How can I get cast in a play?
Choosing who plays each character in a particular show can be difficult. You can be a wonderful actor, but not be right for every role. There are many factors to consider when casting, and usually a few people have to make the final call –the director, musical director, choreographer; often, the stage manager and other administrative members play a play a part in casting. Obviously if the show is a musical, you have a musical director and choreographer. Sometimes the producers chime in and give their opinion on casting. Ultimately, it is the decision of the director who makes the final call. In order to be cast, you must first Audition.
What is an audition?
An Audition is when an actor performs in front of the people who are choosing the cast for the show. Auditions vary, depending on the show. They can include just straight acting (just a speaking role), singing, dancing, or in some cases, a specific requirement for a particular role, like gymnastics. If the casting group likes the actor, they may call them back to see them audition again – this is appropriately called a “callback”.
What happens at rehearsals?
The rehearsal process always varies, depending on the length of the show, the cast, and the script itself. The cast has to learn the script, how to work together, blocking, etc. It is important to work well as a team during rehearsals, as you have to get a lot done in what is usually a short period of time. Many times things change after you have already learned them, and many things are happening simultaneously, so having a positive attitude and being flexible is very important!
What is blocking?
Blocking is the word used for telling the actor where to go and when. The director blocks the entire play, step-by-step, and then every actor is responsible for knowing their own blocking. This is why rehearsals are so important and why it is very important not to miss rehearsals. If you do, it is the responsibility of the actor to find out what he or she missed from those rehearsals. The choreographer and director do not have the time during follow-up rehearsals to teach those that missed practice. It is your responsibility to learn from another actor on your team.
Do I have to go to all the rehearsals?
No. You will have to go to the rehearsals that your character’s role is involved in. Usually there are days off for most members of a cast at certain points. The leads in plays will have the most rehearsals, and of course, the director will be at every rehearsal! You will get a schedule letting you know when you will have to be at rehearsal.
There are also different types of rehearsal – Dry Tech, Technical Rehearsal and Dress Rehearsal. Dry Tech rehearsals are when the lighting and scene changes are practiced on their own onstage. Technical Rehearsals are combining the cast movements only with the technical movements. This means that the cast does not read lines or do dance moves. They just do entrances and exits so that the lighting and scenery cues can be practiced with the cast. Dress rehearsals are when the cast performs in full costume, with their entire full show, and everything is technically put together. Dress rehearsal is the show performed exactly as the audience is meant to see it. Usually this happens more than once to really nail down all the specifics! Exciting, huh?
Why do I have to be at rehearsal on time? Being at rehearsal on time is a courtesy to your fellow cast mates and crew. You are all working together as a team to get this production going, and if you are not all on the same schedule every time, things will not run smoothly.
May I ever be excused from a rehearsal?
With permission from the director, yes, but don’t make a habit of it. The director notices repeated absences and can note that on your file for follow-up shows. It does not show dedication if you are consistently absent, even if you are prepared and follow-up with a team member. The director needs to see you present as much as possible.
What if I miss too many rehearsals?
Depending on the number, there is always the possibility you will not be allowed to perform in the show. However, who loses out is ultimately the rest of the cast, your friends and fellow actors. Many absences makes for a lack of group cooperation and you let many people down if you show up when you want to instead when you have to.
What kind of behavior/language is unacceptable?
Unacceptable language for any kind in any age group is not tolerated. Showing respect is necessary at any age level. Just because someone is older does not mean that their language should be undesirable to anyone of any age. Please be respectful and understanding to others and obviously younger ears. We will ask you to leave a rehearsal if language is inappropriate.
Why do we need to be quiet and not speak with our friends during a rehearsal?
You will not learn your lines, dancing and blocking, and it is most disturbing to others who are trying to learn. It is disrespectful to talk when someone is trying to give you directions, and we all need to work as a team. The more your production team needs to shush you down, wait for you to be quiet or ask you to listen, the more time is wasted and it can potentially lead to extra rehearsals if work, staging, music and dances are not complete.
Although it might be tempting, please try to keep quiet if you are not onstage. Think of how disruptive it can be when you are onstage and others are in the audience chatting or laughing. Concentration is key while performing. Please be considerate of your fellow cast mates.
When do all our lines/songs need to be memorized? As soon as you get your script start the memorization process. We need to put on a show without holding onto songs and scripts. It is essential. If you have not memorized your lines prior to show time you will have much difficulty. Every cast member relies on each other to know their own lines.
Why do we need to practice between rehearsals?
It is important to practice between rehearsals in order to show up prepared. The more you rehearse at home, the better you will be at rehearsal, and the easier the lines, movements, songs, etc., will seem to you.
Do both men and women have to wear makeup on stage?
Yes, both men and women (and, yes, that is also correct for boys and girls) have to wear makeup. Makeup can make a huge difference in how someone looks onstage. The makeup can help tell the story of the actor, and can help differentiate one actor from another. Depending on the show, makeup can take over an hour to apply to just one person! It is vital that everyone wears makeup to highlight them onstage, whether it is almost invisible, or intricately designed.
Do I have to memorize my lines?
Yes, if you have lines in the play, you will have to memorize them. There are lots of tips and tricks to memorization, though! Recording your lines and playing them over and over again is one tip. Having someone practice with you is another.
Do I get to keep my costume after the show is over?
No; unfortunately all costumes must stay with the theatre company. In many cases, theatre companies wind up doing the same productions again down the road and will re-use costumes, so they save what they have used in the past.
What are the wings?
The wings are the sides of the stage where the actors enter and exit. Props and scenery are also kept here, and actors wait here right before they are going onstage to perform. Be sure to stay clear of this area unless you are just about to go onstage or if you have just exited, as this is a busy area! You also must be quiet, as the audience can usually hear you if you are this close to the edge of the stage.
What is a “cue”?
A cue can be a few different things. Basically it is an indicator that your line is next. Many times it is the line right before yours. Sometimes it is a movement that someone makes, a gesture, or a look. It all depends on the script!
What is “intermission”?
Intermission is the break during the play where the audience can get up and stretch their legs. The lights come on, the doors open, and you are able to leave the theatre to get refreshments. When the lights flicker, it means that intermission is just about over, and you should return to your seat soon before the lights go down again, and the next act starts.
Why are stage directions so important?
It is important for actors to know their stage directions which are taken in reference to the actor on stage and not from the audience's perspective. Center stage is in the center of the stage. Down stage is down closer to the audience. Up stage is up away from the audience and furthest back on the stage. Stage right is the “ACTOR’S” right and not the audience's right as the actor faces the audience. Stage left is the “ ACTOR’S” left and the audience's left as the actor faces the audience.
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