Guides and Tips, Theatre

Every Theatre Company Should Have a Patreon: Why, How, and Assorted Tips for Creating an Online Income Stream

If you’re not yet familiar with it, Patreon is a popular website that allows fans to pledge monthly subscriptions to creators they love. In return, fans may receive exclusive rewards, and the knowledge that they’re helping their favorite artists or personalities thrive. The site has been used to great effect by YouTubers, podcasters, musicians, Twitch streamers, writers, and graphic artists, to name a few: more than 5 million patrons use the site each month and have contributed over one billion dollars to their favorite creators to date. For some, Patreon is a source for some extra pocket change. For others, it’s a primary source of income.

Enter the theatre company.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

The 5 Most Important Learning Objectives From Every Theatre Degree Program— And how to Achieve Them Independently

A college degree simply isn’t the best choice for everyone.

I’m not in the business of discouraging anyone to go to school for theatre. I always stand in support of theatre majors. However, in education, the phrase “one size fits all” is a harmful myth. For many, a college education just doesn’t make sense. Besides the obvious (and woefully often overlooked) point that the traditional higher education setting isn’t the best learning environment for everyone, college is expensive, and theatre majors are too often reminded of the fact that all the money spent for tuition still can’t guarantee future employment.

Many agree that the degree itself  is not the most important outcome of a college education in theatre. Rather, what you receive in return for all that tuition is valuable training and professional connections. As the official degree is the only thing a traditional college path can boast over independent study and on-the-job experience, some are more suited to seek training outside of a college setting, preferably at a much lower price point.

So what exactly should one get from their theatre degree program? And how could they go about getting those without pursuing the degree at all?

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

3 Definitive Traits That Make you an Excellent Performer

I’ve been around a lot of performers, in a lot of different settings. I’ve directed, I’ve taught, I’ve acted, I’ve watched from the audience and from the stage manager’s booth. Every performer is unique, and everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Yet, in all of the actors, dancers, and musicians I’ve worked with, I have found that there are exactly three traits every truly excellent performer has in common.

These traits are instrumental to success in the performing arts. You won’t get very far without them, and having them can put you on top in close auditions.

If you can honestly say you have these three traits, then pat yourself on the back! If you’re not so sure, read over this article closely and do what you can to pick them up immediately.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

How to Practice Show Material at Home Effectively

In my adventures (and misadventures) as a middle school musical co-director, I find the phrase “please work on this on your own time” within my top-five most said in rehearsal. As an adult involved in community theatre, the same sentence is probably within my top-five most heard phrases as well. Most performers will agree to practice at home in earnest, but often find themselves at a loss when it comes time to do so. How can we make at-home rehearsal feel as useful and efficient as rehearsal with our peers?

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

Why Singers Shouldn’t Strain for High Notes, According to Physiology and Anatomy

You’re probably not being told everything you need to be the best singer you can be.

Singing is at once an intricate art and a complicated science. We often forget about the science part, because it’s not usually the most visible facet of singing– when we hear incredible singers, we are typically drawn to the depth of their emotional performance, not so much their ironclad technique and mastery of their bodily “instrument.”

Any vocal teacher worth their salt should spend time discussing both the science and the art. Proper understanding of human anatomy and physiology as it relates to the voice will be necessary to produce sound in a healthy, pleasing way. Strict scentific understanding alone nonetheless won’t make someone a great performer if they’re unable to harness and use artistic expression to their benefit. The science is in many ways rather instinctual to humans– we’re born able to produce sound and typically start singing even before we start speaking. As we age, we tend to become less free with our emotions and more reserved, and so the emotional work of singing can become the most pressing matter for many voice teachers. Many new voice students need a lot of help expressing themselves with some small technical pointers along the way. This generally yields passable enough results. Besides, most students aren’t seeking long term careers in singing, and don’t really have enough use for the complicated scientific teaching as would make the effort to teach and learn such principles worthwhile.

This unbalanced treatment, however, means that many beginner and even intermediate singers never fully understand the science behind their voices, and therefore get overly wrapped up in the emotional side of things. We put so much weight on emotion and see so much emotional power in great performers that without scientific understanding of the voice, we assume emotion will be enough to power us through nearly anything. “Pushing” or straining is associated with heightened emotion, and assumed to be the necessary “secret sauce” to make difficult voice work happen. This is not the case.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

If you Absolutely Must Drink That Pre-Show Energy Drink, Make Sure you do it in a Healthy Way

I get it. Your energy is running low, you’re craving that (artificially) sweet, sweet burst of caffeine to jolt you awake. You want to put on the best show you can and need the energy to do so. You need to get your energy quick if you’re going to get it at all.

Enter the energy drink.

Much has already been said about the dangers of energy drinks, and it’s true that there are many other far healthier and far more efficient ways to bring about a feeling of wakefulness. For the purposes of passing complete information along to my readers, I’ll touch upon alternative options and health risks briefly, but that’s not the main purpose of my article.

This article goes out to the employee who woke up at 7:00 to work eight hours and then drives straight to the theatre for call. The average working/school-going/child-raising/all-of-the-above person who can’t stop for a nap or a quick cardio session, and needs to get some sugar and caffeine into their system right now goddamnit. This article is for you.

Here’s how to drink an energy drink before a show in the most health-conscious way possible.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

Where to Grow Next: Self-Evaluation and Targeted Practice Recommendations for Performers

Do you feel like you are falling behind compared to some of your performing peers? Do you feel that you have plenty learn, but aren’t sure where to focus your energies next? It might make you feel better to know that lots of other actors and artists feel exactly the same, but that knowledge alone won’t help you become a better performer.

When you feel like you’re cornered in terms of growth and improvement, one of the best things you can do is stop and take stock of where you currently are. Self-evaluation is something most performers do on the daily already. What if we harness that often-negative energy and use it to help you grow in a positive way?

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

3 Small Things That Have a Huge Impact on Your Voice

We all know there’s no such thing as a vocal “cure all” that will instantly make you a great singer. Learning some vocal technique and theory can help you get better with practice, but these sorts of skills take time to master. Let’s say you wanted to help make yourself sound as good as possible as quickly as possible– what would you do?

Here’s three suggestions that are easy to tackle and yield clear results fast.

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Guides and Tips, Theatre

The Ultimate Guide to Warming Up

I’m a bit of a warmup enthusiast. I take warming up vocally very seriously. I always feel like I get back 10 times the vocal energy I put in, and it’s so worth it. I’ve talked at some length before on this blog about how important warming up is and why everyone should do it, but I’ve never provided much actual insight into how to do it.

Part of the problem there is that warming up is a very personal process. I can’t tell you what will work best for you. In this article, I’m sharing what works best for me personally. My goal is to present many ideas that you can use and modify as you see fit.

This guide is divided into five sections: Why Warm Up, Pre-Vocalization, Beginning Phonation, Singing, and FAQs.

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Guides and Tips, Uncategorized

My Favorite Strategy for Learning a Role: Engage Your Senses

 

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.

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