We are excited to announce new features for StageAgent members! First, on many of our show guides you can now take fun quizzes and earn points and badges. Further, to help you with class and preparation work, we have added a new section with two and three-person scenes from plays. And lastly, Pro members can now post unlimited job and audition opportunities to the StageAgent jobs board.
Our expert-written show guides help you study about the context, plot, and characters from plays, musicals, operas, and operettas. With our new theatre quizzes, you can test yourself on how much you have learned after reading selected guides. Question types include multiple choice (both single and multiple answer) and true/false and are typically worth 5-10 points each. If you pass enough quizzes, you’ll start to earn fun badges based on the following point scale:
Drama students are commonly assigned to work with partners to perform scenes from plays. However, finding and choosing the right scenes can be overwhelming. We now make this scene research process easier with our new play scenes tool. In the StageAgent scenes library you can search play scenes by length, number of male or female characters, style (comedic or dramatic) and period (contemporary or classical). For each scene we provide you with some scene context, the starting/ending lines from the scene, citation information to help you locate the script, and links to the character descriptions.
Featured Job/Audition Opportunities
We have expanded our auditions section to include not only performer auditions but also theatre jobs of other types including artistic staff, backstage and administrative jobs. If you are a StageAgent Pro member you can post unlimited jobs and auditions to the StageAgent theatre jobs board. So if you are a producer, you can use StageAgent to recruit performers, musicians, backstage personnel, and executive staff. Keep in mind that not only will your job or audition posting be listed on our website, but it will also get e-mailed out to our email list with 50,000+ subscribers!
We hope you enjoy these new features. Stay tuned for many more enhancements to come! If you have any suggestions for how we can improve StageAgent, please let us know.
I’m sure we all remember it, heck, we might even be living it right now. Those halcyon days of educational theatre, where we spend months rehearsing a show, only to perform it two or three times over the course of a weekend in May. All that preparation, all that work, only to get a couple of cracks at glory.
That’s a reference to a typical high school schedule, where you must work around numerous conflicts and extra-curricular activities. By the time we’re in college, rehearsal schedules tend to clock in at 5 to 6 weeks, and performances tally anywhere from the high single digits to maybe 20 to 24. Hardly enough time to get bored, or the performances to become stale or uninspired. But what happens when we grab that brass ring at last, the long-running contract? It could be a tour, or a Broadway show, even some regional theatres that operate continuous schedules, producing the same show(s) for years on end? We’ve finally been rewarded for all our efforts, and that reward is…to do the same thing 6 nights a week for the next 6 months, even a year, maybe even longer?
A quick glance at my IBDB page might reveal I’m not an expert on this subject (I have a strict rule about the shows I do in New York City—they must be unpopular, even if they are very good).
But seriously folks, I do know a little bit about this. I’ve logged over 200 performances as Ravenal in Show Boat, heaven knows how many performances of the title roles in Jekyll & Hyde, and I just passed 100 as El Gallo in The Fantasticks. And I’m still going. And these minor feats aren’t even a blip on the radar to someone like Broadway star Howard McGillin, who totaled more than 10,000 performances as that creepy guy in the basement in The Phantom of the Opera.
Now, if that last paragraph of not-so humblebrag didn’t completely turn you off, stick around and let’s talk about how to keep your performances honest and true to the work, while the mileage keeps climbing.
As actors, we have certain responsibilities. We must stay true to the author’s and the director’s vision. We must keep our bodies and spirits in as good a condition as possible, so that we can access our own abilities. We are responsible to our fellow actors, to give them what they need to be successful as well. But how do we do this, when we’ve been doing the same thing, night after night, week after week, month after month? Ah, we have now arrived at one of my favorite theatrical bits of wisdom, one I couldn’t believe more strongly in if it were my own.
Okay it is my own. Don’t judge me.
As actors in a play, we are all kids in a sandbox on a playground. We can create whatever we want, build what we need, tear it down and start again. If I don’t like what’s happening in the center of the sandbox, I can go check out a corner for a while, and build something there. Maybe a friend will join me. Maybe everyone will come to this corner and we’ll all play together. Or maybe someone will drift to a different part of the sandbox and the whole process will start again. But there’s something none of us are ever allowed to do.
We can’t go play on the slide. Or the swings, or the merry-go-round. We all play in the same sandbox.
Do you follow me? We’re allowed to use different colors, as long as we’re all painting the same picture together. Some actors are comfortable giving the exact, same performance night after night. And that’s fine. Some actors are more comfortable listening and responding, and letting the performance flow more organically. Neither is wrong, both are viable, we just all should be striving for the same goal. Telling the same story, staying true to the direction and the text.
But what about the boredom? Doesn’t it get incredibly monotonous after a while? If the answer is yes, then maybe it’s time to move on to something else. I would argue that the show is never exactly the same from one night to the next. We are all humans, affected by the events of the day, and those events can (and probably should) have some impact on your performance. Sometimes you make the most amazing discoveries from the oddest of circumstance.
Not long ago in The Fantasticks, my fellow actors and I completely fell apart with laughter during one of the scenes (thankfully the scene is supposed to be funny). I can’t even remember what happened, I just know that we started to laugh and couldn’t get it back under control. The audience had a good time with us, and eventually we all got it together and proceeded with the show. The following scene is a simple, lovely monologue that I get to deliver, and I suppose it’s been fine enough. But this one day, after splitting our sides with laughter and tears rolling down our cheeks, I entered the speech practically exhausted. I was unable to do what I normally did, so I just said the words.
And the speech was never better than that one night, when I just got out of the way, and let the words do the work. The show has a handful of fans who see it quite often, and on this day our most loyal fan was there. We spoke after, and had to acknowledge the um…foolishness that happened on stage. But he offered up, the moments found after that were new, vibrant and alive, and I probably wouldn’t have found them otherwise.
So really, it’s not that hard to maintain a performance for a long period of time. Do your best to stay healthy, get along with all your fellow artists, listen and respond. Even if your performance is “by rote,” as long as you don’t shoehorn your work into the path of someone else’s, it can appear as fresh as opening night.
I am of the school of thought that when it comes to being an actor, auditioning is the real work. While I continue to hone this skill, I now recognize that performing is the reward for those seemingly endless hours of work. Rather than approaching them as job interviews, I think of auditions as a unique, albeit brief opportunity to perform for a crowd of few. After all, what more does entertainment require than the actor and audience? Dare to treat them with a touch of levity and you might just find that auditioning can be rewarding and, dare I say, fun.
What frays the nerves more than being ill-equipped for an audition? You go up on your lyrics, get that deer-in-the-headlights look, and next thing you know, you’re hearing, “Thank you, that’s all we need to see today.” Nothing is more irksome than blowing a genuinely awesome audition. Preparation is the first step in putting your best foot forward.
I look for songs that are type-appropriate and written for relatable characters. My go-to piece is “Free” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. As I identify with the larger-than-life style, the role of Pseudolus is right in my wheelhouse. “Free” is an up-tempo “I am/I want” song that showcases both a wide vocal and comedic range, which is an ideal choice for my type. Alas, being a one-trick pony doesn’t do me any favors, so I’ve got several different songs from various genres to meet my audition needs.
The night before an audition is my time to review. I look over my music, making sure I’ve marked it legibly. I double-check the casting notice to ensure I’ve prepared everything. If there’s the possibility of a dance call, I pack accordingly. And, I always make sure I’ve stapled my headshot and resume. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone pesters me for a stapler. They are $6 on Amazon, and that includes staples and a remover. If you can afford headshots in New York, you can afford to prepare.
The Holding Room
For the majority of us at the audition, it’s business time. We’re there to work. There’s always one lone goober, though, who gloms on to whoever will placate them, prattling on about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, or who they know. I’m not sure if this is just how some people’s nerves manifest themselves, but this has got to be one of the most annoying things imaginable. It’s all I can do review my materials, calm my own nerves, and focus on the task ahead without dodging a Chatty Cathy.
I won’t argue that a good warm-up is essential to belting your face off, yet here we find another major holding room no-no. In NY, most studios will rent smaller spaces on the cheap, a service I’ve taken advantage of when those extra fifteen minutes of scales make all the difference. It’s ideal because you’re able to warm up in the privacy of your own studio, and everyone else gets to maintain their focus. I believe it was Aretha who said, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” And, as I know all too well the trials of the regional/community circuit, you have no better studio in which to belt those last-minute riffs than your car. My go-to method of warming up is a BeltBox, a device that is gaining in popularity amongst performers. As it cuts my volume about thirty decibels, I’m able to warm up full voice in the hall or bathroom without disturbing anyone. Ultimately, it all comes down to taking care of our voices while still respecting the holding room space.
In the Room
Just before I walk in the room, I tell myself, confidence is key. I drop all the mental baggage of the day and am completely open to whatever may occur. After a warm greeting and quick chat with the accompanist, the room is entirely mine for the next minute and a half. The spotlight will never be more yours than it is at this moment.
Prior to walking in the room, the three questions I ask are: Who am I talking to (relationship)? What do I want? What are the stakes? The more detailed your answers are, the more clarity your performance will have. I try to stick to the “16 bars” rule, but if you’ve an up tempo song like “Free,” you’re allowed to cheat it up a bit. I take a deep breath and ground myself, which is crucial because it establishes the firm foundation on which the rest of the audition is built. Most callbacks will require you to prepare sides, which are great because they add some spontaneity to the process. If given ahead of time, I’ll usually be 90% off book after reviewing them into the ground. The pro: you have the luxury of time to experiment and play with different choices. The con: the more set your choices are, the harder it is to be flexible in the room. With a cold read, you’re lucky if you’ve time enough to read the sides twice beforehand. That said, I prefer these! The pro: cold reads allow for a genuine sense of discovery in which the team and I experience the text together. Trust your gut instincts as they are often the most natural choice. The con: heightened nerves from not having worked the text often lead to rushing and fumbling.
From beginning to end and everything in between, an actor’s greatest asset is confidence. Rather than a cocky bravado, it’s a cool conviction that illuminates your work and holds attention. It’s the confidence that comes from choosing the appropriate material, making informed acting choices, and having fun! Be your best you and the rest is in their hands.
Are you a proven writer who is an expert in your chosen theatrical field? Do you have experience creating video blogs? Do you have social media followers? Would you like to share your experiences with others on an international level and expand the knowledge base that StageAgent brings to its 50,000+ users every month? If so, read on!
Write engaging blog posts about various aspects of theatre: acting, design, directing, auditioning, writing, casting, celebrity interviews, running a theatre, and more!
Create original written content between 600 and 1200 words long, exclusively published on StageAgent AND/OR create original video content to be posted on the StageAgent blog and shared via the StageAgent YouTube channel
Submit 1 to 4 posts per month as determined by the editor
Share your StageAgent blog posts via your personal social media channels
Extensive background in any of the following areas
Acting, Voice, Dance
Direction, Choreography, Musical Direction
Teaching any of the above in high schools, colleges, privately
Proven writing/video experience, with samples to be submitted
To Be Considered:
Please submit your resume and two writing/video samples (or links to samples) to firstname.lastname@example.org
In your email introduction, please indicate what major city/country you live in/near (eg, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Sydney). After consideration, if StageAgent would like to move forward, we may request a sample blog post to be written and published that we will analyze for audience response.
This is a freelance position. Bloggers are paid on a per-piece-published basis, after the first sample post.
Whether you’ve been cast in a college production of The Pirates of Penzance, a community theatre production of Steel Magnolias, or the Broadway national tour of Kinky Boots, you—the actor—are only one of many people creating the character you will portray onstage. A key figure in the development of a character is the costume designer, and the relationship between actor and costume designer is the most intimate in our industry. Designers see actors in their most vulnerable state, exposing the insecurities of body and image.
Clothing is the most intimate and relatable design element. Everyone wears clothing, and everyone has opinions about clothing. Often what we wear says more than any words or actions do: Who we are. Where we’re from. What year it is. How much money we have. How much money we want other to think we have. These are just a few stories clothing tells in real life and onstage, making the relationship between the actor and the costumer one of the most important.
Only by working together can these two artists craft a character. Here are five keys to making the most out of your relationship with your next costume designer.
Come with an open mind
It’s true—there is no bad idea. There may be ideas you don’t like, but know that compromise is always possible. And know that your designer could bring inspiration to the table you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Think of it as a relationship that has potential to grow into a successful artistic partnership, if you’re willing to let it.
Be willing to cooperate
If you hate wearing yellow, tactfully explain why it clashes with your skin tone, but know that a designer doesn’t choose the color of a costume on a whim. Costumes are designed as dramaturgically as a play is written. Designers consider historic and cultural context as well as aesthetics. They’ve spent years studying design, making them experts in color theory, fit, and how to design the larger picture of a play, beyond a single dress. You, as the individual actor, can’t always see the whole picture. You may not know what you look like onstage juxtaposed with lighting, scenery, and other actors. Your designer does, trust that. Have faith your designer wants you to look amazing, whether you’re playing a homeless vagrant or a 19th-century socialite.
There’s nothing more embarrassing for both parties than an actor who doesn’t wear underwear to a fitting. So, wear underwear, and come prepared to talk about the foundation garments your character and your body need to best perform. A designer wants you to be comfortable, and foundation garments are the place to start. What brand of underwear fits you best? What type of bra are you most comfortable in? Do you prefer short or tall socks? Do you wear orthotics? These are all questions your designer will ask. Chances are, if you know the answer it will strengthen your relationship, and get you the underwear you need on the first day of tech instead of the last.
Keep the lines of communication open
There is a fine line between compromising for your own comfort, and changing a designer’s intention. If a pair of shoes really doesn’t feel right, say something. No one should have to wear shoes that don’t fit. When something doesn’t feel right, or comfortable, say something sooner rather than later. Never suck it up. If, for some reason the designer won’t compromise, you are at least opening the door to conversation. Nobody wants the actor/designer relationship to sour. Speak your mind, but know the designer deserves to speak theirs as well. It takes two to make a great costume.
Know your character
Sometimes costumes are written into a script. Other times they’re part of the director’s vision just as much as they are the designer’s. But, it’s up to the actor to communicate their version of a character to the designer. For instance, a costumer might begin with pants for an empowered female character, but if the actor is playing the role as someone who wouldn’t wear pants, everyone’s vision adjusts. It’s same situation for an actor’s body type. Before casting, a designer may design a garment that isn’t practical or flattering on the body of the actor who is ultimately cast. If you go into a design discussion or first fitting ready to share your discoveries of your character, the costumer can share theirs and you can build a strong character together.
The beauty of theater is its fluidity. It’s a group effort. The collaboration is always worth it. As long everyone keeps an open mind and their own artistic integrity, there’s no way the product will fail. So, next time you meet your costume designer, remind yourself—you are an artist, your designer is an artist, and together you will make art out of something as seemingly simple as clothing.