Tag Archives: shakespeare

Fences

Top 10 Roles for Teenagers in Plays

Julius Salles painting of Romeo and Juliet, 1898.
Julius Salles painting of Romeo and Juliet, 1898.

It can be tricky navigating your way through plays with good roles that offer an exciting challenge for the modern teenager. After all, there are thousands of plays out there–where do you start? Are you looking for a powerful monologue, a dramatic scene, or a full play that features a lead teenage role?

We have compiled a list of our top ten key roles that cover male/female parts of different teenage ages, backgrounds, and genres, which will hopefully offer inspiration and motivation in your search for the right teenage role for you.

1. Romeo and Juliet in…..Romeo and Juliet

We’re starting with an oldie but a goodie! And a two-for -one! The young couple are, perhaps, the ultimate star-crossed lovers. Although they are often played by older actors, the couple are actually teenagers and their youth, naivete, and passion is what drives the play along. Both roles require strong acting skills and excellent stage presence so that the audience fully believes their doomed love story. A good command of Shakespearean language is a must, especially when relaying it naturally to modern-day audiences. Actors playing both characters must show a great range as they transform from carefree teenagers to a young married couple, facing the greatest challenges and decisions of their lives.

2. Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank

Another young role of female transformation this time but, in marked contrast to the classic tragedy that is played out in Romeo and Juliet, Anne Frank’s journey takes place in Holland under the control of the Nazis in the early 1940s. When the play opens, Anne is a carefree, energetic 13-year-old girl but, throughout the course of the play as she and her family go into hiding, she grows up into a romantic, optimistic, and deeply intelligent 15-year-old young woman. It is Anne’s voice and her story that lead the play so the actress playing the role must have a strong stage presence and great command of the tale as it unfolds. The part is typically played by a late teen who can portray Anne’s journey through her teenage years.

Uark Theatre Production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Photo credit: Uark Theatre via Creative Commons License 2.0.
Uark Theatre Production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Photo credit: Uark Theatre via Creative Commons License 2.0.

3. Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Christopher identifies himself in the script as being “fifteen years and three months and two days” old, although he is often played by an older actor due to the challenging nature of the role.  However, for the right, talented older teen actor this character offers a great challenge. Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome and this must be conveyed convincingly, with research carried out as to how this would affect Christopher’s take on the world around him. He is also constantly moving so the actor playing this role needs stamina and tons of energy!

4. Judy Graves in Junior Miss

Judy is a 13-year-old New York teenager in the 1930s. Brought up on the classic Hollywood films, she has an overactive imagination and this causes her to get strange ideas in her head!

She is childish at times, especially when she is by herself, but Judy is treading the fine line between childhood and the teenage years. Intensely funny and full of energy, this role offers a great opportunity for a talented younger teenage girl to get her teeth into. She must be entertaining, upbeat, and have great stage presence to lead the play’s narrative.

5. Abigail Williams in The Crucible

The Crucible has several parts for teenage girls of all different character types and sizes so it’s a great one to look at for parts or monologues. Check out some of the highlighted monologues in our show guide for inspiration! Abigail is 17 years old and the leader of the Salem girls. She is confident, sexy, manipulative, and cruel. She accuses local women of witchcraft to divert attention away from herself and she is fully aware of the falsehoods and cruel implications of her actions. Abigail has also had an affair with an older, married man in the town and uses their previous relationship to manipulate and blackmail. This part is a great, lead role for a talented older teen.

6. Albus Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [Parts One and Two]

The most modern play on the list, Albus Potter is a truly magical role for an older teenage boy. He matures from a grumpy, sullen teenager to a teenage wizard who must deal with the potentially fatal implications of his rebellion against his father, Harry. Although, the role is a young teenage boy, it is typically played by a late teen/young adult as the part demands a great deal of maturity, talent, and stamina. The production is still being performed professionally in London’s West End and will open on Broadway in September 2018 so it will not be available for amateur performance for a while yet. However, until then, it offers a great selection of monologues and the character of Albus is often paired up with his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy, so there are also lots of scenes for two older teens.Take a look both of our guides for the two plays to find out more.

potter

7. The Girl in Eclipsed

The Girl in Eclipsed is a very different acting opportunity to the parts on our top ten list so far. The play is set in Liberia, Africa, during the second civil war there and the actress playing the part of The Girl must have a strong, convincing Liberian accent. She also requires a huge amount of maturity and emotion as the role deals with abduction, polygamy, and rape. The Girl is described as being 15 years old so it would suit a talented older teenage girl.

8. CB in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

The character of CB is based on Charlie Brown from the comic strip “Peanuts” and has been updated to deal with high school, friendship, and sexuality in the modern day. Writing to a penpal friend who never writes back, CB has a lot of monologues as he pours out his heart and his concerns on the paper. The death of his much-loved dog prompts him to question the meaning of life and his own identity. He is deeply introspective and often gets things wrong as he searches for answers. First produced in 2004, this dark comedy offers a fascinating and challenging look at being a teenager in the twenty-first century. CB must have a playing age of 16-18 years old.

9. Cory in Fences

In this Tony Award winning play, Cory is an African-American teenager from Pennsylvania who must navigate a tricky relationship with his father, Troy. He starts the play as a frustrated teenager about to graduate from high school and ends it as a soldier returning home after his father’s death. He is a talented football player and desperately wants to make his father proud, but he feels constantly put down and belittled by Troy. The role offers a great chance to demonstrate maturity and and a range of emotions for an older African-American teen.

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of Fences. Photo Credit: Eric Antoniou via Creative Commons License 2.0
The Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Fences. Photo Credit: Eric Antoniou via Creative Commons License 2.0

10. Hank in Marvin’s Room

Finishing with another key role for a teenage boy, Hank is an unstable, troubled teenager who begins the play in a mental institution after burning down the family home. He takes lithium although his moods still swing violently. Hank has a frail, distant relationship with his mother yet, despite running away as he thought he always wanted to, he ultimately returns to his dysfunctional family. Hank is an interesting character role for a teenage boy who is able to portray the fine balance of being mentally unstable without becoming an exaggerated characterization.

So there you have it! Just a dip into some of the exciting and challenging roles for teenagers in plays. Enjoy exploring and find the right role, monologue, or scene for you.

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I Left My Heart in Summer Stock

I learned the greatest life lessons in summer stock theater. For five summers, deep in the redwoods, I bounced between the costume shop, wig shop, and backstage running two to three exhilarating shows a season. It tested my patience, challenged my body, and carved a hole in my heart no theater has been able to fill. I’m a better artist because of it, and a better person too.

Lessons in Patience

Summer stock tends to ask artists for immediate results. Time tables are tight; budgets are even tighter. The notion to rush is instilled on day one. But instead—pause, breathe. Good work takes time; fast work is not good, so find your middle ground. There is only one summer of these shows, these people, and (in my case) these costumes. Don’t rush through the moments just because time isn’t on your side. Be patient, the shows will open, and close long before you are ready. Don’t waste time. Take it all in, and know that whatever lesson the summer will teach you may not be apparent right away.

Photo via Good Free Photos
Photo via Good Free Photos

A Different Type of Design

I love repertory theatre, almost as much as I love outdoor theatre. It challenges the brain and body of actors and designers in a whole new way. Costumes are designed for the elements, long underwear becomes commonplace for cold nights, and outdoor-friendly shoes are your only design option. Clothing must read as regular and regal under the hot summer sun and evening stage lights. Scenic elements are designed for easy change-overs or usability in more than one production. Wigs and facial hair play a crucial role, helping actors transition from one Shakespeare role to another. All elements must stand alone as special, without overshadowing performances. Design is smarter, more versatile, and simple: the audience imagines the rest.

While actors frequently rehearse or learn lines for more than one show at a time, repertory theatre asked them to switch gears multiple times a day. While I’ve carried multiple backstage tracks in my head, for summer stock wardrobe crew, I cannot imagine the challenge of playing Iago in the afternoon and Puck in the evening. Factor in major temperature changes between shows, bugs, and seasonal allergies and outdoor theater becomes an Olympic event for actors.

Listening to Your Body

Whether you’re an intern, actor, or designer, summer stock can wreak havoc on your body. Hours on end sewing, building scenery, running crew, or rehearsing epic swordplay for The Three Musketeers challenges bodies in a way they aren’t used to. Eight shows a week feels like sixteen with morning rehearsals, evening shows, and post-show parties. Opportunities for rest are few and far between, and the fear of missing out can overshadow your body’s needs. Summer won’t last forever, and that’s a hard concept to manage. Just remember, summer stock is one of the many theatrical journeys you’ll enjoy in a career; make it count, but don’t forget to put yourself first.

Shakespearean.actor.in.fencing.stance

Matters of the Heart

My first day of my first season, the artistic director told the story of a couple who met years prior at that very theater. They had returned, still in love, still in theatre. This was the dream. But, what I didn’t know, is that summer stock is summer camp for adults. There are summer loves, but often that’s all they are—a fling under the starlight inspired by the romanticism of  Romeo and Juliet and the constant pressure of summer’s end is right around the corner. Years of this tested my heart. There was so much love to give, and love to receive in so little time. I grew to know I value the people over the art any day—the plays were just the vehicle that brought us together. I learned my love of the industry isn’t the work in costumes or hair, it’s the opportunity to interact with like minds as willing the open their hearts as I was.

No Task Is Too Large, No Task Is Too Small

When it comes to the truncated time and team spirit, summer stock taught me no task is beyond my reach. Whether it was simple swing tacks on costumes, crafting turbans for the first time, or helping the prop shop rig a dagger on a belt, I ended each summer with a handful of new skills, and practiced skills I’d nearly forgotten. There is no such thing as projects above or below a “pay grade,” instilling the humbling notion that I am valuable as an individual, but more importantly, I’m a part of the team.

My summers of outdoor theatre fueled my career faster than any class, seminar, or resume credit. I developed a breadth of skills in design, aesthetics, construction, hair, and makeup that I wouldn’t have experienced in college alone. But, most importantly it filled me heart with love and appreciation for every person and every step of the production process.

 

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MOVEMBER

Movember Madness: The Art of Fake Facial Hair

MOVEMBER

November is the greatest month of the year.  No, it’s not the turkey or the Macy’s parade.  It’s the facial hair.  The month-long campaign, entitled Movember, in which men grow out their facial hair for a glorious thirty days to help fund prostate cancer research and raise awareness brings the most theatrical facial hair to the streets.  

We may not all be able to grow out a handle bar or fu man chu for the month, but we can, in theatrical spirit, take some time to admire, discuss, practice, and display the art of artificial facial hair.

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Fake facial hair is theatrical gold.  You may roll your eyes when I call this an art, but it is — not only during November, but year-round.  Playing Viola in an upcoming production of Twelfth Night and need to transform from a woman to a man?  Are you clean-shaven and just got cast as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and the performance is only a couple months away?  Is your company producing an upcoming production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder?

Fake facial hair can instantaneously allow women can portray men, prepubescent boys can age, and a single actor can play multiple characters with the switch of a mustache.

So, in the Movember spirit, let’s start with a quick tutorial on applying facial hair:

Adhesive:  There are several types of adhesive, but you can break down facial hair adhesives into two categories:  tape and gum.

  • Tupee tape is a very fancy double-sided tape that is perfect for a quick-change mustache, but won’t hold up well to an entire evening of wear under sweat-inducing stage light.
  • Spirit Gum is the more traditional gum-based adhesive that will keep hair on through sweaty scenes.  So will its silicone counterpart, Telesis.

IMG_7719Apply adhesive to the back of your facial hair, in the direction of hair growth, using the small applicator brush in a light layer.  Try not to saturate the lace net—if the hair on the other side get’s glue on it, it will start clumping together.

Let spirit gum sit until it become sticky (usually a minute or so) and apply to clean dry skin.  It’s usually best to alcohol swab your face before applying for maximum hold.

Style your ‘stache with some classic Clubman Wax, or a glue stick for maximum hold.

Remove your facial hair with a cotton ball and rubbing alochol.  Then clean your mustache, from the back side. Using a small brush, brush in the direction of the hair with rubbing alcohol to remove reside.  Rinse in warm water when done.

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For those who can’t get their hands on some hand-tied facial hair, try a stippled makeup approach instead!

Cheers to a plentiful Movember!

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Do Your Homework pic 1

Actors: Do Your Homework!

The other day, I got on the subway and overheard a young musical theatre actor say, “Oh no, I don’t know the work of Annie Baker. Honestly, I don’t really read plays.” It took all of my strength not to walk over to this young man, shake him, and scream, “THIS IS YOUR CRAFT!!! YOU HAVE TO EDUCATE YOURSELF OR YOU WILL BECOME IRRELEVANT.” But it was hot and I was tired — so I rolled my eyes, said a wee prayer for his career, and enjoyed my brief respite in the air conditioning.

However, the incident got me thinking about how, more and more, I am meeting performers and industry professionals who are not doing their homework — and it shows. Yes, school is starting for many theatre students all over the world in the next couple of weeks, but — in fact — the homework never stops. Homework should be an essential part of your life, throughout your career. There are a lot of people who believe that if they have gone to school and done well, then they are educated, have a leg up in the industry, and that their education can stop there.  Continue reading

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Macbeth

Top 5 Most Popular Plays

Updated Aug 10, 2015

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, StageAgent members ‘fan’ their favorite shows over 1000 times per week! It provides a great insight into what theatre fans really like.

The slide show in this post displays the top five most plays , as voted by StageAgent members.  Not surprisingly, Shakespeare plays dominant the top five.  Only one play in the top five is NOT written by Shakespeare. Can you guess what it is?

Want your say? Make sure to visit the show database and fan your favorite shows! Without further adieu, here is the list of most popular plays! Continue reading

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