Tag Archives: Tips

Tips For Spring & Summer Auditions

Spring and summer pose awesome opportunities for actors. When spring musicals come around, and new shows are being cast in the summer, there are some awesome tips and tricks actors can use to practice and rehearse to help them during auditions.

Warm Up Properly

raw honey

The seasonal change brings about so many different temperatures in the air. You’ll want to make sure you warm up your body and your voice properly. Going from rainy days to hot days, and in and out of cold, air-conditioned environments, you’ll notice this takes a toll on your vocal cords, throat muscles, and your diaphragm. Pay attention to how your body feels during each season to make sure you’re warming up properly and safely.

Steam for Your Throat & Vocal Chords

One really helpful warm-up tip is to use steam or a vaporizer before auditions and productions. Steam clears your nasal passages and relaxes your body. It allows you to breathe deeply and purely. You will notice clarity in your pronunciation and dictation when you’re rehearsing, warming up, or preparing for auditions.

Honey 

Honey helps to coat your throat with a smooth sweetness. It’s used often by actors and vocalists. With the pollen in the air and all airborne allergies, honey can help you build your immune system while keeping your throat safe and strong. Put honey in some hot tea, iced tea, or try some honey sticks.

Water & Hydration

fresh clementine

Drinking water, eating well, and staying hydrated are important. Throughout the spring and summer, you will notice your body is drained from the weather and the sunshine. Eat foods with lots of vitamins and calcium. You will already be getting vitamins from the sun, so be sure your water and food intake matches the same level.

Exercise & Stretch

Stretching your body and exercising helps maintain a healthy immune system during the spring and summer. When you stretch your muscles, full body, and especially your upper body and diaphragm, preparing for auditions will come naturally for you.

exercising and stretching outsid

 

During auditions, you want to show your best skills and features, and be the best actor you can be. Despite the allergies and the up and down changing temps of the weather, you can still prepare and take care of yourself. Stay up to date with our blogs to read about all things theater.

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.

Tips for More Efficient Set Designs

Set design is one of the most important aspects of the production. The set design team has the responsibility of creating a dynamic set that not only agrees with the consistent theme and genre of the production but is also easy to lift and quick to assemble and disassemble. Read this blog to learn how you can better design your set for efficiency, functionality and, ultimately, success.

Before you dive into what you need and want for your next set design, decide what you don’t need and want. Rid the possibility of any clutter in your set design or on your stage, as it’s distracting to the audience and can get in the way of your production. Every piece, prop, and accessory is placed on set for a reason! Don’t include unnecessary or superfluous items in your set. Decide what you really need, and scratch the small details that you think are unimportant to the plot of the story.

 

 

Think about the size and weight of your props. Heavy props may lead to someone tripping, dropping something, or causing an accident on set. When props are included in any scenes, lightweight materials really come in handy. Heavy props can make it look like the actor is struggling to move or pick up something, and you wouldn’t want them to struggle or stumble. As the curtain is up, ensure all main props used by actors are light enough and easy to manage.

 

 

Investing in materials that are lightweight will allow for ease and efficiency throughout every aspect of the production. It makes switching scenes a breeze for the set and crew. When your materials are lighter, the team can move more quickly and easily. This keeps your audience more engaged with less waiting time between scenes and transitions. Consider lightweight wood, plastic materials, and props that can hang or be put in place effortlessly.

 

 

Consider your stage, the seating of your audience, and the auditorium you’ll be in when performing. This will help you plan your set design. You want to make sure your props are visible from all angles and seats in the house.

 

 

If you’re looking for a backdrop to put the finishing touch on your set design, consider renting a backdrop. Backdrops by Charles H. Stewart are easy to hang, durable, lightweight, and absolutely stunning. You can find a backdrop for almost any production imaginable in the inventory.

 

Think outside the box with your set design. Just because your props will be lightweight and easy to manage does not mean they can’t be intricate and unique. Decide on a theme for your set design. Are you going with the “less is more” theme? Or are you going to include simple yet multiple props in every scene? Each production will entail a different set design.

 

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.

 

Answering Basic Questions

  • What suggestions do you have on choosing a backdrop for a dance or for a whole dance recital?

Obviously, the first question to be answered is what is the theme of the dance or show?  Once that is determined, finding an appropriate backdrop is relatively easy.  Our backdrops are broken down into categories and by show.  So if someone is looking for a garden backdrop, they should go to our Garden category.  If someone needs a backdrop for Beauty and the Beast, then they can go to our Beauty and the Beast selections.

  • If a studio owner can only have one backdrop for the entire show, what would you recommend?

If only one backdrop can be used, then the owner really has to decide what the overall theme for their show will be.  We could provide a great backdrop for a small portion of their show, but the backdrop might not fit the rest of the show.  My suggestion is that if there is more tap, jazz, and hip hop, then one of our abstract or novelty backdrops would be an excellent choice.  If the show is more of a ballet, maybe a softer scene like clouds or a sunset for example would be the choice.  Another option would be to use different colored lights on a cyclorama curtain.  A simple lighting change can turn the mood of the stage in an instant.  But again, it really is up to the director.

  • What information and dimensions do studio owners need to know before renting a backdrop?

The first thing they should do is talk to the stage manager where they are performing.  They can tell you what size backdrops the venue can accommodate.  Also, when finding out the dimensions of the stage, make sure that when you get the measurements to ask if that is the wall to wall measurement or the proscenium measurement.  Also, ask if the venue can adjust the proscenium for different size backdrops.  For instance, if the venue states that the backdrops should be 22×50, ask if they can mask down the proscenium for an 18×42 or even a 15×36.  It usually isn’t that difficult to drop a border or pull in the wings unless the battens are dead hung (i.e. they don’t drop to the stage).   Now if it’s a small stage, the larger backdrops might be difficult to use.  Another bit of information that would be helpful is to find out how many battens are at your disposal for hanging backdrops.

  • What is the difference between a hand painted and digitally painted backdrop?  What are the pros/cons of each?

Well, we only deal in hand painted backdrops.  Obviously, the hand painted backdrops are more theatrical since they really are a form of art.  Sometimes the digitally printed backdrops aren’t as clear as you might think.  Some can be a little blurry.  The fabrics used for each are different as well.  The hand painted backdrops are typically painted on muslin or scrims and are easy to fold and store.  The digital backdrops are usually printed on a polyester blend fabric and are meant to be rolled.  However, new technology with softer fabrics is starting to emerge.  The digital backdrops are more expensive to produce and not readily available for rent meaning if you want a digital printed backdrop, it would more than likely have to be a custom made one.

  • What are your tips on hanging backdrops for studio owners that have never done so before?  How does a backdrop get hung and what do studio owners need to know ahead of time?

All of our backdrops have grommets and ties across the top for hanging.  You simply tie the backdrop on to one of the stage battens.  One question to ask the stage manager is if the bars can lower down to the stage.  If they do, hanging a backdrop will take about 5-10 minutes.  If the bars do not lower to the stage, then you will have to go up and down a ladder or cherry picker to hang the backdrop, and it will take about 30 minutes to hang one backdrop.  Side note, if you use a cherry picker, please be careful of the lubricated parts of the machine.  If a backdrop comes in contact with the grease, the backdrop will get stained.  And it’s a nasty stain to try to get out.  When hanging, start from the center and work your way out to the ends.  The center line on the backdrop is marked on the back.  The center of the stage should be marked on the bars.  If you have more backdrop than bar, just fold it back and tie it off behind the rest of the drop.

  • What tips do you have to have backdrops look best without wrinkles?

Wrinkles are tricky.  You cannot iron or steam the backdrop.  That will damage the curtain by activating the paint creating water stains or paint runs.  So, my best advice is to hang the backdrop at the venue as soon as possible.  The first chance you get to hang them up, do it.  Second thing to do is make sure that you weight the bottom of the backdrop.  All of my backdrops have a pipe pocket along the bottom.  Ask the venue if they have weights for this.  The weight simply uses gravity to pull the fabric tight to eliminate the wrinkles.

  • How should backdrops be folded for storage or return shipping?

We store our backdrops wrapped in plastic bags inside of cardboard boxes.  The plastic is an extra layer of protection from moisture and dirt.  So when the backdrops are received, they will arrive as such.  There will also be folding instructions inside the box.  There are different ways to fold a backdrop.  We have our own preference which are included in the instructions we provide.  But, the bottom line is to fold them neatly so that they fit back inside the box for shipping.  We also request that our backdrops be placed back inside of a plastic bag and inside the box just like when they received it.  If anything happens in transit, and the backdrop has not been wrapped in plastic and damage has occurred, the customer will be responsible for the damage.  So, when you receive the backdrop, save the box, the bag, and the instructions and repackage the backdrop the way you received it.  If the bag and/or box gets thrown away or is not fit for shipping, then the customer is responsible to get another box and bag for the return.  And lastly, before you lay the backdrop on the stage for hanging or when you are taking it down to repackage, sweep the stage.  We don’t want the backdrop used as the broom especially when you have any of the white or black curtains.

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.

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. There’s still much you can do! 

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. You just have to find what works for you, and your group of kids. We have gathered some tips to help you ensure a successful school production.

Tips For Your 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.

Choosing the Right Production

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.

Creating a Calendar

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.

Choosing Roles & Assuring Equal Attention in Rehearsal

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.

No Show Or Production is Perfect!

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!