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Improvisation: On Stage & Rehearsal Routines

Improvising is a tool used by people every day throughout many professions. Sales reps, teachers, and so many others benefit from the elements of improvisation.

Actors on stage

Improvisation in the theater is something every actor works to improve and hone their skills. When you’re practicing, rehearsing, warming up, and exercising your mind, you’re always using improvisation.

Improv Increases Skills

Practicing improvisation increases the skills of an actor. Improv skills come in handy in many situations, when something goes awry, and mistakes happen when the curtain is up. Though we don’t plan for these things to happen, this is an element of live theater, and we can’t control when mistakes occur. We can, however, practice to know how to handle these situations and make them seem natural.

Expand Imagination & Creativity

When you’re practicing your improv skills, you create characters based on your imagination and creativity. This helps you study character elements, roles, and personalities so you can better portray certain character traits. When practicing improvisation in a group setting, actors will often interact with others in group scenes. This helps build character relationships and allows actors to study how they best interact with others on stage.

actor rehearsing

Creating a scene or a setting through improv is purely up to the actor. Improv is all about going with the flow. It increases your awareness, response time, and cognitive abilities.

Positivity & Open-Ended Comments

A general rule of thumb with improv is to include positive comments, open-ended thoughts, and questions with room for a response. Positive words like ‘yes’ as opposed to ‘no’ can allow you to build scenes further, and allow other actors to build from what you’ve created. Don’t position yourself or your partner with nowhere to go when improvising.

acting out improv scenes

There are different rules for each theater community in regard to improvising. Most drama clubs or theater communities have a plan in place for when things go off script during a live performance. Almost all thespians practice their improvisation skills daily, and using them when you need them can make or break the believability of your production.

Planning With Improv

Before each production, discuss with your director and cast which improvisation tips and tricks will work during the show. See what’s appropriate beforehand, and decide how your cast will handle mistakes. Work on your improv a little each day to increase your skills all around.

When you’re looking to rent a backdrop, or purchase or customize your own, Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has thousands of backdrops in inventory for you to choose from. Reach out to Charles H. Stewart at (978) 682-5757. Your perfect backdrop is awaiting you, ready for delivery.

Deciding on a Backdrop: Tips for Decision Making

When you’re considering renting a backdrop, you may be overwhelmed with the choices. The colors, the designs, and the intricate detail of each backdrop is beautiful in each of their own ways. As you’re scrolling our inventory, you may be stuck between a few different backdrops, and not know which to choose for your production or event. Don’t worry, we put together a guide of tips for decision making when it comes to backdrops. There are a few things you’ll want to consider when planning and staging your production and set design. Read this blog for everything to know when it comes to deciding on the perfect backdrop.

Matching Your Production’s Theme With The Backdrop

Finding a backdrop that matches your theme is the most important part of deciding. When you know the theme of your show, be sure the backdrops you have your eye on are all appropriate in color, style, and design. For example, if you’re producing a show like 42nd Street, you’ll want to consider backdrops with cityscapes, Broadway streets, bright flashy colors, skylines, black and white, city lights, and streets.

How To Ensure Backdrops Will Fit Your Space

Each backdrop by Charles H. Stewart listed in our inventory includes the size of the backdrop on the webpage. All of our backdrops come with grommets and tie lines spaced approximately 12-14 inches apart. Be sure the backdrops you’re considering will fit your space and your stage. Take measurements and have an idea of where you’re going to hang the backdrop.

Considering the Lighting and Elements of Your Stage

When choosing your backdrop, consider the level of lighting available during your event or production. Will there be professional lighting operated? Remember that lighting requirements are different for all color combinations, and your lighting technician can have a dramatic impact on your presentation. With hand-painted backdrops, striking and unique textures, you’ll want to position them best for everyone to see clearly. The positioning of your audience and elements of your stage will help you decide what backdrop is right for your event or production.

 

A backdrop can be the final element that brings your theatrical production, dance recital or event to life. They set your stage and provide a visual impact that makes your presentation truly unforgettable. With a beautiful appearance and a cost-effect approach to set design, Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has just what you need.

Theater in the Lives of Young Adults

There is no question that the arts are a huge building block for learning at early ages for students and young adults. Throughout the holidays and celebrations every year, theatrical productions have been the best way thus far for schools to incorporate information and fun lessons into something interactive. Beyond educationally, being a part of a theater community teaches kids to branch out, make one-of-a-kind connections, and be themselves in a world of individuality. 

When a student is in theater in elementary school, middle school, and high school, they have a choice when it comes to college. Do you pursue a career in your passion: music, and theater? Or do you choose something different due to former opinions of ‘practicality’?

college students working together around computer

Boston University student, Chris Kuiken, explains this in a Boston Globe Theater article written by Kaya Williams. He says, “I was at sort of a crossroads, where I was like: What do I want to do with my life?” he says. “I was going back and forth every day between these two worlds, and trying to figure it out.”

Kuiken graduated from BU in 2017 with experience in theater, both starring in plays and admin work. The article explains, “He chose the “practical” major partly for, well, its practicality and a minor in arts administration.”

“I was at sort of a crossroads, where I was like: What do I want to do with my life?”

Why do you think it’s common for theater to be perceived as an impractical profession? In reality, theater can be more rewarding than most jobs. Creative expression is healthy, and it’s important for everyone to have an outlet. When you love what you do, and you know it’s your passion, sometimes the best thing for us is to follow that. When your outlet can become your profession, we think that’s the ultimate success.

high school theater auditorium seats

The article continues to explain that, “Despite the lucrative jobs that could come with careers in S.T.E.M. fields and business, some students — like Kuiken — are shifting their gaze from Wall Street to Broadway, from laboratory fluorescents to footlights.”

What do you think about this? Do you support the shift of young adults from big business jobs to the arts? How common are theater majors in your school or university? Let us know. We want to hear from you!

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames, and scrims to choose from in our inventory. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

Highlights of our New DreamWorld Backdrops

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has acquired DreamWorld Backdrops. This addition of 400 new backdrops to our inventory is something we’re very excited about. Check out the press release here. We’ve already added roughly 50-60 of these new backdrops so far, and we’re adding more as we go every day. We wanted to write a blog to highlight some of these exciting new additions that came with the acquisition. Check out some of these awesome DreamWorld backdrops now available by Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart:

The classic space backdrop depicts an encapsulating image of deep space, showing nebulas and galaxies from the view of a veranda. With a futuristic show, a birthday party, a celebration or a modern production, you can use a fantasy-style backdrop and curate a detailed space set.

This new drive-in movie backdrop is perfect for older, Hollywood themed shows. It’s a 1950s style backdrop showing drive-in movies with cars and movie posters. This backdrop can pull any set together with a complete and classic look. The detail in this backdrop can really bring your show to life, and bring your audience right back to the times of the 50s. Your set design can look professional with little effort, simply by hanging this high-quality, novelty backdrop.

With a Tuscany Landscape backdrop, bring any European production to life. Check out these beautiful rows of vineyards at sunset with a stucco villa in the distance. The beauty of this backdrop in person is really like no other. The bright colors of the vegetation and landscapes envelop your audience in the scene. When you rent a backdrop like this, you don’t necessarily need a heavy set design as the backdrop speaks volumes.

Instead of going crazy with set design, building and buying materials, consider a simple set with an intricate backdrop. Renting a backdrop can be easy and efficient, and can save your drama club, company, or organization all of the work that goes into set design. With these beautiful DreamWorld backdrops now in our inventory, we know we’ll be extremely busy serving our clients. Contact us at (978) 682-5757 to reserve your backdrop for your next event or production as soon as you have your heart set on a backdrop.

Traditional Playbills vs Electronic Playbills

The playbill is often one of the most admired aspects of the theater. Guests love to enter the theater, get comfortable, get associated with the backdrop, and read what is in store for them. The printed playbill is one of the most traditional elements of theater that still rings true today. 

Legally Blond Playbill

An article by Laura Collins in the New York Times online theater section explains this perfectly.

She explains that when you go to the theater, and your usher guides you to your seat, you almost expect to receive something from him. Perhaps the house doesn’t want the audience distracted? Perhaps they would rather you read about the show after the show?

Maybe this is a money-saving move on the theater’s part, but is this worth compromising our beloved in-hand playbills? It is expected that the audience will tune in to the digital version of the playbill on their phone. When you don’t receive a program directly, how likely are you to do this? And how do you see and analyze the reader’s response?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“When I admire something I’ve seen onstage, I often spend my subway ride home scouring the artists’ bios, my paper program in full view of fellow riders — advertising that doubles, sometimes, as a conversation starter. But honestly (and I’m talking here about shows I’m not writing about), if the onus is on me to track that information down, there’s an excellent chance I won’t do it. When I turn on my phone, I’ll probably use it to read the news.”

photo of a playbill in hand

We think this is a great point. With a physical playbill, you can relive the moments you saw on stage, and almost continuously enjoy them after the show, just by looking back to the piece of paper. Some people even save playbills as mementos for shows, self-proclaimed ‘Playbill Hoarders’. We know that it’s important for theatergoers to look back on these playbills, as Playbill the company has found much value in archiving their shows in past history.

What do you think about receiving programs or playbills? Do you like the nature of the paper, or do you think the program is superfluous to your theater experience? Let us know, we want to hear from you. Share this blog to your Facebook feed and see how your fellow theater lovers feel.

playbill avenue Q

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from in our inventory. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

What Did You Think Of Rent LIVE?

On January 27, FOX aired Rent Live, a live production of the 1996 Tony Award-winning musical Rent. When the production was live, the musical was a theatrical sensation for fans across the globe. It was a story of speaking out in a world that inhibits you.

When the live production aired on FOX,  some fans were slightly disappointed. Due to an injury to one of the actors during rehearsal, the performance that was aired was a dress performance. The last 15 minutes of the production were live, and this didn’t go over too well with fans.

Check out this article written by the New York Times. “The solution? Much of what viewers would see would be Saturday’s recorded performance, the cast noted in a statement during an early commercial break. The final 15 minutes or so were live; [the injured actor] was at a table, his foot in a cast and propped on a chair. (Hashtags like #RentNotLive and #RentKindaLive trended during the broadcast.)”

“It feels a bit weird to critique what was almost entirely a recorded dress rehearsal. How do you measure three hours of chaotic visuals and middling audio most of us were never meant to see and hear? Mostly in disappointment, I guess, though this is what Fox gave us.”

For Fox to tackle this production was a decision in and of itself. It’s not as colorful of a production as most. Do you think this was the right choice for Fox, given the circumstances?

Live theater means anything can happen, and this is why actors have such important roles. They have much responsibility, but accidents still do happen. For live shows like these, there are no understudies for when actors get injured.

Check out this video of the live performance of “Seasons of Love.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLQO1vT4Lf4

What did you think about the closing scene? Moving and emotional? Everything you’d expect? Let us know what you think. We want to hear from you!

Planning for Spring Productions

Though it’s still February and there may even be snow on the ground, spring is soon approaching, and it will sneak up on us before we know it. February is a great time to start considering your productions for the spring, as the choice and selection of the production is a production in itself! You’ll want to give yourself as long as possible during the consideration stage, tossing out ideas among the team, and discussing budget/feasibility. Read through this blog for tips on planning the spring production.

 

First, begin with ordering a few scripts that you’re interested in. Read through the scripts with the group, and see how everyone feels about the leads, supporting roles, duration of the play, and see what the set would take to build. Be sure the script falls within your budget and timeframe.

Then you can start seeing which of your actors would be interested in auditioning for which roles. Hold read-throughs to see who fits most naturally with which character. When you cast your group and establish your crew, you can take the time to think about budgeting, staging, different scenes, choreography, and music. Some of these elements will be worked through with your director, but during the planning stage, be sure you have everything you need before you begin.

 

As you work through each scene with your director, you’ll notice some things that don’t quite work and other things that work quite well. You’ll have to make some changes as you go, but this is all part of the process.

Many theater organizations hire an outside choreographer or someone to come in and help with direction. Depending on the size and funding available of your organization, this might be a good option for you. Drama clubs often rent backdrops, props, curtains, and more from rental companies. Sets can be difficult and timely to build, so when theater organizations don’t have all of the resources needed in-house, they can rent props to make productions look beautiful, detailed, and complete.

 

It may seem overwhelming when you dive into planning a new show for a new season. Though it is a process, don’t be overwhelmed, as there are many resources and planning tips to help you through. Take things slowly, and plan every detail so your cast and crew are ready to deliver an amazing opening night performance.

 

woods scene backdrop

 

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

Backdrops By Charles H. Stewart Acquires DreamWorld Backdrops

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Charles Stewart
(978) 682-5757
info@charlesstewart.com

BACKDROPS BY CHARLES H. STEWART ACQUIRES DREAMWORLD BACKDROPS
Now With 400 Additional Backdrops Available In Inventory

NORTH ANDOVER, Massachusetts – (February 6, 2019) – Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been a fundamental resource to the world of backdrops and design, offering 120 years of expertise. As of January 2019, Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart acquired DreamWorld Backdrops. DreamWorld Backdrops holds an extensive collection of original, airbrushed, and digitally printed backdrops.

Now owned and operated by Charles H. Stewart, the acquisition of DreamWorld Backdrops is groundbreaking. With 400 additional backdrops now in the inventory, Stewart is ready to deliver an even wider variety of backdrops to clients. The intricate backdrops are designed to accommodate most high-quality productions for theaters, schools, dance recitals, and corporate events.

Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart was opened in 1893 and operated continuously as a family-run business, first under Charles Stewart and then his son, Stanley. In 1990, the Christo family bought the business after a five-year apprenticeship under Stanley’s tutelage and has run it ever since.

The addition of DreamWorld Backdrops supports the family’s belief, and this is evident through a quote from Stanley in a 1983 Boston Globe article. He summarized the backdrop business when he said, “In our warehouse, you see 900 boxes filled with backdrops; what I see is life in those boxes—live performance, artistic expression, and background support for some of the greatest shows you’ll ever see.”

The idea of ‘Life In Backdrops’ is the epitome of this new life and new growth for Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart. Busier than ever with the acquisition, the Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart inventory is now home to roughly 2,000 hand-painted backdrops. This allowed Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart to continue the dream of supporting theater, the arts, and communities alike.

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DreamWorld Backdrops has been a dynamic force in the airbrushed, hand painted, and digitally printed backdrop business in the U.S. since its inception in 1999. Its reputation for superior quality Backdrops along with personalized service has made it a leader in its field. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart is a family-owned business supporting theatrical needs to enhance productions. With over 2,000 backdrops, drapes, lames, and scrims to choose from, they have over 120 years of experience to provide you with the expertise you need. For more information regarding the acquisition, please call Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart at (978) 682-5757.

 

Mary Poppins Returns is, Yet Again, Practically Perfect in Every Way!

In 2018, Disney and theater fans across the world were gifted with Mary Poppins Returns. As a sequel to the original movie, an anticipated 54 years later, Mary Poppins is back with her bag of tricks to help the Banks children. The movie is now finally in theaters, so we knew a blog dedicated to the classic and timeless story was beyond necessary.

There are so many elements of this follow-up of the first movie. Director Rob Marshall knew he couldn’t remake such an original and monumental movie, but he knew the team could still incorporate some elements to keep that same authenticity and bring Mary Poppins back to life.

 

We’ll talk about some of the elements of Mary Poppins Returns in this blog, but don’t worry, no spoiler alerts here. This sequel takes place in London starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, and even includes appearances from Dick Van Dyke! Dick Van Dyke played Burt, the chimney sweep, in the original Mary Poppins. He even gets on stage for a dance number! This is an unbelievable surprise for Mary Poppins fans as he’s now 93 years old!

 

Fans are saying that Emily Blunt is the perfect Mary Poppins, pictured to the right. It really brings childhood memories to life for many when Emily Blunt appears in the sky and descends from the clouds.

 

With the return of some favorite characters from the original, Mary Poppins lovers will not be disappointed. The writers and directors even included the animations that fans loved oh so much from the original version of the film. Animations include the original penguins dancing and tons of colorful, fun scenes.

 

Mary Poppins Returns Poster

 

You can watch the behind-the-scenes footage of how Mary Poppins Returns was made. It’s beautiful to see cast and crew from the original movie on the set of the sequel, commenting about the same energy and passion on set that was present during the making of the first movie. In the behind-the-scenes footage, we also get to see what went into casting the second film, and how important it was to cast the right actors for such big roles. As the original Mary Poppins was cast as Julie Andrews, Emily Blunt opens up about what it meant to play her version of Mary Poppins. We also get the inside scoop from the children cast as the Banks children, and what it was like working on set. The trailers, behind-the-scenes, and introductions to Mary Poppins Returns builds quite the anticipation. When you finally see the movie, you won’t be dissatisfied. It’s practically perfect in every way!

 

When are you going to see the movie in theaters? Tell us how you liked it after you see it with family, friends, and your biggest Disney fans. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from. We are here to serve all your backdrop and scenic design needs.

Detailed, Intricate, Stunning – and All-New For You

At Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart, we’re always adding new backdrops to our inventory. We wrote this blog to highlight some of our new backdrops and give you inspiration and guidance when choosing which backdrops to include in your set design or staging.

 

Check out this elegant drapery backdrop. We added this backdrop to our inventory because we knew our clients would love it. Related products to this novelty, drapery backdrop are extremely popular at this time of year. Use this backdrop for an elementary, high school, or college level dance recital. This backdrop works perfectly for Old English productions and Shakespearean plays and dramas. There are three selections of this backdrop available, all with bright, bursting colors and beautiful, large tassels.

elegant drapery

https://charleshstewart.com/product/elegant-drapery-backdrop/

 

Here’s a new backdrop of a Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City. This one is featuring an elevated train, the George Washington Bridge, and the skyline of New York in the background. This backdrop is made for productions like Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Annie, Hello Dolly, and so many more city-themed productions. With the intricate skylines and beautiful detail in this backdrop, this hanging backdrop can be a captivating addition to your set design.

New York Street Backdrop

https://charleshstewart.com/product/new-york-street-backdrop/

 

Forest backdrops are perfect for productions like Into The Woods, The Jungle Book, Madagascar, Cinderella, The Lion King, and so many more. The extravagant colors, lush green woods, and calming vegetation make for a beautiful background to set the stage.

woods scene backdrop

https://charleshstewart.com/product/forest-backdrop/

 

These backdrops are always in season and work for so many productions. We always recommend productions for certain backdrops to help you categorize and plan your thoughts. If you’re hosting a dance recital, play or production, or holding a celebratory event, a backdrop can bring your event to life in a way like no other. Engage with your audience from the moment the curtain is raised.

 

If you have questions about any of these new backdrops, reach out to us at (978) 682-5757. We’re here to answer your questions and help make your productions a success, every time.

 

Did you enjoy this blog? Share this to your Facebook feed, and let us know what you think. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart has been your leading edge scenic design and backdrop rental company for over 120 years! Come to us with your theatrical needs to enhance your production with well over 1,500 backdrops, drapes, lames and scrims to choose from.