Tiny Theatre Tips #5: Rest

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

Tiny Theatre Tips #5: Rest

Tiny Theatre Tips #5: Rest

I can already see my friends and family rolling their eyes and laughing at me for posting this one, because this is the tip I so frequently and blatantly ignore:

REST.

As a theatre person, you are already familiar with the late nights and long rehearsal hours that go into making a production, particularly around tech week (frequently known as hell week, but let’s not go there, shall we?). “I can’t, I have rehearsal” is always a phrase thrown about by theatre types of all sorts, because they are generally at one of three places: at home (where laundry and dirty dishes are piling up because you are never actually there for longer than an hour), at school or their day job, or, most likely, at the theatre.

It’s so easy to get swept away in the excitement of getting a show on its feet, but it’s also very easy to burn the candle at both ends and forget to take proper care of yourself. That’s why it is so important to make time to rest. Particularly because you don’t want to be a zombie at work/school, and you don’t need to make yourself sick, especially during the run of the show.

If you do get sick during rehearsals, do everyone a favour and STAY HOME. You need to not spread your germs around to the rest of the group, and your body won’t be able to truly heal up if you’re continually pushing yourself. If it’s a performance, then it will depend — if you have an understudy or an assistant, give them a call and get them on that stage or running those cues for you. But if you are *it* and people are depending on you, then you’ve got to push through and get through the performance as best you can. This is why “preventative resting” is so important!

Theatre people need to learn to not figure out how far they can push themselves before their bodies just give out. Before you get to that point, you need to just STOP, GO HOME, and REST. And not just a nap in the seats at the theatre (although I have been known to do that once in a while), but a proper eight hours of sleep in your own comfy bed. No phones, no television, no video games — just pure, simple sleep.

It can be hard to unwind after you’ve been super-energetic and hyped up at rehearsals, or wired from a great performance. Try creating a wind-down routine that helps you get in the mindset to sleep. Perhaps a warm bath or shower would help, or a mug of sleepytime tea, or some soothing music, or a lavender pillow spray. Whatever helps you get the shut-eye you need to keep you going for eight performances a week. Try not to be tempted into going out for drinks or snacks after every show or rehearsal with the rest of the cast and crew. There will always be another get-together.

Know yourself; know your limits; listen to your body and just rest.

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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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Self-Care for Performers: 5 Useful Tips

Self-Care for Performers - 5 Useful Tips

Performing is an extremely strenuous pastime, both physically and emotionally. Acting, singing, dancing, stage combat (often all at the same time!) can take its toll on you. No matter whether you are a professional performer or part of a community theatre production, it’s crucial that all performers take good care of themselves in order to keep themselves in peak condition, so they can continue to perform!

Read on for some (should be obvious) tips for self-care for performers.

1.  Get enough rest, especially during tech week and performances.

Performing day after day gets exhausting, especially on double-show days. Be sure to treat your body well and get adequate rest. That may mean going to bed earlier than usual, or taking a nap instead of going out for lunch in between shows.

2.  Take care of your voice.

Avoid screaming and shrieking (this may not be the best time to go to a One Direction concert or the Superbowl and scream your voice raw), and even clearing your throat, which causes strain. If your musical director or vocal coach puts you on vocal rest, then you better not be talking! If you feel yourself starting to get sick, start drinking tons of water to flush out your system, and hot tea with honey will soothe your throat. I’ve also heard slippery elm or oil of oregano works well, but be sure to speak to a doctor before taking any products!

Avoid dairy products (coats your throat), soda (makes you gassy) and even juices (full of sugar, and can stain costumes if you’re drinking in costume). Even throat lozenges like Fishermen’s Friend or Halls aren’t good for you when you’re performing, because they have alcohol in them, which dries up your throat even more.

3.  Make smart choices when it comes to your non-theatre life.

The rehearsal period/performance dates may not be the best time to take up BMX, snowboarding, or any other extreme sports. Your director will not be happy if you show up to rehearsal with a broken leg! (Don’t say it won’t happen — it’s happened at OKTC more than once!)

4.  Don’t spread your germs around.

Especially with colder weather upon us and people more likely to get sick. Please don’t share drinks or food with your cast mates; wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer; and for goodness sake, if you’re sick and contagious, call your director and stay home! (That’s for rehearsals only — if you’re sick on a show day, you better get your butt to the theatre unless you’re on your death bed!)

5.  Listen to your body.

If you are on the verge of losing your voice, tell your musical director but don’t push your voice. If you need to rest, then rest. Avoid foods that cause you upset stomachs before a performance. Drink lots of water, and then drink some more water. Know the difference between working hard and pushing through when you’re just feeling “meh” and when you truly need to back off.

Do you have any tips for self-care for performers?
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