Important Things to Remember for Community Theatre Actors

Many talented people go into an audition with the right stuff for the role, but still, don’t make the cut because of a botched audition.

So you’ve always wanted to play Liesl or Jean Valjean, but you’ve never taken a singing lesson in your life. Don’t sweat it, you can still make the callbacks. There are some easy steps to prepare yourself for an audition no matter what your level of ability, and you don’t have to commit to regular lessons with a teacher.

Choosing the Right Song for the Right Show

The first thing to accomplish is music selection. If you are not sure what the director wants, take a look at the show that is being produced. If it is an older style of music, such as Rogers and Hammerstein, or Lerner and Lowe, then the director will want to hear a specific style of song. If the show is newer, such as Andrew Lloyd-Weber or Stephen Schwartz, he or she will want to hear a completely different style.

  • Watch the movie, if there is one. But remember, sometimes the movies are presented in a way that is not approved by the director, and some directors advise actors not to watch the movie.
  • Go see the show. If you what show is coming up that you might want to audition for, check the listings right away to see if it is already playing in the region. It’s worth the drive.
  • Get to know the character and the storyline. Read the script and find the characterization of the role you’d like to play. Is he high and mighty? Is she sweet and sassy? Practice talking in that way, and then just sing any song you know with that style. Think about Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”

The best policy is to choose a song from a similar character in a show by the same composers. If you are auditioning for Carrie in Carousel, then consider singing a song from Lady Thiang in The King and me.

Prepare Your Audition Song

  • Get heard. The most common mistake is for people to assume they can sing well so they must be able to audition well. Pay no attention to the compliments of family members, they mean well, but they may lead you into a false sense of security. Find a non-biased listener who will not be afraid of giving you constructive criticism.
  • Practice. If you don’t have a piano or can’t play one, find someone who can. You can hire vocal coaches at any college where there is a music school, and there are always piano players who are willing to do the work for extra cash.
  • Sing in the shower. If your only option is the original broadcast recording, then make sure you sing along to it many times, but that won’t be sufficient to learn the song without hearing the original vocals underneath you. Sing the song several times without the accompaniment, but be sure to sing the accompaniment between lines. This will help you to hear the beats and know when to come in next.
  • Count the beats. How long is the introduction? How much music is played between the first verse and the second? If you are not aware of these rests and sing over them, your accompanist will either be confused or try and follow you, throwing you both off.

The Day of the Audition

  • Arrive fully prepared. Have a copy of the music to give to the accompanist. Remember that copyright laws forbid the use of photocopies unless you have written permission. Make sure you have the original, and it must be clear, legible, and not folded or crinkled.
  • Have the right music. Many people bring a vocal line from a show they had previously done. This is not enough. Be sure that your music includes not just the vocal line, but at least two additional staves that include the piano accompaniment. If you only have the vocal line, it must at least have the chords written out, but don’t expect every pianist to handle this smoothly.
  • Be kind to the accompanist. Pick a song that is not outrageously challenging to a piano player. Most of the time they are sightreading this. If the key is too hard or the music too fast or complex, your performance may be detracted by the pianists struggle to keep up.
  • Smile and sell it. That’s what the directors really want. Are you a joy to watch on stage? Or is it a chore just to let you finish the song. Regardless of whether you can sing all the notes, are you acting the part? Are you engaging the audience? Do you believe what you are singing about? Don’t just sing the notes.

Most importantly, make sure you ask other actors for some tips. It’s important to make friends in the theater community, and it can be beneficial to share information about the best audition practices.…

Tips for Entrances and Exits

Hand puppets can be a wonderfully entertaining and educational tool for audiences of all ages. These tips will help puppeteers perform smooth entrances and exits.

In live performance, before a puppet ever opens its mouth to perform for a skit or song, the puppet must enter the stage. Since the entrance is the first thing the audience sees, a professional style entrance can enhance the credibility of the program and “set the stage” for the whole performance.

Puppets should not instantly appear on stage as if they have just taken an elevator or been beamed up (except for humorous effect). Instead, practice the staircase technique. This technique works best for hand puppets that perform above a curtain, while the puppeteers remain hidden.

Staircase Technique

  1. Begin with the puppet’s head just below curtain level.
  2. Keep the puppeteer’s wrist relaxed, hand closed, and forearm straight.
  3. Move the puppet up and forward a few inches at a time with a smooth, subtle bounce. This gives the illusion that the puppet is walking up a staircase behind the stage.

Unless the puppet has legs that will hang over the front of the stage, the puppet’s waist (bottom) should remain an inch or two below curtain level.

Rule of Thumb for Posture

  • After the puppet has entered, the puppeteer’s arm should extend at a right angle to the floor.
  • As a rule of thumb, performers should keep their elbows next to their ears to keep the puppet standing nice and straight. This gives the puppet show a more professional appearance and prevents the audience from getting sore necks from watching crooked puppets.

“No Broken Arms” Exits

Exits are reversed entrances with two extra considerations:

  • Do not break or dislocate the puppeteer’s arm
  • Do not break or dislocate the puppet’s arms

To make the puppet turn around before walking it down the staircase, the puppeteer will need to turn his or her arm around too. If puppeteers turn the puppets away from themselves, their elbows will get twisted backward. Puppeteers who turn the puppet toward the puppeteer will find this makes the exit much smoother and more comfortable.

The puppet’s arms may end up resting on the stage, especially if they are not attached to rods. If puppeteers attempt to exit the puppet from this position, its arms will fall off the curtain long after the rest of its body has gone down. Ouch! Broken arms. Simply make sure that the puppet’s arms are off the stage before it takes its exit to avoid the appearance of broken arms.

Puppeteers should practice entrances and exits many times, preferably with a partner watching to offer corrections and feedback, so that the entrance and exit techniques become habits that can be used for any performance.…

Shakespeare’s Final Play

An intriguing play, The Tempest is now one of Shakespeare’s most popular works, but this wasn’t always the case.

It is believed that Shakespeare’s The Tempest was written between 1610 and 1611. However, there are researchers who argue that the play may have been composed earlier than this. Unlike other Shakespeare plays, The Tempest does not have a known source material, which leads some to state that it is the only Shakespeare play with a completely original plot. That said, the play does contain themes found in Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the work of Michel de Montaigne.

History of the Play’s Performance

Despite containing many aspects that would seem to appeal to an early 17th-century audience, such as colonialism, shipwrecks, and commedia dell’arte, history suggests that The Tempest did no make much of an impact in its day. After the reopening of the theatres, during the Restoration, adapted versions of the play were performed, but not the original. In fact, it was not until the mid-1800s that theatre companies began to stage Shakespeare’s version of the play.

In more recent years, The Tempest has been re-evaluated by critics and scholars. Consequently, the play is now rated among Shakespeare’s best.

Synopsis of The Tempest

The play opens aboard a ship that is being ravaged by a huge storm. Soon, the passengers and crew are shipwrecked and find themselves on a remote island. The audience learns that Prospero, a powerful sorcerer, has caused the wreck to exact revenge upon his brother who usurped his position as Duke of Milan.

The action of the play takes place on the island, which Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, were banished to twelve years previously. The only native inhabitants of the island are Caliban, a deformed and allegedly monstrous creature, who hates Prospero for claiming the island as his own, and Ariel, a spirit who has agreed to serve Prospero in exchange for eventual freedom.

Lack of Action in The Tempest

One of the most intriguing aspects of The Tempest is that it does not contain any real action and there is no sense of forwarding motion in the plot. Much of the ‘action’ of the play is conducted off stage, for example, the usurpation of the Dukedom, the attempted rape of Miranda and the shipwreck. In addition, the vain attempts to kill the King of Naples and the drunken efforts of the sailors and Caliban to disable Prospero are all doomed to fail.

Moreover, the romance between Miranda and Ferdinand is established at an early point of the play. Therefore, the audience is treated to the comedic bungling of the drunken Trinculo and Stephano, and the exaction of revenge upon Sebastian and Antonio.

Theatrical Devices Used by Shakespeare

The Tempest is one of only two Shakespeare plays that conform to Aristotle’s three unities. Interestingly, the other is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, The Comedy of Errors.

Intriguingly, The Tempest does not shy away from addressing the subjects of theatre and acting. In this way, it could be said that The Tempest has a post-modern slant, (although the theory of postmodernism was not coined until nearly 400 years after Shakespeare’s death) because Shakespeare frequently draws similarities between Prospero’s magic and the art of theatre. This, of course, is not unusual for Shakespeare, as he makes many references to theatre and the art of acting throughout his works.

Shakespeare also courts a controversial subject with the inclusion of magic within the play. Again, this is not unique; there are elements of magic in many plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. However, in The Tempest, Shakespeare is portraying a rational human practitioner of magic, which is extremely unusual and accounts for play’s initial unpopularity.…

Lens color and UV light absorption are considerations to discuss with an eye care practitioner when choosing lenses for AMD.

Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an eye disease that affects central vision. The most usual cause of severe vision loss, macular degeneration usually affects people over the age of 60 to 65. AMD causes problems with perception, impairs reading and driving but it does not cause blindness.

Wet and Dry AMD

Macular degeneration the part of the eye called the macula which is located in the retina’s center. AMD, or age-related macular degeneration, creates a blind spot in a person’s central vision. According to The Ohio State University Medical Center, there are two types of AMD, wet and dry.

Most degeneration is associated with natural aging but some types can be caused by heredity or medicines. Dry AMD is the most common type of macular degeneration and is age-related. Wet AMD is more severe and is caused by new blood vessel growth behind the retina and a blind spot caused by leaking blood.

Changeable Lenses and Color Variety are Important for Macular Degeneration Vision Problems

Transition lenses, also called photochromic lenses, are sometimes prescribed for AMD because they change from nearly clear indoors to darker outdoors. This type of affordable lenses provides clarity of vision and comfort for someone with macular degeneration.

The technology used for the most popular brands of photochromic lenses is owned by Transitions Optical, according to the All About Vision website. Most people refer to photochromic lenses as “transition lenses.” Changeable lenses are sold by many lens manufacturers, but Transition Optical is the most popular.

Photochromic lenses come in a variety of colors and materials.

Ultraviolet and Blue Light Filtering Lenses for AMD

Changeable lenses filter blue light and 100% of UV light, which is important for anyone with macular degeneration. Some sunglasses have UV protection but the blue light filter is also an important feature of AMD eyewear.

Help for Color Distinction and Reduced Contrast with Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration reduces the ability to distinguish color and detail and also causes reduced contrast vision. The Dr. Bill Takeshita Foundation website notes that certain lens colors can help a person with AMD distinguish details better. Eye care practitioners are trained to help patients with AMD to select the best type of lens color for specific AMD problems.

Specific lenses help with contrast vision, which is important for perception or low vision associated with macula problems. A yellow or brown tint or contrast filter will help a person with AMD be able to see a curb or step when walking. Gray and green lenses help provide comfort from glare and sensitivity to light that is associated with macular degeneration.

Reduced Glare and Specialty Coloring of Transitioning Lenses for AMD

Most photochromic lenses work by because the material in the lens reacts to UV light. However, car windshields absorb UV light and prevent the lenses from darkening. Transition Optical has created a new lens technology called XTRAcitve that darkens inside vehicles. Drivewear Lenses developed by Younger Optics changes color when worn inside a car and is also polarized to help reduce glare.

Corning’s CPF glass photochromic lenses have the option of a specially selected red color for macular degeneration and lenses that cut glare that is prescribed specially for AMD patients.

Additional Considerations for AMD

Regular eye examinations are important for people diagnosed with macular degeneration. Eye doctors usually ask patients with AMD to monitor their symptoms at home by checking their vision often with an Amsler Grid.…