Making the Jump from Amateur to Professional Theatre

Making the Jump from Amateur to Professional Theatre

So, you want to work in professional theatre? That’s a question that I have been asked many times but didn’t always know how to answer. And up until recently, was also something that I didn’t realize that I really wanted. Mostly because for me, doing theatre at any level besides community was just a pipe dream. I used to say that someday when I am working on Broadway but didn’t believe it.

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College Auditions: The Parent Perspective

College Auditions:  The Parent Perspective

By now, you’ve completed some auditions and may still have a few more to come.  Depending on the school, you may have already received acceptances and rejections.  If this process didn’t seem real to you yet, the moment is about to arrive. Don’t worry--I’ve got your back on this, parents.  You and your student will survive and thrive, although you’re probably both going to have some scars to prove it.

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‘Intimacy director’ helps stage actors navigate love scenes

‘Intimacy director’ helps stage actors navigate love scenes

Towards the end of John Dryden’s play, All for Love, there is a scene in which Antony and Cleopatra declare their love for each other as they near death.

In the University of Alberta’s Studio Theatre’s production of the play, opening Thursday, the actors are expected to demonstrate those feelings physically.

There was a time not long ago when actors might have been left to their own devices to make such passion look convincing, without it getting awkward, triggering uncomfortable emotions or crossing the line of consent.

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You Wish to Go to the Festival?

You Wish to Go to the Festival?

Every odd numbered year, the American Association of Community Theatres hosts AACTFest, a nationwide theatre festival showcasing the best of community theatre around the country.  It is a culmination of months of smaller festivals, starting in the individual states, then moving on to surrounding regions, with the Regional winners being invited to a host city to perform their 60 minute show in front of appreciative audiences of like minded theatre aficionados.

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How Do You Feel When You Screw Up on Stage?

How Do You Feel When You Screw Up on Stage?

We have ALL been there. There are many times that we’ve been on stage and suddenly forgotten our lines, cracked while belting out a song, tripped and fell, forgotten a prop, missed your cue, I could go on and on. I will tell you that ALL of these things have happened to me.

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Auditioning: Why Wasn’t I Cast?

Auditioning:  Why Wasn’t I Cast?

Auditions.  We’ve all been there.   Trying to channel your nervous energy into a productive adrenaline.   Hoping to put your best foot forward.   Wanting to make a great first impression.    Anxiously waiting until your number is called.   Finally, taking the stage for a minute or two, and giving it your best shot.   Maybe you get another chance to read.  Maybe even a callback.  And then waiting … and waiting … and hoping and praying.   Hopefully, you got the part, but more often than not, you didn’t.   So, what went wrong?  What, if anything, can you learn from this experience?

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The Impenetrable Wall of Theatre

  • Mia Stubbings

It's sometimes really easy for me to view the theatre industry as an impenetrable fortress. A really intimidating, steel-walled, towering fortress. I've heard it's great on the inside; people make things and create productions and explore their passion for live performances and stagecraft. But on the outside, it can be a pretty cold and lonely place. It's like all your resources are on the inside, but you're stuck on the outside, trying to peer in.

Unfortunately, that is how I sometimes feel. No matter that I love theatre with every ounce of my being, or that it's the one thing that makes me truly happy- it's still an industry that is notoriously tricky to get into. I know this because I've been trying to climb that steel-walled fortress for three years now, but my ladder just isn't quite tall enough. It can be a depressing thought, and the reason many people give up and try something else, but I don't feel like giving up is an option. I will get inside, and I will make theatre, but not knowing when is what makes it difficult.

I have had some fantastic experiences since leaving school and having the freedom to explore my interest in theatre. I've worked as Front of House at a rural theatre, marketing the new shows and creating events to help spread the word about productions touring to our little venue. I've worked with a theatre company who I have adored since I was a little girl, and lived the dream by working on their productions including 'Wind in the Willows', 'Macbeth', 'Much Ado About Nothing' and 'The Legend of King Arthur'. I've shadowed a brilliant mixture of directors, on productions ranging from the Jacobean tragedy 'The Duchess of Malfi', to a devised piece with classical music for children called 'Hubbub'. I've loved all of it. But so far, the experiences I have had are just glimpses and snatches of what I want to do all day, everyday. I'm plunged into a world I love for the briefest of moments, and then pulled right back out. 

Pursuing a career in theatre is tiring and difficult and frustrating, but those brief moments are what keep me going. When I'm in a rehearsal room, that is when I am truly happy. When I am surrounded by a team of people who share your passion and your vision, that is when I know that my efforts haven't been in vain. I'm getting there. Just very slowly.

I think it's difficult for a number of reasons, but I'm trying to change my mindset and view these difficulties as strengths rather than weaknesses. Living in a rural village has meant that I have had to actively look, and find, and sometimes even create, my own opportunities. But although I find my geography my biggest barrier, it can also be my biggest strength. I have a passion to make theatre accessible to everyone, no matter where they come from, and I think this comes from living in an area that sees very little in the way of live theatre. I love touring companies, because they travel to many different places in the country, and bring productions to people who may never have had the chance to see them. I visit London a lot, but I find it hard to connect with the theatre there, because all I can think is that people living in villages like mine, probably won't get to see these shows. And so this thing, living in a village, the thing that I have always viewed as a weakness and a disadvantage, has become my strength. It's something that I can use to my advantage as I carry on trying to climb the Impenetrable Wall of Theatre. 

For me, I only realised that I wanted to pursue a career in theatre when I started on the wrong path. I took a path somewhere else, and realised that I needed to go back and start again. So I did, but it's taken a long time for me to figure out where my place is in the theatre industry. I still don't fully know, but I've got an idea. This has meant that I've been able to explore a vast array of different roles and have a lot of different experiences, from directing to prop making, to film making and marketing. I see all of these experiences as equally valuable, and I've started to view life as one big experience. I want to collect as many experiences as possible, whatever they are, because they will end up giving me plenty of stories to tell. And that is important to me. 

I have recently realised that it is children's theatre that I really want to create. I like to see 'Grown-Up Theatre', but it doesn't often get me excited or passionate. Stick me in a rehearsal room for a children's production, however, and my brain goes wild and my imagination starts to whizz about in a frenzy. I know this can only mean good things. I know what I am passionate about, and that's a good thing to be able to recognise. I am passionate about inclusive, accessible theatre. I am passionate about children's theatre, and I want to learn more about how story-telling is possible through the use of puppets. If that's not a good place to start, then I don't know where is.

But that's the thing. You get excited when you finally figure out what it is that you want to spend the rest of your life doing, but you don't have a clue how to get there. And that is infinitely infuriating for me. There is no definitive path or method or way to get into that fortress. You have to make a way in for yourself, and you have to keep at it. Opportunities can be sparse, and it's up to me to facilitate them for myself when there aren't any around. It's all up to me, and that is both reassuring and terrifying. But I'll get into that fortress, one way or another, whether that be with a ladder or a disguise or a month digging a tunnel under the foundations; there's a way in. I've just got to find it. 

Audience Member Etiquette for Millennials

Audience Member Etiquette for Millennials

Hi my name is Alex and I am a Millennial. Something I really hate to admit. 

As a performer and a theatre goer and fellow millennial, I have seen the decline in the audience member. They have no clue as to how to behave at a show. And to be perfectly honest the "normal" theatre goer is dying out. I also blame social media and reality TV, and guess what? I blame my fellow Millennial's. Our attention spans suck. 

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That’s Why They Call It “Casting”

That’s Why They Call It “Casting”

As Casting Chair of my local community theater, I think a lot about the process of casting our shows.  While the goal is always to find the ideal fit between auditioners and available roles, the reality is that we often have to compromise.   Unlike Broadway, we usually don’t have the luxury of picking people who perfectly look the part, fit the age range, and have the exact vocal range suggested by the script or score.  So, we make do with what we have.   In a sense, casting is like fishing.   We cast our line into the water by posting a carefully crafted audition notice.   First, we get some “nibbles”; expressions of interest on Facebook.   Then we see who we catch on audition day.  Many are not “keepers,” and often we have to throw them back (gently) into the pond.  But if we keep an open mind, we’ll often be pleasantly surprised by the talent we land.

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A Professor’s Recipe to Electric Musical Theatre Stage Presence

A Professor’s Recipe to Electric Musical Theatre Stage Presence

Stage Presence.  Star Quality.  The X-factor.   Whatever you call it, it is the difference between an adequate actor and a good actor and often times, between a good actor and a star.  Many people say it is an indefinable quality that someone is either born with or not.   As a college professor who is charged with teaching students how to be solid actors and musical theatre performers that does not cut it.  It is my responsibility to teach my students everything in my power to make them stronger and “you’ve either got it or you don’t” is a mantra that does a disservice to my students and my profession.  

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