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Monday, July 28, 2014

"Basic On Stage Survival Guide For Amateur Actors" - learning the hard way is easy

Spending countless years on the amateur community theatre circuit, I have seen my share of  first time actors with sheer panic in their eyes. You see, one of the nice things about "Community Theatre" is that it is open to anyone and everyone. Experienced or not. Many times the case it not.

And since I had a plethora of productions under my belt, these acting noobies would seek me out with a multitude of questions ranging from; "What does 'Blocking' mean?", "Does stage right from my right or the audiences right?" "Why is it called upstage and where is upstage?" "How in the world do you memorize lines?" et al. Therefore, I would become the self appointed mentor to all first timers.

A few years ago the idea crossed my mind to document all the basic bits of information a first time actor would need to know to feel comfortable on the stage. A literal "Survival Guide" for the novice actor.
So I began writing what would become "The Basic On Stage Survival Guide For Amateur Actors".
As I began writing down items such as what to expect at an audition and how the rehearsal process can be a very tedious event as well putting a halt to any social life you may have had - it also occurred to me that there are many "rules" of theatre an actor must learn a long the way. Yes rules. I must say that I as an evolving stage actor learned many of the rules the hard way. Example, I recall getting a 15 minute lecture from a director because in a particular scene, a pencil rolled off a desk and remained on the stage until the act break. "If it falls, pick it up!"  There is a strange psychological dynamic with audiences - if something falls on the stage, a button pops off an actors coat and lays there, a feather from a boa floats to the floor, a pencil rolls off a desk, the eyes of the audience will focus on the thing laying on the floor until someone picks it up. Many virgin actors believe it they don't acknowledge or look at something laying on the stage, no one else will see it. Not true! Trust me. Save yourself the 15 minute lecture. If something falls, it is perfectly natural to pick it up. Don't ignore it.

There are also rules about upstaging your fellow actors; literally by standing in front of them or metaphorically by stealing focus by waving to your mom from the stage. There are rules about not turning your back and not standing in a straight line and so on and so forth. As I said, I learned these rules the hard way. When you are a brand new participant in a stage production, there isn't a rule book handed to you nor is there much time to go over everything you should know. Many directors will assume you have some basic knowledge since you are showing at the auditions but that is not always the case.

I wrote this book with all of this mind. I have to provide the most basic nuggets of information any first timer would need to know if they choose to venture into theatre. In some cases, I have worked with so called season professionals that could use some of this information. Anyway, if you are interested trying out for a local production and would like a head start in the theatre essentials - check out my book. And remember if you purchase and drop it on the floor. Pick it up!

Here is the link on Amazon Basic On Stage Survival Guide

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