Have you ever wondered what it takes to design a set for a show? Robert Boccabella of Business Design Services, is here to tell you the process and the details of the set design for Driving Miss Daisy by the Lake County Theatre Company!
Online theatre is now a forced frontier. As time progresses in this interesting and introverted period of history, creatives everywhere are scrambling to find a way to keep creating. Here in Lake County, we are no different. Statewide restrictions have changed the face of theatre, hopefully only temporarily. In its fifth year, Shakespeare at the Lake is a co-production of Mendocino College and Lake County Theatre Company, this year presenting Romeo and Juliet. Of course, this year was different. We went from outdoor Shakespeare to online Shakespeare: the following discusses how we adjusted to digital performance.
The biggest challenges became finding the technology to deliver the program, connecting to one another in a convincing way, and creating a theatrical sense of setting with photographic visual language. Some positives: the circumstances created extra time to work on the language, and a unique respect for the work, and the opportunity to work, from everyone involved. Overall we pulled off a completely unique dramatic offering, and had a good time doing it.
Moving On- …line
Moving the show online presented many challenges. Technically, socially, interpersonally, and emotionally, the obstacles mounted. We had several questions to answer. How do you go from everything physical to entirely virtual? What computer tech and applications will we need? How can we keep or enhance the interactions between actors, that social component of a theatre group which forms a cast into an ensemble. How do we bridge the emotional space between characters to bring a believable performance? Once we got the green light from the college administration to go virtual, we set to work answering these questions.
From the outset, we liked the format of a radio play, as it allows the mind to create its own imagery, similar to reading a book. At the same time, the tradition of attending Shakespeare at the Lake is an outdoor experience. We wanted to replicate how our particular setting, the scenic beauty of Clear Lake, plays a major role for every Shakespeare at the Lake production. I think we found a happy medium. By bringing some scenery and sense of place, yet not showing the actors, we allowed audiences to create most of the world mentally.
The technical challenges of this show confuse me still. I remain very grateful to know technical advisors who saw through the chaos and found the means to deliver a director’s wild whims with finesse. They gave solid sound support to the story with FX and music, and delivered an audio / visual package that lived up to the director’s dreams. How, you may ask?
Over several drafts, we mapped out the flow of voices, sounds, and pictures, searching for a means of delivering a digital performance with the highest possible fidelity. We faced the challenge of balancing sound through teleconferencing apps, and the need to couple the sound effects, music, and video.
Also, we battled feedback, as an open mic in the tech room causes a disorienting feedback loop. Through trial and error we blended two Zoom rooms, one for the actors and one for the audience, and used OBS, a broadcasting tool, to blend the actors’ sounds with the FX and visuals (from PowerPoint).
All in all, it turned into a puzzle that we solved.
The tech room – with five computers, two soundboards, four headsets, extra monitors and a serpentine mass of wires – created a framework to unify all of the cast’s voices, plus sound effects, musical effects, and a visual parade through Lake County.
Now we needed to bring the performance to life. Thankfully we had a cast up to the task as well.
In a virtual setting, the actor faces several challenges. How will actors project a sense of presence to an audience they will never see or feel? Accessing the physical side of a character is essential for actors. So sitting in front of a laptop on Zoom creates a real obstacle to the actors’ work.
Secondly, what can possibly replace theatrical awareness, a pressing momentum that fills entire theatres with wonder? A play’s momentum builds from the awareness of each other, actors, audience, and all, being in the same space at the same time. In this shared space, all involved live through a story from start to finish with no pause button or rewind.
Also, how will actors connect with one another across the divide of teleconferencing technology? Actors thrive from each other’s energy. With the distance between us in the virtual world intensified by the weeks of lockdown we faced at the beginning of rehearsal, actors longed for a means to connect.
Actors rely on physical relationships with other actors to show the audience what is happening. Directors rely on blocking, moving characters around the stage, for the same reason. Without this, we must create this context in a soundscape, particularly in expressive use of the voice. Ultimately, we had to trust in the actors’ creative spirit, and their instinct to connect beyond the restrictions of the form. In the end I think they did quite well convincing audiences of a fictional community that comes to life.
How they did it remains a mystery to me. We did take some steps to help. We allowed time for the cast to bond as a group. Once a week we would spend half an hour of rehearsal time just visiting. I felt this may help to bridge the social gap created by tele-meetings. Many of us met through online rehearsal, and still have yet to meet face to face. But we got closer.
In the beginning, the shared times were strained and awkward, like many forced social settings. By the end of the rehearsal period, people would stay during their breaks to chat, and really try to get to know each other. I think the instinct to connect with others, vital to theatre as a whole, deeply affected this show.
One big difference holding rehearsal in Zoom, it meant extra time to focus on the text. In Shakespearean plays the words hide so many levels of communication. Emotions, actions, and even clues about the social order dwell within the elevated language. Every year we spend a lot of time breaking down the language. But in person, at some point we put the talking aside and start moving – and then the actor’s instincts start flowing as the text and the body connect.
With no need to study blocking, the actor is focused entirely on the text. But acting uses the whole body. How can we replace that? About two thirds through the rehearsal period, actors began turning off their video feed. Seeing yourself on video is like acting in a mirror, which is problematic. Also, being on video, others can see the actors more clearly than ever. Both make an actor self-conscious in rehearsal. Now, with cameras off, the actors can move about freely, and characters begin to take shape.
The actors are not the only ones challenged by the new setting. We are also challenging our audience. In a radio play, we do not get to watch the action of the play, and we lose all of the gestural language of the characters. So we used the extra time to invest in a deeper understanding of the text to make up for this loss. Character work, textual analysis, and the search for the characters’ intentions needed to be developed more than ever.
Shakespeare at the Lake aims to show off the natural beauty of Lake County. When we moved online, we puzzled over how to do this in a radio show. We decided to use photos of the area in a dramatic way to enhance the story. We added some visuals with scenic photos from the area. To keep it theatrical, we used a foam board model of the stage and placed it in different settings for photo shoots. This playful connection to a sense of space inspired me.
We added amazing scenic photos from cast and crew members. It is simple to get good footage of beauty when you are surrounded by it, like we are in Lake County. We coupled this with interesting angles of the stage model in natural settings (sometimes digitally altered). By combining these visual aesthetics (nature in its glory beside a cardboard and cloth model) we made our own virtual village of Verona. To keep the audience guessing, we added some abstract moments, and even a digitally enhanced crowd at the party.
We used sound effects to create more atmosphere. We added original music, composed specifically for this show. It was added from the tech room – some recorded, some played live while we performed. All of this got blended together (on soundboards and computer apps) and sent into the audience Zoom room. After the show was complete, the actors would move from the actor room to the audience room. We would have some Q&A and talkback time. Closing night we even had a digital cast party.
We got the opportunity to play in an entirely new format. When difficulties arose, I would try to remember this. People’s advice to me often included phrases like “working without a manual” or “no playbook” or “uncharted territory.” This provided some comfort. But the challenges were far outweighed by the process. In being able to connect with others in a meaningful way, we created a short lived theatre group just like any other play. We became friends, and missed one another when it ended.
This format we created technically forced actors, whose craft already relies on trust, to push that trust even further. I thank them all for trusting in me to pull something together that we can all look back on with joy, and maybe a little pride. I thank them for trusting each other as actors do, to create a world that fulfills the Bard’s words created so long ago. But most of all, I thank them for the absolute trust and faith needed when it came to the presentation technology. The actors met in a different Zoom room, where they could not see the visuals, and could barely hear the sound effects and music. Their faith that it was all paying according to plan elevated the show. No hesitation entered into their performances.
Finally, and happily, opening night magic happened, even online. I was amazed to see the growth of characters during rehearsal. As a director, the evolution of roles through rehearsal is everything. But in theatre, opening night magic sees a whole new level of connection between characters. This happened on virtual opening night as well. The cast jelled, and everyone’s characters grew into living, breathing people. Actors explored new, subtle ways to express the words and the work, and the town of Verona, put up in cardboard and cloth buildings, explicitly and distinctly came to life.
When restrictions on gatherings began in March, we had already begun planning for Romeo and Juliet outdoors. Then word came out that Mendocino College would be moving to remote learning for summer. LCTC petitioned the administration at Mendocino College to allow Shakespeare at the Lake as an online performance. I am still thrilled to continue this process in whatever form it could take, and thankful to LCTC and Mendocino College for the opportunity.
Dramatic arts may be changing in the face of this global pandemic, but at the heart it is the same. It is a gathering, and brings a sense of purpose and community to performers, technicians, and audience alike. It provides an outlet for the creative spirit, as well as a tonic for the isolation these times bring.
John Tomlinson is a member of Lake County Theatre Company. He has directed several shows, most recently Oklahoma!, Chicago, and the Taming of the Shrew. As the Program Director for Shakespeare at the Lake, he has directed five Shakespeare at the Lake performances. John teaches Theatre Arts and Film at Mendocino College Lake Center and Woodland Community College, Lake County Campus.
The Lake County Theatre Company will abide by all social distancing requirements both in the creation of our productions and in the presentation of them. We are very hopeful that we will be together again soon. In the meantime, please watch this slide show.
Now that all the students are out of school, it can be a challenge for parents to find resources for making sure their child has a well-rounded education. The ARTS are an important part of that education. Children use the skills they learn in other areas while they are singing and acting. Think of it as a “tool” to use all those other subjects and be creative!
As children play, they develop fundamental cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills. Young children also learn practical life skills such as dressing themselves, how to cooperate, and share with others. Playing is a child’s way of engaging, and pretending creates alternate realities to the real world. There are 3 different types of play that ACTING can fulfill.
Pretend play allows children to experiment with and learn about the power of language, how it affects us and those around us. It also helps them to understand that words give us the means to re-enact situations, to put our point across and to make ourselves heard and understood.
Dramatic play encourages children to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Such role-playing helps them to improve their ability to do this in real life. They learn important social skills, such as empathy.
One of the reasons imagination is so important is that it helps children to understand the world around them. Imaginative play allows children to express themselves verbally and physically, act, react and interact, and try out different roles and scenarios within safe boundaries of their own making.
We have put together a list of YouTube videos that you can use to help your child express themselves through acting! We hope you find this helpful and fun!
“How You Say It” Acting Game for Kids
Acting For Kids (by Kids)
Kindergarten Theatre 4 Vocal and Physical Warm Up
Theatre Game – Spaghetti
Acting Exercises for Kids
Three Ways Acting Exercise
Drama Games for Primary School Students
By John Tomlinson
Auditions. The word alone brings a simultaneous joy and fear to those who know. However, even those who know the actor’s perspective may not know the other half of the story. I thought it may be useful to share some audition tips. I will share the most useful tips for the people reading this in our small rural local community theatre group here in Lake County, CA. OK. Let’s get ready to auditioooooooooooooon!!!!!
Do everything you can to be ready for an audition. Most of our auditions locally use sides, or scenes from a play. Other auditions may even call for a monologue. Make sure to get a copy of the material and familiarize yourself with the character you are reading. Reading the entire play will give you the best idea of the complete story of that character, and what the scene means in the bigger picture.
Practice as many times as possible before the audition. If possible, many actors will visit the place where the audition is being held before the audition date. It can help the process of visualizing success when we know that actual space we plan to occupy in the future. Visualizing success before an event is known to lessen feelings of anxiety. Because, nerves.
First of all, anxiety is an issue for every actor at auditions. Every. Single. Actor. We all know this, performers, directors and casting people included. Rather than succumb to this, or even worse, tell the casting group how nervous you are, try to gain control of your nerves. Take some time to get yourself focused. Take some deep breaths. Lean into the natural tension created by this situation. Let it create a wave of excitement that drives you into a sharper focus. Directors appreciate focused energy. What better way to show this than as your first impression?
Entering into the room
Speaking of first impressions, the moment you walk into the room yours begins. Now for our group at LCTC, most of the time we know each other, so it is not literally a first impression. Let’s face it, when casting locally, masking the surprise is hard when someone we don’t know walks through the door for an audition. I have even heard a fellow casting peron gasp once or twice when someone new walks in. Still, whether the actor is familiar or not, we look for signs of how well a person fits into a role right away. Come in with your game face, give a hello, and go to your spot to start your work.
Where to stand
I know, I know, “go to your spot” sounds like dog training. But where to locate yourself in the room is important so I had to get your attention. Think of this: the room becomes yours, philosophically, once you enter. I see that mindset as crucial to succeeding in auditions. Take a position in the center of the play space, which should be evident from how the room is set up. You don’t have to stay there, (we will explore that more later) but use this as a starting point.
Now, also think about sharing the space as well. Start at least 6 feet back from the audition table. If you stand too close to the audition panel we can not see all of you, and, honestly, it’s a bit awkward. On that note, we want to watch your scene, not be in it. Breaking the fourth wall by making eye contact with the panelists, or even worse using them as part of the scene, is also awkward and should be avoided.
Be free and explore, create.
Before you cry foul at all of the limitations here, let me now encourage your sense of autonomy and freedom. Move! Use the space. Don’t let your character show up only to grow roots into the floor and barely move their arms at certain planned moments. Finding a physical connection to the script helps us see the possibilities of your version of a character. It also puts those pesky nerves we talked about earlier at rest so you can function more fluidly.
Don’t just wander around without purpose. When you are practicing before the audition, find things in the script that move you. Literally. Where are the moments of emotional connection most evident to you in the scene? That is likely a good moment to move. Experiment with moving at different times, in different ways, and monitor how you feel about the different moves. Use the physical movements which work best to shape your performance.
We want you to win
If anything, I hope to give you one key piece of insight. We want you to get the role. We want every next person that walks in the room to be the one, like Neo in the Matrix. We come looking for a solution to our casting issues, and we always hope for good news. We want you to succeed. I often find this comforting. I am not going before a group of people that are waiting for me to finish and leave. Rather, they were looking for me to be, well, what they were looking for. This makes me feel more welcome, which gets me in a ready mood.
Let it go and then let it go
So there you are in the middle of the play space; poised, prepared, not looking me in the eye. What now? Now it is time to cut loose! Let all of your preparation shine through and knock our socks off! You built this performance, practiced many times, and visualized success. You held all of that in until now. Now, let it go! Put everything you prepared out there into play. WHEW! And then, let it go.
This work is exhausting. You did it. Say thank you. Wait for your cue from the panel to know if they want to discuss anything more, or if you are finished. And then depart. Walk away and leave this behind for now. Don’t spend time second-guessing, wondering what if, or entertaining any of the many troubling thoughts one can find after an audition. Instead, go do something entertaining for yourself. Or go get some ice cream, or chili cheese fries, or an ice cold beverage. Get a massage or mani-pedi. Hang out with some friends. Rejoice. It was a big day. Be nice to yourself. You deserve it.
John Tomlinson is a member of Lake County Theatre Company. He has directed several shows, most recently Oklahoma!, Chicago, and the Taming of the Shrew. As the Program Director for Shakespeare at the Lake, he has directed five Shakespeare at the Lake performances. John teaches Theatre Arts and Film at Mendocino College Lake Center and Woodland Community College, Lake County Campus.
Lake County Theatre Company
I have some ideas of plays that I’d like to see LCTC perform. Who do I give my suggestions to?
Thank you for asking. Actually, we have been asked this question quite a bit. The short answer is, the Play Selection Committee. Who are they, you ask?
The Lake County Theatre Company consists of many individuals who work together to bring to you, our patrons, the shows that we present. The Play Selection Committee does just that!
The members of the Play Selection Committee consists of anyone who is a member of LCTC and is interested in exploring different theatrical performances that may be of interest to our patrons. The committee starts looking at scripts in January/February for the season that will presented starting in July the following year. For example, in January/February of 2020, the committee will be looking to fill our 2021/2022 Season (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022). That seems like a long time, however, by the time the members read several scripts, discuss them, find directors for the shows, and research performance venues, they are often pressed for time to present the new season line up to the Board of Directors by December of that year.
Many people have asked how they can make suggestions of plays to LCTC. The answer is that you can attend a Play Selection Committee meeting at any time and let us know your thoughts. The meetings are publicized through our newsletter, on our Facebook Page, and on our website (LCTC.US). If you are unable to attend the meetings, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to continue to provide shows that our patrons are interested in seeing. Please, let us know your ideas!!
Why is LCTC using a computer for the music in the musicals rather than a live band?
That is an excellent question. For four shows (South Pacific, The Producers, Oklahoma, and now, Chicago), LCTC has been using a computer to generate the orchestral music for their musicals. There are three major reasons (and some minor reasons) why we are doing this.
First, in a small community like Lake County, the available of musicians to fill all of the parts required by these major musicals is very limited. In fact, the program we use is geared for Community Theater Companies who are in exactly this position.
Second, the cost of hiring musicians is far more than the cost of the computer program and the Music Director to operate it. Our shows cost approximately $20,000 to put on. Using live musicians would add $10,000 to $15,000 to the cost of the show as they are paid for rehearsals and each performance. The computer keeps the tickets at a reasonable price for our patrons.
Third, using the computer reduces the amount of time for rehearsal for the show. Using live musicians means that not only does the cast have to rehearse, but the musicians must also rehearse. The music for these shows is very complex which would require extensive rehearsal on the part of the musicians. Having the computer allows us to not only reduce the rehearsal time, but also to provide our cast with the exact music that they will be using for the show during their rehearsals. This builds confidence and a much more polished performance.
The computer is not the same as using a Karaoke track. The difference is that with Karaoke the singer has to be able to time their performance to the speed of the track. The computer is flexible. The Music Director operating the program is actually following the performance on stage and timing it to the actors. This makes for a seamless performance and a lot of flexibility on stage.
We hope that when you come and see our shows that you will be very impressed with the quality of the music and the performance as a whole. If you want to see more about what the computer is about, visit the “Orchestra Pit” at the foot of the stage during intermission or after the show. We’ll be happy to show it to you!
I thought that the LCTC Bylaws dictated that there should be elections for the Board of Directors. I understand that we installed a new Board at the July meeting, but I don’t remember getting a chance to vote. Can you explain?
Thank you for that great question! Under the Bylaws, the Board of Directors has the option to not have an election if there are either not enough people to run for the Board, or they have the exact number of people needed to fill the vacant positions on the Board. This year, it was the later. We had exactly enough people who were interested in serving on the Board as we had vacancies. Therefore, the Board opted to save money and not have an election. Here is the section of the Bylaws that deals with Elections of Officers:
5.5.4 Election of Directors
Directors shall be announced at the annual meeting, having been elected by an authorized ballot previously mailed or emailed to the membership. Ballots listing the candidates for the Board, their qualifications and a personal statement, will be mailed or delivered by email to the entire membership at least 30 days and no more than 60 days in advance of the annual meeting. Ballots will allow write-ins. Ballots must be received at the Corporation’s PO Box, or by online response, prior to the annual meeting. Ballots shall be tallied at the annual meeting by three members of the corporation membership, selected by the Board, none of whom currently serve as Board members or who are candidates for the Board. Vacancies on the Board shall be filled in order of the candidates receiving the most votes. To be elected, any candidate must receive at least 50% plus one of the votes cast. Results of the election will be announced before the close of the annual meeting. Directors-elect shall assume office on the meeting immediately following the election. If the number of qualified board candidates is less than or equal to the number of vacancies, the sitting Board of Directors can choose by unanimous consent to accept the candidates presented, versus calling for a general election.
From the Director, John Tomlinson
In theatre vocabulary you will find two kinds of beats. One is pretty simple, while the other is a bit more complex. An actor may hear two common usages: you hear the phrase “take a beat,” or you hear there is a “beat change.” These terms are not interchangeable. In this article, we intend to have a look at both, and understand which is which..
The first kind of beat is synonymous with a pause. A director might tell an actor take a beat before speaking. Typically this might be used as a moment to reflect internally. Or perhaps it is time to take in an action or speech by another character. At any rate, it means basically the one simple thing, take a short pause, take it all in, and then move on with the action.
The idea of a beat change exists within the theory of modern acting, so explaining it involves several concepts. To understand that beat change, we need to understand objectives, intentions, and tactics as well. We will take a brief look at all of these, before we come back to a beat change, and how it is used.
In the theory of modern acting, it is commonly accepted that every character has an objective, for some goal that they wish to achieve. People refer to objectives as an intention, a character’s motivation, their goal, and probably many other things. It all boils down to the characters core, human desire for fulfillment. It is a style of acting, or way for performers to connect with the material, that is based on the psychology of characters and, what they have in common with the rest of us in real life.
The actor’s job includes using the script, research, and their own knowledge to determine the objectives and intentions of the character. We talk about a character’s super objective, and what they want throughout the entire play. Next we look at a character’s objective or intention within a given scene. How does that intention within their super objective?
The system, known as Psychological Realism, helps actors give a believable sense of character to the audience. So designing and creating a role based on your understanding of a characters psychology makes sense. It is important that every action suits the audience’s perception of what is believable. Therefore an actor must study well not only the character, and what makes sense psychologically. Actors also must know a little about audience perceptions and expectations.
It’s a highly developed skill to develop character thoroughly to its potential.
One funny thing occurs when basing a role on what a character wants, and it often confuses actors. Honestly, most of the time on stage characters do not get what they want. As in other stories, a play’s characters face a series of obstacles, people or events, or even physical limitations that keep them from getting what they want. A character’s intention can be thwarted several times throughout a play.
This is where tactics come to play and beat changes are related to tactics. When a character is met with an obstacle, quitting is not the typical response. Characters typically press on. But they don’t just do the same thing. In line with their intention, characters change their tactics in order to persuade or change the mind of the character presenting an obstacle. This change of tactics is known as a beat change.
Here’s an example. You have decided your character is motivated by attention. The other characters in a scene want an answer from you. This is great! They are paying attention. So you are happy to answer. But then they have what they want so they stop paying attention. What can you do to get their attention back? Dance? Sing? Change your story? Make up a new story? That is when your tactic changes. And that moment of change is a beat change.
Beat changes keep acting fresh and in the moment. If a character, or actor, just tries the same thing over and over it becomes repetitive. Look for the changes in the script that signal a beat change and change your tactics accordingly. Signals for a beat change include a change in mood, emotion, or topic. Use these moments to change your approach, and this will help bring your character to life!
Help! I tried out for a show and I got a part! I’m really excited, but as I am reading the script, I see a bunch of terms that I don’t understand …. upstage, downstage, aside … what does it all mean?
Congratulations and welcome to theater! There is a whole set of terminology that goes along with learning dialogue and being on stage. Here’s a list to get you started! Break a leg!
AD LIB – Spoken words (sometimes witty comments) said out loud that are not in the script. They can also be given “off the cuff” when another actor forgets a line.
AFFECTIVE MEMORY – (Or “Remembered emotion”) Memory that involves the actor personally, so that deeply rooted emotional experiences begin to respond. The actor’s instrument begins to awaken and he becomes capable of the kind of living on stage which is essentially reliving.
ANTAGONIST – The antagonist opposes the action. This means it is the main character that creates obstacles and challenges for the protagonist.
AUDITION – A tryout for a film, TV or stage role. Usually auditions involve reading from the script, but can also require improvisation, singing and/or dance.
ASIDE – A part of dialogue that is directed directly to the audience or away from your scene partner as an internal thought. Very common in restoration comedies and Shakespeare.
BACK TO THE TOP/TAKE IT FROM THE TOP – The verbal cue for performers to return to the mark where they started the scene.
BEAT – A deliberate and slight pause (short or long) in dialogue or an action. Most normally in dialogue to emphasize emotion or thought. This is a very complicated concept. Stay tuned … next month you will learn more about beats, beat changes, and why they are important!
BIO – Short for “biography”. A resume in narrative form, usually for a printed program or press release.
BLOCKING – The movement of the performance. Where you walk, sit, cross the stage, enter, exit, etc. A director will usually ‘block’ a scene early in the rehersal process. Blocking can range from being very general (enter here, exit there) or very specific (pick the pen up on this line, sit on the sofa at this line, etc.)
BOOTH – The area in the theatre with the light and sound boards. Usually in the back of the theatre facing the stage.
CALLBACK – Any follow-up interview or audition.
CALL TIME – This is the time that you are called to be either at the theatre, typically and hour and one-half or so before the show starts..
CASTING – The process of selecting and hiring actors to play the roles and characters in a production. In film, the lead roles are typically cast or selected by the director or a producer, and the minor or supporting roles and bit parts by a casting director.
CENTRAL CONFLICT – The oppositional force between characters that directly affects or motivates the action of the plot.
CHARACTERIZATION – The actor using their craft to explore and develop the specific qualities of a character.
CHEAT – The actor’s adjustment of body position away from what might be absolutely “natural” in order to accommodate the audience; can also mean looking in a different place from where the other actor actually is.
COLD READING – Acting done with the script in your hand, unmemorized or partially memorized. Usually you will have less than one day to prepare.
CONFLICT – An essential and vital element of acting that involves the obstacles and struggles (inner and outer) that a character must overcome to reach their objective.
COSTUME FITTING – Just like it sounds. You will be fitted for your costume by the costume designer or assistant. Usually you will be measured early in the rehearsal process and fitted with your costume later. This can be an especially long process for period costumes.
COSTUME PARADE – At some point in the rehearsal process the actors will all ‘model’ their costumes or costume for the director. He/She will then either approve or discuss changes with the costume designer.
CUE – The action, line, or phrase of dialogue that signals your character to move or speak.
CUE-TO-CUE – A tech rehearsal where to save time, action and text is cut out between cues.
DEADPAN – A specific type of comedic device in which the performer assumes an expressionless (deadpan) quality to her/his face demonstrating absolutely no emotion or feeling.
DIALECT – A distinctly regional or linguistic speech pattern.
DIALOGUE – The scripted words exchanged by performers.
DOWNSTAGE – The front of the stage, towards the audience. (Theatre stages used to be raked on an angle tilting towards the audience. That is where the term originates.)
DRESS REHEARSAL – Rehearsal with all technical aspects and costumes and makeup.
DRESS THE SET – Add such items to the set as curtains, furniture, props, etc.
DRY TECH – A rehearsal, usually without actors, when the director, stage manager and designers work out all the light and sound cues.
EMOTIONAL RECALL (or Emotional Memory) – The emotions from an actor’s memory (long or short term) of personal experiences that are used to connect the actor to the character, and meet the emotional needs of the situation in the play or film.
EPILOGUE – A speech or short scene that sometimes follows the main action of a play.
IMPROVISATION – Setting out to do a scene with no pre-planned or written idea. A process leading to spontaneous discovery that allows the actor to find real, organic impulses within themselves.
IMPULSE – A natural response that an actor responds to in the moment.
INDICATING – Showing what your character is feeling or doing without really feeling or doing, leading to a false and shallow performance.
INNER ACTION – A physical action verb chosen by the actor in the pursuit of an objective. It always begins with the word “to” i.e. to attack, to soothe, to tickle.
INNER MONOLOGUE – A character’s active, imaginative inner thoughts while the actor is playing a role.
INSTINCT – A compelling or powerful impulse.
INSTRUMENT – The actor’s collective working of the body, voice, mind, and imagination.
LIGHT BOARD – Either manual or computer operated. Operates the stage lights.
LIGHT CUES – A change in the stage lighting.
LOAD-IN – The process of bringing the set into the theatre and assembling set pieces.
MARK – The exact position(s) given to an actor on a set to insure that he/she is in the proper light and camera angle; generally marked on the ground with tape or chalk.
METHOD ACTING – A generic term used to describe the acting philosophy of using personal emotional experiences in acting, as first introduced to the Western world by Stanislavsky and furthered by members of America’s Group Theatre in the 1930’s. When used today, “The Method” most often refers to the deeply personal emotional work taught by followers of Lee Strasberg, one of the Group Theatre members, and can be summed up as: “Training the subconscious to behave spontaneously.”
MONOLOGUE – A scene or a portion of a script in which an actor gives a lengthy, unbroken speech without interruption by another character.
MOTIVATION – The Why? The reason a character pursues a particular objective or super objective.
OBJECTIVE – A character’s pursuit of a specific goal in a scene. Also referred to as the intention or driving question.
OBSTACLE – The conflict and stumbling blocks to a character’s struggle in pursuit of an action or objective.
OFF BOOK – You have your characters lines completely memorized. Usually you will have a deadline by which you need to be memorized or ‘off book’.
ON BOOK – With the script in your hand. Usually refers to the time you are working with the script taking notes on cues and blocking, and working on memorizing your lines.
PACE – The speed at which you pick up your cue and deliver the next line of your dialogue. Pace can also be the speed that creates a style for the piece.
PANTOMIME – An art form related to dance; not to be confused with “silent scenes” or a “scene without words.”
PICK UP – Starting a scene from a place other than the beginning.
PLAYBILL – A program usually containing information about the play, cast, crew, supporters, and advertisers.
PLAYWRIGHT – A person who writes or adapts properties known as plays; in most traditions, the first and most creative artist of all those who collaborate to make theatre. It is the playwright’s property that stimulates the impetus for a full-fledged production. In musicals, the writers include the writers of the music, the lyrics, and the book.
PROJECTION – A director may tell you to ‘project’ more. This means to speak so that you can be heard throughout the theatre, this does not necessarily mean more volume or shouting. It’s a technique you will learn.
PROPS – Any objects used by actors in a scene.
PROTAGONIST –The protagonist carries the action. This means it is the main character who pursues a goal that drives the plot.
READ THROUGH – For theater and some on-camera. This is usually the first rehearsal when the actors sit and just read through the script with the director.
RESUME – List of credits, in the professional world, attached to an 8×10 headshot.
‘RHUBARB’ – Background conversation by extras. So-called because extras were often asked to mutter the word “rhubarb” to produce the effect of genuine conversation, with their mouths moving convincingly. Also known as “walla”.
SCRIPT – The written form of a screenplay, teleplay, radio or stage play.
SCRIPT ANALYSIS – The close study of a play or screenplay. This incorporates all of the dialogue and stage directions to find the answers necessary to create a full and rich character and to craft a performance that serves the script. The exploration of the script may include the questions of theme, story, character, and overall elements of the play and characters.
SENSORY – Connecting the character to the body and mind through the senses; to taste, hear, feel, see, think, perceive; to know through the physical inner self, as opposed to the instinctive.
SIDES – Pages or scenes from a script, used in auditions or (if on a film set ) those scenes being shot
SIGN-IN SHEET – A sheet at the rehearsal where actors will sign
SOLILOQUY – A speech given directly to the audience, ordinarily with no one else on stage. Usually played as a direct address to the audience, sometimes played as a character thinking aloud in the audience’s presence.
SOUND CUES – Sound effects (music, doorbell, a car door, dog barking, etc.).
SPEED THROUGH – A rehearsal exclusively for lines. Actors recite their lines quickly without blocking. This is often to help the actors with memorization.
STAGE DOOR – A back entrance to the theater used by the cast and production crew. Want to catch a glimpse (or the autograph) of your favorite star after a show? This is where you want to be.
STAGE MANAGER – The person who will become your best friend. This is the person who runs the rehearsals, sets the rehearsal schedule and usually ‘calls’ the show (prompts the light and sound cues from the booth during performances). He/she is in charge of the production after opening night.
STAGE RIGHT – To the performer’s right side, to the audience’s left side. Likewise, STAGE LEFT is to the performer’s left, the audience’s right. Stage directions are for actors, not audiences, therefore they are always given from the actor’s point of view facing the audience.
STAGE WHISPER – Sounds like a whisper but is loud enough for the audience to hear.
STRIKE – After the final performance, the set is taken apart, lighting instruments are taken down and props and costumes are put away. This is called ‘strike’. Actors will be asked to volunteer to help.
SUBMISSION – An actor’s or agent’s suggestion to a casting director for a role in a certain production.
SUBPLOT – A secondary, subordinate, or auxiliary plotline, often complementary but independent from the main plot (the A story), and often involving supporting characters; not the same as multiple plotlines; aka the B story or C story.
SUBTEXT – The character’s complex thoughts, feelings, motives, etc. created and layered under the actual words and actions of the character by the actor.
TECH REHERSAL – Technical Rehearsal. This is when the director will work the set, lights and sound cues into the rehearsal process. This usually takes several days and is long and boring for the actors. Tech is very important and actors must stay focused and be patient during this process. The focus of the rehearsal is solely on the technical aspects of the show. It is for the technicians and the designers, and the ‘acting’ must take a back seat.
TEMPO – The level of speed with which the scene or play is acted out. The general effect creates a specific mood or tone to the work.
TRIGGER – An emotional or physical signal that stimulates or sparks a bonfire of emotion to break through to the surface.
TRIPLE THREAT – Refers to actors who can sing, dance and act skillfully and equally well on a consistent basis; usually applicable to performers in the musicals genre; it also could refer to a person who can act, direct, and screenwrite!
UP STAGE – (a) The area located at the back of the stage. Down Stage is the area in front of the performer. (b) To draw attention to oneself at the expense of a fellow performer.