Finding the perfect present for theatre fans can be hard. Still looking for gifts for the theatre lovers in your life? No worries! Here’s ten suggestions to get you started.
Everyone can learn to sing.
No, no, save your protestations.
Everyone can learn to sing.
“Well not me, I’ve never been able to–“
EVERYONE CAN LEARN TO SING.
I’m coming off my bask-in-the-glow-victory-lap after closing a successful production of Little Women at a local community theater. This whole show (and the months leading up to it) were rife with stresses, but the entire production ended up being a testament to hard work paying off, in a variety of ways.
Allow me to tell my tale.
Extracurricular activities are the bread and butter of young people’s routines. The right extracurriculars can improve grades and overall classroom performance, boost college admissions rates, and teach students valuable and necessary life skills. Time in the day is limited, so choosing the right extracurricular activities is crucial for using yours effectively!
If you or your child are looking for activities to meaningfully fill free time (and have a lot of fun doing it), look no further than the performing arts! Theatre especially is a fantastically diverse program that encourages the growth of many skills and comes pre-packaged with a ton of benefits. Not convinced? Here’s fifteen research-backed reasons theatre is the extracurricular activity of your dreams.
Auditioning for musical theatre is difficult. Simply working up the courage to put yourself out there creates a huge hurdle to surmount even before the actual rehearsal process begins. Even more unfortunately, casting is a highly subjective process, meaning that most audition goers end up disappointed in the end. While adult actors are relatively conditioned to brush off such upsets and keep going, for young actors, the disappointment attached to casting can be crushing.
Many young actors quit shows and never return to performing in the wake of cast list catastrophes. They might feel like they’ve exerted enormous effort for no reason, or like they’ve embarrassed themselves by doing poorly, or that they simply weren’t and can’t be good enough to land the roles they want. These feelings can end passions for acting before they even have a chance to catch on!
If your child has been burned by a poor audition experience and unmet casting expectations, they might be inclined to turn away from acting altogether. However, theatre is a great opportunity for young people for a multitude of reasons, and this is a great opportunity to teach your child about the growth mindset and the value of “failing” with grace. Here’s how you can turn a seemingly negative cast list into a positive life lesson for your child!
Guido Contini is the energetic centerpiece of the musical Nine. He is a celebrity superstar, an actor and movie maker who writes, directs, performs in, and subtitles his own movies. He is a playboy control freak with charming film-biz charisma who compartmentalizes his life’s worries and deals with problems as they arise. The show is his world as he sees it– a thrilling voyeur’s vantage into the mind of a director of peerless talents.
In the face of his ever-fluctuating work atmosphere, seemingly the most constant thing in Guido’s life is love, and a never ending assortment of it, in many various forms. Through the show we meet his four loves, each occupying a different role in his life: His wife, his mistress, his muse, and his mother.
A while back, I saw a Facebook post where some theatre folk were sharing their theater culture’s pre-show traditions. These are always wildly different, but invariably bizarre, fun, and full of energy. The comment that made me stop and think was one about a high school’s pre-show activities for their production of Rent. The poster said they typically did some fun sort of hype-up activity, but didn’t do it for their more serious shows– Rent included– because it wasn’t appropriate.
This took me off-guard. Sure, Rent is a serious show, but it’s never one that I’ve considered so overly serious that any celebration beforehand is bad. In fact, after some thought, I’d wager even the opposite- that Rent is serious, and you must celebrate. The seriousness of Rent isn’t the most important part of it. Rent is about much more than dying of AIDS and battling drug addiction. These are present and powerful entities in the show, but they are never the most important piece. Rent is, at its core, a celebration. Rent’s message is not one of sorrow and regret, but one of celebration in spite of, and even of, death itself.
If you’re involved in theatre in any way, then you’ve definitely heard the phrase “there’s no small parts, only small actors” at least once– and probably far more than that. When I was younger, I figured this was just untrue. There are small parts, I thought, that’s just a fact. Some parts are on stage less, or have less lines. They’re small, but that’s not the actor’s fault.
Clearly I wasn’t alone in this sentiment and clearly I’m still not, because I constantly hear stories about actors quitting shows because they didn’t get a “good” part.
This idea among young theatre students– that there is indeed a “small part”— feeds into multiple bad behaviors that not only makes their acting worse but can make entire shows worse. In fact, I’d say that dispelling this myth is one of the most important things a director can do right off the bat to make sure their show has all the power it can have.
So let’s establish something right now– there is no such thing as a small part.
Following up my previous list, here are even more reading suggestions for actors and fans of theatre. Once again, this list is organized roughly from “easier, conversational works” to “textbook-style information”.
About a year ago I listened to to an episode of the Kwik Brain podcast all about hacking your brain in order to learn lines more efficiently. I’d recommend anyone looking for some new strategies check out the episode and the second part, too. However, of all of the concepts presented in the two episodes, only one strategy has really stuck with me and become a crucial part of my preparation for a show. I’ve now used this strategy to learn several roles, and am always eager to share with others, because it has been a game changer.
This strategy is to engage all of your senses.