The Top Theater Myths

Theatrical superstitions and myths are real. Among the superstitious actors, it’s important to know them before ever entering or participating in a show, whether as a cast member or as an audience.
Follow along for the most famous superstitions that still linger on stages today.

Having three lit candles onstage – Having three lit candles on stage can bring bad luck. It is said that whoever is nearest to the shortest candle will be next to marry or die. Today, this is nothing but a rumor. Today, stages are instead lit by electrical lights. Instead of bad luck, having lit candles on or around the stage around flammable fresh paint, dim lighting and busy people will only burn the theater down.
Saying ‘Macbeth’ – If the name, ‘Macbeth’, is mentioned in a theatre there is a cleansing ritual to rectify the mistake. The ritual requires the person who said the name to leave the theatre building, spit, curse and spin around three times, before begging to be allowed back in. Other tricks also include, reciting a line from another Shakespearean work, brushing oneself off or running around the theatre counterclockwise. It is believed that Shakespeare got the words from a coven of real witches, and by using the word placed a curse on the play so no one, other than him, could correctly direct the play.
Bad Dress, Good Opening – Many stage actors believe that a bad and terrible dress rehearsal means a great opening night will occur. Although the origin is unclear, the comforting concept still continues today.
“Break a Leg” – Always replace the phrase “good luck” with “break a leg.” The saying might have originated from the ancient Greek practice of stomping feet instead of applauding. Others believed it could’ve originated from understudies jokingly wishing actors would “break a leg” so that their standbys were able to perform.
Flowers before the performance – Receiving flowers and a beautiful bouquet before a performance or recital is believed to cause a lackluster show. Instead, old school and new actors today require their flowers after the curtain call and never before!
Mirrors – Breaking a mirror can bring seven years of bad luck. However, breaking a mirror on stage will cause seven years of bad luck to the theatre. It is also believed that reflections from mirrors are distracting for lights, audience members and actors.

What Is An Interactive Theater?

Interactive theatre is known as a presentational or theatrical form of work that breaks the “fourth wall” that traditionally separates the performer from the audience, physically and verbally.

Traditionally, theatre performance is limited to a designated stage area and the actions of the play unfolds within interplay with audience members, who function as observers.

Conversely, in interactive theatre, performance may happen amidst audience members, and often involves the audience in more active roles. They may be asked to hold props, supply performance suggestions (as in improvisational theatre), share the action’s real-world (non-theatrical) setting (as in Site specific theatre), or become characters in the performance. In addition, the audience may be asked to participate in altering the course of the play altogether by taking part in a collective vote to help steer the plot in a new direction, as with Augusto Boal’s forum theatre. In therapeutic and educational settings, the audience may even be invited to discuss pertinent issues with the performers.

Interactive theatre is an engaging, exhilarating and transcendent experience. Here are the top two tips that engage the audience in a new, complete and convincing world.

Being consistent is the most important rule that keeps interactive theatre together. Without consistency, it creates a no point of entry that confuses the audience. Regardless of what world you create, as long as it is consistent, the audience will love it.
Accurate ratio – It’s important to have an accurate number of actors as audience members instead of having an audience outnumber the actors. When the audience effectively contribute to the atmosphere, it works. Both actors and audience equally working together on performer energy.

Interactive theatre popularity has increased and will continue to increase as more creative shows come to the stage. Check if your city or town has any interactive theatre showings!

Attending Theater Etiquette

There are unspoken rules that any theater love must know. Learning the proper way to act in a theater not only increases your level of enjoyment, but also allows you to participate as a courteous audience member, giving you the full enjoyment of the theater.
Here are a few tips on what not to do:

Don’t Use Your Phone – Leave your electronic devices in your car or turn them off once the show has begun. Along with those sitting around you, actors can see when a phone is being used and they can specifically look in the audience and see who it is. It can be very distracting and cause several interruptions to production. Instead, be respectful of the actors and the rest of the audience and remain attentive to the show.

Leaving During A Show – Leaving during a performance is considered to be highly disrespectful. Unless there is an extreme emergency, it should never be done. Visiting restrooms and getting snacks before, after or during intermission is always highly recommended. It’s also important to always remember to never rush towards the exits after the performance. It is very rude to the actors.

Snacking – Do not eat or drink during the performance. It can be too distracting and out of consideration to the actors and your neighbors, save it for intermission.

Don’t Take Photos – Taking pictures, audio-taping and video-recording during a theater play is illegal. If caught, you’ll be asked to leave. Why? Flash photos can be dangerous to the actors, causing them to be temporarily dazzled by the flash and step off the stage. It also goes against copyright issues with taking of photos and videos. In most cases, performers are always available after the show in the lobby for autographs and pictures.

Don’t Mimic – Please do not sing along, hum, whistle or whisper during a performance.
Applause – Performers greatly appreciate enthusiastic applause, shouts of “Bravo” or “brava” and standing ovations. Applaud only after a well performed song or dance during a scene, after each scene or act and at curtain call.

Attending the theater is fun, but it does require perfect manners to ensure everyone’s good time. With the help of this list, you will optimize your chances of having a memorable experience.

The Bloody Irish!

In honor of St Patrick’s Day, I was wondering what kind of stage shows featured an Irish theme or were set in Ireland.  Here’s a quick look at a few of these.  No!  Brigadoon is not one of these.  That was a Scottish village.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a 1996 black comedy by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh which was premiered by the Druid Theatre Company in Galway, Ireland. It also enjoyed successful runs at London’s West End, Broadway and Off-Broadway.

It was nominated for an Olivier Award as Best Play for the London production, and the 1998 Broadway production was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning four, for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Best Featured Actor in a Play, Best Featured Actress in a Play and Best Direction of a Play.

The play centers around Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely woman in her forties, who lives with and cares for her elderly mother Mag in the small village of Leenane, Connemara.  With possibly her first and last chance at love, Maureen must deal with her manipulative mother who is trying to derail it.

John Bull’s Other Island

John Bull’s Other Island is a comedy about Ireland, written by George Bernard Shaw in 1904. Shaw himself was born in Dublin, yet this is one of only two plays of his where he thematically returned to his homeland, the other being O’Flaherty V.C.. The play was highly successful in its day, but is rarely revived, probably because of so much of the dialogue is specific to the politics of the day.

The play deals with Larry Doyle, originally from Ireland, but who has turned his back on his heritage to fit in with the English and Tom Broadbent, his English (and very Machiavellian) business partner. They are civil engineers who run a firm in London. They go to Roscullen, where Doyle was born, to develop some land.

Doyle has no illusions about Ireland while Broadbent is taken with the romance of the place. Broadbent, a lively man who seemingly is not always aware of the impression he makes, becomes a favourite of the people. Before the play is over, it is clear he will marry Nora Reilly, the woman waiting for Doyle (who is more than happy to let her go) and become the area’s candidate for Parliament after Doyle refuses to stand, but has also ‘called in’ all his loans given “so easily” to the locals against their homes and intends (as he had planned all along) to make the village into an amusement park.

Another major character is the defrocked priest Peter (Father) Keegan, the political and temperamental opposite of Broadbent, who sees through him from the beginning and warns the locals against him.

Dancing at Lughnasa

Dancing at Lughnasa is a 1990 play by dramatist Brian Friel set in Ireland’s County Donegal in August 1936 in the fictional town of Ballybeg. It is a Memory play told from the point of view of the adult Michael Evans, the narrator. He recounts the summer in his aunts’ cottage when he was seven years old.

It’s August, 1936 in rural Ireland.  Step into the kitchen of the five proud Mundy sisters, a place for talking, laughing, and lively dancing—moments that defy the hardships of their daily life. Their brother, a missionary, has just returned from Uganda, and the sisters find themselves each on the brink of momentous change. Friel’s Tony-Award-winning play captures a beautiful and exuberant sliver of these women’s lives, a summer where love—and everything else—seemed possible.

 Once

Once is a musical stage adaptation based on the 2007 film of the same name by John Carney. Like the film, music and lyrics were by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Academy Award-winning “Falling Slowly”. The book for the musical was written by Enda Walsh. The musical premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011, before transferring to Broadway in 2012. The production received eleven 2012 Tony Award nominations, and won eight including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Book. The musical also won the 2012 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It has since spawned a London production, with a North American Tour which started on 1 October 2013.

In the musical, the cast also serves as the orchestra. A minimalist set is used, including a bar in center stage with chairs lining stage left and right. Exiting cast members simply step to the side of the stage and sit down. They serve as the orchestra from these chairs. The bar is used before the show and at intermission as a working bar for theater patrons.

Guy is an Irish singer and songwriter who spends his days fixing vacuums in the Dublin shop he runs with his father, and his nights playing his music in local pubs. He is on the verge of giving up music altogether when a Czech immigrant, “Girl,” walks into the bar, hears him play and refuses to let him abandon his guitar. As it turns out, she has a broken vacuum cleaner, Guy repairs it, and she pays him in music on a piano she plays in a record shop. Over the course of a week, Girl convinces Guy to believe in the power of his music and his love for the woman who inspired his songs. They scrape together money to record a demo album with a motley crew of bar friends, and their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful—but very complicated—love story.

The Bloody Irish

Written by Barry Devlin, directed for the stage by Michael Barker-Caven, music composed and arranged by David Downes, this 80 minute musical drama based on the events of the 1916 Rising had its premier broadcast in October 2015 on the prestigious Public Broadcast Service (PBS), the most watched public service station in the USA.

General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell – the man who signed the death warrants of the 1916 leaders – narrates this dramatic retelling of the events of Easter Week. Starting out with a belief that the rising is a foul act of treachery, Maxwell has a change of heart, asking in the end whether he has made a grievous mistake in sending Pearse, Connolly and the rest to their death.

Plays that turned into movies

Ever thought of which plays have turned into movies? It is very common for a popular play, after all the success it has, be turned into a movie. Among the most popular is Hamlet, and although there are several variations of the movie, everyone knows the most common one: The Lion King. There are some academics who believe stage plays can easily lend themselves to big screen adaptations– Both have traditional resemblance of narrative structures, use actors to transmit dramatic actions, as well as the use of spoken dialogue.

Here’s a list of plays turned to movies that you should check out today!

The Philadelphia Story – Play by Phillip Barry and screenplay by Donald Ogden Steward, the play was a huge success on Broadway and is known as Hepburn’s greatest comeback. The play was turned into a film in 1940, starring Katherine Hepburn. It’s a story of a divorced socialite, Tracy Lord, who’s preparing for her second marriage, but things get complicated with a simultaneous arrival of her ex-husband.

Amadeus – Written by Peter Shaffer, the play was adapted into the big screen in 1984 casting Mark Hamill as Mozart. It’s known as one of the greatest plays and movies about the creative and genius process. It tells a story of Antonio Salieri, who gets jealous that God favors Mozart with divine inspiration.

Les Misérables – The first stage production was presented at a Paris sports arena. However, in 1983 produce Cameron Mackintosh received a copy of the French concept album and was impressed enough to produce an English-language version of the show. It premiered on Broadway in 1987 and after sixteen years with 6,680 performances, it closed on May, 2013. Many adaptations of film were made with the most recent one in 2012, with Anne Hathaway winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting actress.

Musicals on Netflix

Do you ever get the urge to watch a live musical, only to realize you don’t have the funds or a local theater hosting a musical of your interest? Well, maybe you should check on Netflix! Curious as to which ones are available? Check out the following list:

Rent:

A rock musical follows the story of poor young artists who are all connected and struggling to survive and create a life in New York City while the HIV/AIDS epidemic surrounds them.

Grease:

This is a classic, coming-of-age musical based in the late 50s that follows ten middle-class teens managing typical teen peer pressure, politics, values and, of course, love. Within this story, during summer break, Danny and Sandy fall in love. However, once school begins, Danny struggles to find the balance between his feelings for Sandy and his bad-boy image as a T-Bird.

Shrek, the Musical:

Based on the animated movie of the same name, the musical tells the story of a green ogre who, in an attempt to get his secluded home back from fairy-tale characters, he winds up falling in love with a princess with a lifelong secret.

Hairspray:

In 1960s Baltimore, a young big-haired teen, Tracy Turnblad’s dream of performing in a TV Dance Show comes to reality after learning a few new dance moves from her black friend Seaweed. While on the show, she finds herself advocating for racial integration.

Hello Dolly:

This musical follows the story of an outspoken matchmaker who attempts to marry a half-millionaire merchant all while setting up a young clerk with his assistant with a widowed milliner and her assistant.

 

What musicals do you wish were on Netflix?

Popular Valentine’s Day Musicals

 

With the celebration of love and friendship fast approaching, we have decided to share with you five popular Valentine’s Day Musicals to look out for and go watch with a significant other or a dear friend.

 

Honeymoon in Vegas:

This musical follows a regular guy named Jack with a fear of marriage who ends up building up courage to ask his girlfriend, Betsy, hand in marriage. However, after arriving in Las Vegas to wed, a dashing gambler falls in love with Betsy and threatens to take her away to live luxuriously with him.

First Date:

A mismatched pair goes on a blind date after being set up by a mutual friend. Throughout the course of their date, their exes and other surprising personas visit them through their imaginations. In the end, sparks may or may not fly.

Dirty Dancing:

This is a classic coming-of-age, 60’s musical of 17 year-old ‘Baby’ who goes to a resort with her family during summer vacation. While having a hard time finding activities that interested her, she finally finds her source of entertainment through raunchy dancing.  

Kinky Boots:

This musical, very much like the indie film of the same name, follows the story of two completely different men, Charlie and Lola, who find valuable friendship within each other after coming up with the brilliant idea of creating “kinky boots” for men. Eventually, it helps keep Charlie’s family’s shoe factory business alive.

West Side Story:

Based off of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” this musical takes place in 1950s Manhattan while being dominated by rival gangs, Sharks and Jets. While at a dance, Jets’ good-boy Tony and Sharks’ sister Maria fall in love. Throughout the musical, these two lovers try to find a way to be together while tensions begin to escalate between the rival gangs.

Which ones are your favorite?

Stage Lighting Tips

Each production requires the right, unique lighting to help set the tone, mood and overall scenario. Because of this, we have compiled some lighting information to help guide you towards the right lighting production for your show.

 

Vertical slanted light in front of subject:

This kind of stage lighting helps place focus on the subject’s face, shining on its eyes and mouth. However, it could cause the light to extend further upstage, which can cause the subject’s shadow to also extend onto the backdrop/scenery.  

 

Lighting in front and below subject:

Lights that are shining upwards from the bottom of the stage can soften the subjects features but, it can also be very unnatural. Using this technique could also cause the shadow to extend and elongate the shadow behind the subject, which can be completely distracting and unflattering for the scenery.

 

Vertical light directly above subject:

Although this lighting technique completely eliminates the issue of shadows extending onto the scenery, it can inhibit the facial features of the subject.

 

Horizontal in front of subject:

This technique also help the shadows issue since the shadow is of actual size and directly behind the subject, which will avoid any scenery disruptions. A major issue with this technique, however, is that it can flatten, not only the facial features of the subject but, the entire depth of every stage object.

 

Vertical behind, slanted towards subject:

Because this lighting is shining behind the subject, facial features will not be visible and the shadow will extend towards the front of the stage instead of upstage towards the scenery. However, this kind of lighting helps bring the production to life by giving the stage more depth.
Playing around with the different types of lighting, and mix and matching, can help you decide on the perfect lighting for every scene in the show. Remember that each lighting technique is crucial to setting the right mood, so each lighting technique can be different depending on the tone of the scenes.

How to Make School Productions a Success

 

Producing any show can be a ton of work and can be incredibly time consuming. When that production is a school play, it can be even more difficult when most of those who are involved are adolescents and the help you receive is limited. However, if this is the first time you are putting on a school production, don’t panic! There are a ton of school productions that turn out to be successful. We have gathered some tips to help you ensure a successful school production.

 

Have you chosen a production to work on, yet? When deciding on the show, consider your current assets such as the stage you have access to and your budget. You will also have to consider the time frame, the ages of your actors, and the audience you will have the performance for.

 

If the production you are thinking about using is popular throughout multiple generations but happens to contain some controversial aspects, consider looking at all available versions of it and choose the one that would work best, or communicate the production with the principle of the school. Note that productions that may work for one school audience may not be as accepted by others.

 

Once you have chosen on the right production, create a detailed production calendar that not only includes rehearsal dates but also the contact information for everyone involved in the production. Share a copy of the calendar with everyone involved in the production, as well. Most importantly, stay in constant communication with everyone about any changes or new information that may rise. If you are working with a much younger age group, make sure to stay in constant communication with their parents about rehearsals and such, as well.

 

When it comes to holding auditions, remember that theater is inclusive. Allow for any student who wants to participate in the production to do so, if not through acting roles, then through more technical roles such as backstage work, stage prop creation, selling tickets, and so on.

 

Once you have decided on each student’s role in the production, and rehearsals have begun, assure that you are giving all actors equal attention. It is easy to “lose track” and place most of your focus on the lead characters, but in order to have a successful production, small roles should be just as strong as lead roles.

 

Producing a show on your own can be incredibly difficult, so don’t be afraid to work with others. Accept the help when offered and, seek for help when needed. Remember that any help can be beneficial.
In the end, make sure you have chosen a production you enjoy since most of your time and efforts will be placed on it for months to come. Also, remember that even the most rehearsed productions are not guaranteed a perfect, mistake-free show!

Theater and Martin Luther King

Now that it’s January 2017, I was wondering what kind of stage shows featured Martin Luther King.  There are a few ranging from full scale theatrical productions to informational kids plays.  Here’s a quick look at a few of these.

mountaintop-poster-651x1024The Mountaintop

The Mountaintop is a play by American playwright Katori Hall. It is a fictional depiction of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on earth set entirely in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of his assassination in 1968.  The play initially failed to find a venue in the US but premiered in London at the 65-seat Theatre503. After critical acclaim and a sell-out run the play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End. The production was directed by James Dacre and featured British actors David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs. Harewood was nominated for Best Actor in the Evening Standard and Whatsonstage Awards and Burroughs for Best Actress in the Olivier Awards. The production won the Olivier Best New Play Award and was nominated for Whatsonstage Awards and Most Promising Playwright in the Evening Standard Awards.

The Independent wrote that the production at Theatre 503 was “an imaginative portrayal” and shows “a relationship that is breathtaking, hilarious and heart-stopping in its exchanges and in its speedy ability to reveal character and pull the audience into the ring.”  Theater critic Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph wrote of the production at Trafalgar Studios “It is a beautiful and startling piece, beginning naturalistically before shifting gear into something magical, spiritual and touching.”

Moments With Dr. King

Per Playbill, this play, press notes state, “provides factually-based slices of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from December 1955 until April 1968.  Written by Eric Falkenstein and produced by close confidants Ambassador Andrew Young and Congressmen John Lewis, it depicts widely-known historic events as well as more private behind-the-scenes moments.” A cast of more than 20 will offer “close-up examinations of Dr. King’s interactions and relationships with Coretta Scott King, other family members, associates, officials and adversaries.”  The production secured permission from the King estate to make use of portions of speeches, writings, recordings and other property of the King family.

mlk-small-e1407234412939Life & Death of MLK—America: Dreams & Nightmares

In the years following his “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King saw his liberal allies in government desert him, his own staff question him, and more radical activists berate him over his beliefs and principles.

Written and directed by Paul Stebbings, produced by Grantly Marshal, and music by John Kenny, this play explores how this came about, following the spiritual and political journey of this once humble preacher to the status of icon and, tragically, martyr. And this is the stuff of tragedy because Martin Luther King was man torn by inner demons and wracked with guilt; a man who lived by the creed of non-violence and saw his supporters savagely beaten, wrongfully imprisoned, humiliated and all too often murdered.

Skin Deep:  Story of Martin Luther King

This is a short, simple, easy to produce, yet electrifying dramatization of the main events in Martin Luther King’s life as leader of the American Civil Rights movement. Skin Deep illumines the attitudes of white racists without mocking them, and highlights the challenge of black activists to remain non-violent.  SKIN DEEP was originally produced in a church in Kitchener, Ontario in 1985. Martin Luther King’s eldest daughter, Yolanda, was present for the occasion and later addressed a city-wide ecumenical gathering.

We Are the Dream

This is a play about Martin Luther King’s life specifically written for schools and churches.  It uses easy language for young students to learn.  It’s about 45 minutes long.  You can use a cast of all children.  You can mix generations.  You can add or subtract lines and music as you see fit.  It was meant to be an easy production to promote confidence and team spirit while keeping the action moving and everyone involved throughout the play.