Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Glimpse into Community Theater ACT III

There are tricks for every trade. In community theater, there are lots of things that help make a production run more smoothly. I learned a few during my journey from audition to last curtain call. For those of you new to community theater, I offer you these last few tips to help you make the most of your adventure. Anyone with community theater experience, feel free to add your favorite tips and tricks.


Water is essential. Your body and voice must
stay hydrated. The trick is not just having a bottle of
water backstage, but knowing how much to drink.
Too little and you dry up or lose your voice.
Too much and you'll need a restroom break
in the middle of an important scene.
BE SURE TO PRACTICE HYDRATION DURING
DRESS REHEARSALS!!!

I kept an ice pack handy for between-scene breaks.
I'm not sure if everyone of all ages gets overly
heated during a production, but 40-something
women like me can spontaneously combust at any
time, anywhere, especially while acting. It's best to have a 

personal cooling system available, because actors have no
control over the venue's heating or cooling units.
BE SURE TO STAY COOL DURING PERFORMANCES.

I kept the accessories for each costume on the
hanger with the costume. Earrings, necklaces, watches,
scarves--anything that I had to use or wear during that
scene while wearing those clothes. This is something I
had to incorporate during rehearsals after first organizing
items neatly across a chair didn't work and I kept
forgetting which earrings to wear at what time
and when to put on my watch.
AVOID CHECKING YOUR BARE WRIST FOR THE TIME,

HANG ACCESSORIES WITH COSTUMES.
As actors do when a show is over, I miss hanging out with Edna each night, I miss my fellow actors, I miss the crew and I miss the hectivity of the production. But I am grateful for all that I learned, the most important nugget of which was that I love community theater. There will be other roles and other productions. And there is much more for me to learn. I look forward to every moment of my future in community theater.


Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 


Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY READING:
Micki Bare's Blog (Arkansas News Bureau)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Glimpse into Community Theater ACT II


I'm not sure how productive I'd be if I couldn't write a note and then adhere it to something. When I was an administrator, I had notes stuck to walls, my desk and along the screen of my computer. Electronic sticky notes did not reduce the number of the 3D paper kind I produced, however, they did crowd the space of my computer desktop. When I transitioned into editing and writing for an advertising agency, the sticky notes multiplied on and around my computer and then infested my notebooks, as well. Now that I'm home, notes adorn the walls in my kitchen, bedroom and master bath. When I open my pocketbook in search of my keys, sticky notes rain onto the floor.

It was no big surprise to those who know me that I turned to adhesive squares of paper to get me through my first leading role in community theater. I highly recommend the use of sticky notes during a production. The gaff tape may fail rendering the beaded doorway unstable, the screws holding the power strip may come loose causing a big stir, but the sticky notes stay in place night after night.

Here are my important notes for RSVP Community Theatre's production of Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue--the thin little slips of paper that enabled me to bring Mrs. Edna Edison to life:


This one resides in my suitcase so I
remember where my costumes and props
need to be placed before each performance.

This note is actually on the set to remind
me to place the coffee service in the proper
place during the play. If I put it on the table
instead of the bar, as I did in rehearsal, it
throws the whole scene and everyone in it
completely off! 
This backstage note helps prompts me
when to make some noise and then when to
walk back out on stage in the one scene
during which I get a little break.

After two rehearsals during which I performed
entire scenes without wearing Edna's glasses,
I had to add this sticky note to the mirror backstage. 

Coming next in the last of my glimpses, I will share important community theater tricks I learned during my tenure as Edna.

Check out Asheboro's community theater group, RSVP, online at RSVPtheatre.org. Interact with RSVP cast & crew on Facebook, too!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 


Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Visit Micki’s website: http://www.inspiredscribe.com
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Glimpse into Community Theater ACT I

Lights, ACTION! The blue light keeps
things behind the scenes safely lit. 
The boys are nearly grown and I am an at-home writer and domestic administrator. This relatively recent shift in focus and responsibility keeps me busy. It also provides the illusion of “spare time.” This sense of spare time motivated me to do something I’d always wanted to do—act. Thanks to the coaxing of a friend, I tried out for a part in our community theatre production of a Neil Simon play. I was cast in the lead female role. And so my baptism into the reality of local stage acting began.

I had no inkling of what to expect. I came in cold and somehow pulled off a huge role in front of all of our friends and neighbors. It was not easy by any stretch. But it was one of the most thrilling and fulfilling experiences of my life since the birth of my children. I greatly encourage every and any person who has ever had a twinge of yearning whilst reading about auditions in the community section of the newspaper or upon seeing a playbill posted at the mall on the community board near the cookie store to go for it. And I’m going to make it a little easier for you. My next few blog posts will provide a little behind the scenes guidance to participating in community theater. While much of what I offer pertains to actors, these tidbits could also help aspiring crew members become acquainted with the realities of community theater.

First, I take you backstage. Community theater productions are sometimes performed in theaters. They might also be performed in parks. And when the theater is undergoing renovations, the play could be presented in the conference room in a city public works building. Since we were in just such a situation, backstage was a makeshift hallway behind the set. That hallway also served as the dressing room for the actors.

1. I recommend investing in—or digging out of the attic—a small suitcase. There are things you won’t want to leave backstage during the run of the show. A suitcase makes it easy to keep up with and transport items you need or want during production.



I made use of this vintage suitcase
given to me by Mrs. Sheldrick, our widowed
next door neighbor, when I was a child.
2. Actors need strong hangers that can hold clothing while dangling from a two by four. And ask for help with dress changes so you don’t drop hangers, lean on the set or end up with a pile of clothes on the floor that the tech crew could trip over.


This is my partial wardrobe. I had six dress
changes for the five scenes it took to
portray Mrs. Edna Edison.
3. Actors also need to find a chair that can be placed near clothing and makeup. Not that you’ll be sitting while powdering your nose. You’ll need the chair to sit if you have a few minutes during a scene for which you are not actually on stage.

4. Your mirror could very well be taped to the back of the set, so DON’T TOUCH THE MIRROR! You could literally knock things down on stage while trying to adjust the mirror backstage. Or worse, you could knock down the entire wall. 


Full length mirror installed
with a little gaff tape to
the back of the set.
5. Be sure to practice dress changes and makeup at home. Backstage, during a live production, you will be lucky to have a blue light illuminating your dressing area. 

6. If you are fortunate enough to have some lighting, make sure the lamp is directed downward. Otherwise, you’ll be giving the audience a bonus shadow show on the ceiling. Should this happen, laugh it off and suggest they charge a few extra dollars at the door for the errotic shadow display.

My next post will cover the critical role of sticky notes in a community theater production.


Check out Asheboro's community theater group, RSVP, online at RSVPtheatre.org. Interact with RSVP cast & crew on Facebook, too!


Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 


Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Visit Micki’s website: http://www.inspiredscribe.com
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor