with Brock, and then went to my friend Joe’s birthday party! Lizz, Nicole and I took to the road again for a fun day trip to Port Stanley to read tarot cards and start my Wreck This Journal. I also started rehearsals for The Conchologist, where I played one of my most challenging roles to date, “Monkey Sir the Orangutan.”

2015: The Year in Review!

September

September marked the beginning of OKTC’s 25th anniversary year celebration with The Great Kick-Off, where I met my 60 new The Actor Grows (T.A.G.) students. I started teaching T.A.G. classes later that month, which was a bit nerve-wracking at the beginning, since I hadn’t ran the program since 2012, but it quickly became old hat again. I also enjoyed sunshine and local artists at the #MyDundas street festival.

On the blog front, I had an awesome Skype chat with Lindsay, Craig and Ally from Theatrefolk! Theatrefolk is one of THE biggest theatre blogs going, and I was thrilled to get to chat with them — more to come about that very soon!

Apparently I wasn’t satisfied with just teaching and acting, so I added a third big project to my fall — I helped out at auditions and started rehearsals for The Trials of Robin Hood, where I was assistant fight director, and met my new minion, Dustin, who took over my previous role of fight captain.

2015: The Year in Review!

October

It’s official — I opened my Gumroad online store! I celebrated my grandparents‘ 60th wedding anniversary with my family, and enjoyed my one weekend off all fall (!!!) at my grandparents’ trailer.

After Thanksgiving, we performed The Conchologist at the ARTS Project, where I got my own rope swing! I voted in the federal election, and my mom decorated our house for Halloween.

2015: The Year in Review!

November

I’m an author! I published my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Theatre Etiquette. Stage combat work in November included choreographing violence for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and teaching sword safety for The Tempest, both at OKTC, as well as choreographing a GIANT mêlée for TORH with what seemed like over half the cast. I also taught an improv workshop for United Way London & Middlesex. More blogging outreach came in the form of a phone chat with Jennifer from Theaterish.com!

I participated in the London Santa Claus Parade with the cast and crew of TORH (where we met a llama), and tried archery for the first time and quickly became obsessed. My mom and I made two kinds of muffins, two kinds of soup, and baked mac & cheese.

My second major accomplishment of November was participating in, and winning NaNoWriMo. I went slightly crazy in the process, and I’m not sure if I’ll do it again, but I’m so glad I did it this year.

2015: The Year in Review!

December

More stage combat? Of course! I advised on violence for Sweeney Todd: School Edition at OKTC. I also hosted the four T.A.G. showcases at OKTC (and received some lovely gifts). We announced the OKTC Spring 2016 season, and I announced my twelfth directing project at OKTC, Disney’s Tarzan.

The Trials of Robin Hood opened to much excitement! The cast and crew played archery tag for the first time and I quickly became obsessed. We had a mini 3M reunion. I also became a lady of the realm (for a second time… the first was back in 2014). What a great experience, with a great group of people.

2015: The Year in Review!

In 2015, I wrote 111 posts and I got over 110,000 hits on the site! I published a play and an ebook. I directed two shows, acted in a show and a commercial, did stage combat work for a whole bunch of shows and taught 60 new students! I made tons of new friends and made tons of new memories.

2015, you were an amazing year. 2016, I can’t wait to start fresh with you!


 

Photo Credit: Big Bad Musical photo – Kihanna Becke; all other photos – Kerry Hishon

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The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

It’s been quiet around these parts, as I have been going back and forth this month between Robin Hood performances, three different Christmas celebrations with friends and family, and (most thankfully) REST with all caps. It’s been a whirlwind of a year.

I always find that December is a month for reflection. It’s been wonderful to go through the archives and look at everything I’ve written and done this year. Coming up this week will also be a Year in Review post as well as the last Linktastic for the year. I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store.

As always, thank you so much for your support this year. I am so very thankful for my friends, family, and blog readers — you mean the world to me.

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

Advice, Tips and Tricks

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

By The Numbers

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

Theatre Talk

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

2015 Projects

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

Everything Else

The Best of 2015 from kerryhishon.com

Further Reading: The Best of 2014: 40 Posts from kerryhishon.com

Photo Credits: Bryan Nelson, Richard Gilmore, Ceris Thomas, Kerry Hishon

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