All posts by sperling

Monologue Madness

actor on stage

A monologue is a long speech delivered by an actor during a theatrical production. Some actors love monologues, while others are impartial to them. Monologues come at a particular point in the production and they serve an important purpose. Let’s take a look at what goes into delivering a monologue, details, and other elements of monologue madness

Memorizing Long Passages
Monologues are long passages delivered at a single time. This is usually why some actors struggle with delivering monologues. If a role contains a monologue, that may be a deciding factor as to whether or not an actor will audition for that role during a casting call. Though people think actors are extremely good at memorization – because that’s the nature of what they do – it’s still a challenge during rehearsals, as it’s a process moving toward opening night. Actors must be 100% comfortable delivering the monologue before moving forward with the production.

monologue delivery

The Moment of a Monologue
The moments in which monologues are delivered say a lot about the essence of a monologue. Delivered at a pinnacle moment of the story line, monologues are usually intense dramatic moments of realization, passion, or emotion. This is one reason why actors may dislike monologues. As an actor with a role containing a monologue, you’re responsible for a big moment. You have all eyes on you, and sometimes you’re the only one on stage. A monologue is an important moment to the show, so it’s critical that you express yourself exactly how you should so the audience understands and makes the proper connections.

 

monologue drama

 

Monologues for Students
As a theater student, you may have had to deliver a monologue in place of a written test, or as a graded project. This is also overwhelming if it’s a deciding factor of your grade or your passing the class. Monologue memorization and deliverance is by no means easy, especially when you’re weighted with other stressors while trying to memorize and consciously deliver.

The strong, confident actors should take on roles with monologues. Usually main or directly supporting roles of relevance are characters of a production who deliver monologues. Practicing memorization, deliverance, as well as improving your forms of persuasion can help you excel when it comes to monologues.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 100 years. Planning your next production? Reach out to us today for questions and more information: https://charleshstewart.com/

Breaking the 4th Wall

 

red stage curtains

The theater world is full of intricate terms and techniques. These ultimately help actors to perform their roles to the best of their abilities. One term used commonly among thespians is “breaking the 4th wall.” Let’s take a look at what this means, and how these terms help to keep actors focused and in tune with their character.

First, let’s get a visual of the fourth wall in our heads: picture yourself on stage, with the back curtain behind you and the two wings on each side of you. Think of these as your ‘walls.’ The fourth wall would be the invisible wall that connects you to the audience.

acting on stage

We use the term ‘breaking’ the fourth wall when we’re talking about interacting with the audience. Actors almost never want to break the fourth wall unless it’s a clearly defined moment in the script. If you break the fourth wall, this would mean you slipped up, and accidentally came out of character. Don’t worry, there are techniques you can practice to avoid this!

kid actors

Actors avoid breaking the fourth wall by always keeping a center of attention. Some actors will fixate their attention either on the back wall of the theatre auditorium, or on another specific location. Focusing their attention, and acting like they are delivering their role directly to that specific spot helps tremendously.

lights can be distracting

Many things can be distracting as an actor: lights, camera flashes (even though photography is usually prohibited, there are always those few guests) motion, people standing, and loud noises. Not breaking the fourth wall can be a challenge when acting in front of a large crowd, but that’s why actors work so hard on passion, delivery, and attention.

standing ovation

Many of the audience members are really enveloped in the show, and want to be involved with the characters as much as possible throughout their viewing experience. Some guests will try to get the attention of the actors while on stage, wave their hands, or even call out characters’ names (as very unadvised in previous blog, A Guide to Theatre Etiquette). Actors try their best to stay on script, and keep things running as smoothly as possible despite these distractions.

If you’re an actor, there are many things you can do to help practice avoiding breaking the fourth wall. Avoid audience eye contact, and focus on your next move. When rehearsing, and during dress rehearsal even more so, pick your focus point in the auditorium and have it already decided before the show.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 100 years. Planning your next production? Reach out to us today for questions and more information: https://charleshstewart.com/

Musicals Making Their Way to the Big Screen

Les Mis Poster

Musicals are one of the oldest, most loved, and renowned forms of theatre in existence. Characterized by singsong dialogue and a show tune structure throughout the production, musicals have greatly made their mark on the social sphere of entertainment.

pitch perfect cast

The genre exploded in the 1930s when the Great Depression was weighing heavily upon the U.S. Most musicals highlighted the lives of the upper echelons of society, and weren’t as realistic as they could have been. Times have changed, and of course, musical theatre greatly reflected this. Now, by just looking at theatre, we can see how we’ve progressed through history. Musical theatre has been recognized as something we truly love for entertainment.

Into the Woods

Today, we see movies and television shows that have flourished from the rudiments of musical theatre. Musical to film adaptations are very common today. At first glance, we may not realize how much we really enjoy the musical elements in our entertainment.

Movies like Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods, Hairspray, La La Land, Les Miserables, and shows like Glee were all once musicals that were adapted to the big screen. They represent our love for the melodic tunes and show tune structure.

Glee cast

Musical to film adaptations are undoubtedly a great way to extend a timeless or older story into something relatable in present day. Adaptations are taking a classic storyline, revamping, extending characters, changing up the plot, and putting out a new piece of art. The director has much to work with. The principal characters and everything about the musical generally remain, but there is definitely room to be creative with the visuals and all other movie elements.

But why has musical theatre made its way to the big screen? What caused this change? The answer lies within the true elements of musical theatre that have stuck with us. Show tune structure, repetition and reprisal of songs, as well as the sung dialogue are all elements we still see in movies today.

Hairspray

Musicals create a cohesive feel and bring you in more than a movie does. They include tons of human elements, moments of recognition, missions, realizations, and problem solving. This paired with music and very little spoken dialogue is what we want to see. The catchy tunes get stuck in our head, and the stories take us on a ride. We invest, we get enveloped, and it works. Now in 2018, it’s safe to say that musical theatre is here to stay.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading-edge scenic design and backdrop and rental company for over 100 years. If you’re hosting a production soon, check out our catalog for all of our offerings. We can answer all of your questions about your design needs for your next production. Reach out to us at (978) 682-5757 today! We want to hear from you.

A Guide to Theatre Etiquette

 

Theater audience

Going to see a theatre production is a favorite of many. If you’re an avid theatre goer, or a thespian yourself, this blog will explore obvious commonalities for you. Unfortunately, some people don’t understand theatre etiquette easily, but this is understandable as the environment is particular and unique. When you go to one production, it’s hard to pick up the etiquette on your first time. If you love theatre, but don’t know how to assimilate with the crowd, check out the list we’ve compiled of the basics.

 

interacting with crowd

Dress well. You don’t have to go overboard, but you should definitely feel confident. Look nice and feel nice. If you’re wearing a hat, take it off as soon as you enter the house. Avoid distracting clothing, and heavy perfume or cologne. Theaters are designed beautifully and regally, so dress like you belong there.A

Sit quietly. No fidgeting, eating snacks, falling asleep, snoring, or leaning your head. If you’re bored or uninterested, you probably shouldn’t be there.

Don’t create distractions. Distractions include singing along, getting out of your seat other than at intermission, and letting a cell phone buzz or ring.

Respect the space of others. Sit respectfully and keep to yourself. Don’t take your shoes off or get comfortable like you’re in a movie theatre. Though you are enjoying yourself too, remember that you are in a professional space supporting a cause.

Be appreciative. This includes clapping only when appropriate, and giving a standing ovation at the end of the production. Only clap or interact with actors when they ‘break the fourth wall’ or, in other words, interact with you.

Actors on stage

Actors and theatre goers will think everything on this list is absolutely unnecessary. If you’re going to a production and want to brief a friend, send them to this blog! If you know someone who doesn’t understand theatre etiquette and needs to see this list in writing, share our blog so your followers can read through. Theatre etiquette isn’t strict without a reason – it creates an environment in which actors can thrive and perform their best. If you don’t agree with theatre etiquette, maybe Broadway is not the place for you, and that’s okay! But when attending a show, you must abide by theatre culture and respect your environment.  

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading-edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 100 years. We can help you find the perfect backdrops and accessories for any production. Reach out to us for questions at (978) 682-5757.

Choosing Your Next Production

Cast on Stage

If you have a theater group and you’re constantly putting on productions, read on for inspiration in choosing your next production. We’ve put together a guide to choosing your next production for your theater community. Here are a few things we think are important to think about when brainstorming your possibilities:

Anastasia

Deciding on the Type of Production
Do you want to do a musical? Do you want to do a situational comedy or a dramatic play? Do you want to perform a greek tragedy? A historical play or a romantic play? There are many subsets of plays and types of productions. When you narrow down your goal, you can then choose a script.

Thinking of your Actors
Deciding on a play depends on your strengths and weaknesses as a theater community. Sometimes the tell-tale signs of your next production can be evident through your actors’ strong suits. Make sure you have the right type of actors available to be matched with the right roles.

Spider-Man

Accessing a Script
Be sure you have access to ordering scripts for your community. Are there enough scripts available for the production of your choice? Be sure that you’re choosing from plays that are accessible, and that you have the rights to get ahold of the script.

Look to your Inventory
Looking at the props you already have and the props you need to buy can help you decide on your next production. If you have a smaller budget, and it’s always helpful for theater communities to spend as little as possible, you can look at what you already own. You may not need to buy much if you have a good selection and you use a little creativity.

Tarzan

Time and Duration
Think about how much time each production will take to rehearse and choreograph. You need to think about time from the beginning of your first rehearsal to your last dress rehearsal. Be sure that the plays you’re considering all fall within your time frame for preparation.  

Set Hands and Available Crew
Some productions take more help behind the scenes and backstage. Other productions require less stage help and more actors on stage. Every production is different, so being sure you have enough set hands and available help is something you’ll definitely want to think through before choosing a play.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can provide you with the best quality backdrops for your productions. Visit our website to check out our inventory, and reach out to our staff with any questions.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

Ethos Pathos Logos Chart

Aristotle coined the terms ethos, logos, and pathos as modes of persuasion. These are used in theatre, in literature, and tons of other places. When actors are learning acting styles and methods, they learn about the three modes of persuasion to better their skills and create a more authentic production. Read on to learn more about the three modes of persuasion.

Ethos is the ethical appeal, and it means to convince an audience of the author’s credibility or character. An actor would use ethos to prove to his audience that he’s credible and worth listening to. An actor appealing to ethos would use the same language as their character, and try to dress exactly like them.

Actor in Wig with Glasses and bandana

Logos is the appeal to logic, meaning to convince the audience by using logic or reason. An actor may cite facts or statistics. An actor may appeal to logos by presenting logical or well rounded points, may cite important information, or may refer to historical analogies for explanations and proof.

Pathos is the emotional appeal, meaning to convince an audience through appealing on emotional levels. Actors may evoke sympathy to try make the audience feel how the author intended for them to feel. They aim to get a certain emotion out of their actions when appealing to pathos. Pathos can be expressed by actors through language, emotional tones, or emotional events or implications.

These forms of persuasion immensely help actors get into character. Persuasion helps the audience to believe and understand the plot and action of the production. Strong productions rely on the effective use of these persuasion techniques. By studying each one, actors can learn how to better their styles and increase their overall credibility while on stage.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart can help you with your backdrop needs. Visit our website to learn about our offerings, accessories, and handmade backdrops. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff with any questions.

Proper Warm-Up Routines

Actors on stage in a scene

 Every performer has their own personal routine when warming up before rehearsal or for a show. Some directors like when the performers warm up together, and think it can be helpful for creating a cast bond. Though warm ups may differ depending on whether you have rehearsal or a production that day. Check out these ideas for warm ups.

Stretching your Muscles

When warming up for rehearsal you should still be putting your all into warm ups. It’s the time when you feel out your body and get comfortable with your character, so putting your all into warm ups is very important. It exercises your body and stretches you out just like muscles before working out. You wouldn’t think, but there’s actually a muscle that actors workout called your diaphragm that you stretch like any other muscle to perform your best.

Microphone held by hand with dark background

Individual or Group?

Try individual warm ups and group warm ups. Anything goes for rehearsals as long as they’re really working you out. Stick with your individual routine, and allow yourself to warm up as you will to get to know your character the best you can.

Routines

When it comes closer to the opening night of the production, work through some group warm up activities that you’ve practiced. Make a routine of doing group warm ups as opening night slowly approaches. These group activities help boost morale, and increase chemistry and bonds between cast members.

Actor looking off into distance

Experience Helps Warm-Ups

As you gain experience with different types of productions, warming up becomes easier. It will make more sense as to which warm up routine should be done with which type of productions/characters.

Next time you’re planning your set, consider Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Call us at (978) 682-5757 or visit our website at https://charleshstewart.com/

 

How Does Set Design Influence a Production?

When you’re hosting a production, the set in which you design is a predominant aspect in determining how your audience will perceive your show. Sometimes the best way to get exactly what you want means designing yourself. If you have resources to work with, consider these ideas.

There are many questions and factors that go into planning and designing a set. Budgeting details need to be worked out as well as available work hours for crew to get going. When purchasing supplies, you of course want to make the best decisions for most affordable price.

Designing a perfect set and making things look the way you imagined doesn’t have to be expensive and pricy. When you plan details out, you can categorize elements of the set design process: which things you can do yourself, which elements you are able to rent, and which you must purchase. Then, deciding what to spend money on and what to build yourself comes naturally, thinking so

Renting backdrops and props can be make building the set easier. You’re able to spend less by returning something you may not use again. Renting companies provide help, answer questions and take really good care of their equipment so you know you’ll be getting quality designs.  

A set is the elements of the stage in which the actors interact with. It must be the perfect medium between enough detail, and not too distracting. What goes into your set will be directly related to your production. The backdrop is a very important aspect of the set design in which choosing can be vital to a shows success. You wouldn’t want to choose something inappropriate that doesn’t match your theme, colors that are too distracting, something too dismal, etc.

Movable or mobile elements of your set will help make things easy to take down and thus make more time available for other efforts. When planning the design of a set, the most efficient and movable objects and props are the most ideal.

The more time and effort you spend planning set design, the more easily executed the show will seem. Productions will directly benefit from proper set planning, and finding the best ways to easily and effectively bring your ideas to life.

Next time you’re beginning to plan your next set design, consider how it may be beneficial for you to rent a backdrop from Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Call us at (978) 682-5757 or visit our website at https://charleshstewart.com/

Common Questions about Backdrops

If you have an upcoming performance, dance recital, or event that needs that final element to make your presentation unforgettable, a backdrop may be just the answer. Backdrops by Charles Stewart has been the leader in scenic design and backdrop rentals for over 120 years. We carry over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames, and scrims for your performance. Not only do we offer a huge variety of backdrops, we have experience that can help you answer all your performance questions accurately. Here are some of the more common things directors, producers, and prop masters ask us when it comes to our products and services.

 

  • What kinds of backdrops and sizes are offered at BCS?

 

Charles H. Stewart offers a wide variety of backdrops designed to accommodate most high quality productions for theatres, schools, dance recitals, corporate events, and the like. Many of our backdrops are inspired by Broadway performances and have been organized into categories that reflect this on our website. For example, our backdrops are searchable by category, show, or even customizable with your unique design in mind. In addition we offer drops in a variety of sizes for your stage. We can create a backdrop of any size to your exact specifications on a custom order. However, our standard sizes for backdrop rentals are mostly 18×42 or 15×36.

 

  • How are the backdrops hung and are they compatible with the equipment at our venue?

 

All of our backdrops come with grommets and tie lines spaced approximately 12-14 inches apart. We ask that you only hang the backdrops using the grommets and tie lines provided. Please do not pin, staple, tack, or tape the backdrops at any time. Our experts can talk to you about how these can be hung and how to do so safely.

 

  • What about rental periods and arrival dates?

 

Our rentals typically are on a week-by-week basis, starting on a Monday and ending on a Monday. If you would like to have the drop ahead of time (and it is available), we may be able to offer (but not guarantee) early delivery. We also offer limited partial week rentals. We use UPS shipping to guarantee tracking for prompt arrival and suggest our clients use the same method for return shipping as well. The shipping is a separate fee. If an emergency arises and you need the drop for a longer period call us immediately so we can make certain that another client does not need the drop.

 

If you have further questions about billing, shipping and backdrop options see our FAQ section on our website or call Charles H. Stewart at (978) 682-5757 – www.charleshstewart.com

Planning Your Broadway Trip!

If you love the theater like we love the theater, then you probably plan trips there as often as you can. However, if you are a novice to Broadway, then you may be looking for tips to get there, enjoy a show, and not break the bank, right? So if you want to head to New York City and see the bright lights of Broadway then here are some ideas on how to make the trip and leave your savings account intact. Let’s plan a Broadway trip!

Getting There – Depending upon the distance you have to travel, you may need to fly, take a train, subway, bus, or all of the above. Watch your favorite websites for the best deal on tickets until you think you have the best option available.

Accomodations – While there are hundreds of travel sites that offer discount hotel prices, we suggest you think outside the box because even the cheapest hotel room will run you quite a bit of money. Try something like staying on a friend’s couch or possibly Airbnb. If all else fails stay right outside of the city or across the river in Jersey for better rates.

Getting Tickets and What to See – Obviously as a theater lover you will want to catch a show or two while you are in town. Check out sites like: Playbill, TheaterMania, and BroadwayWorld. They are fantastic sites for show news and theatre insights to get you in the mood for Broadway!

While you are visiting Broadway, enjoy all there is to see! Remember to look for our backdrops and give us a shout if you see something you love!