Article by Thembi Zikalala
- Arrive early and display “professionalism”
Arrive early to all rehearsals, production meetings, work calls, and performances. Come to each rehearsal prepared and focused on the task at hand. Be polite, say “please” before requests and “thank you” after. All personnel should acknowledge the stage manager’s calls with a polite “thank you.” Make sure you meet all the production deadlines. This displays professionalism and is important, meaningful, and valuable in theater practices.
PRO TIP: WHEN YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE “OFF BOOK” IN A REHEARSAL, KNOW YOUR LINES THOROUGHLY.
- Costume Fitting 101:
An actor will generally have two or more fittings for your costumes. Sometimes if you have multiple changes, or complicated costumes a fitting will run longer. At the fitting there is a certain etiquette to be followed:
It is crucial to arrive at costume fittings early, if not on time. Prior to arrival, actors need to freshen up. Use deodorant and WEAR proper, clean UNDERWEAR. Yes, it is true some people don’t wear underwear.
DO’S: MEN: BRIEFS RATHER THAN BOXERS ARE BETTER.
WOMEN: A REGULAR BRA ARE RECOMMENDED UNLESS THE COSTUME DESIGNER HAS REQUESTED THAT YOU WEAR OR BRING A SPORTS BRA.
DON’TS: A THONG IS JUST THE SAME AS WEARING NOTHING. THINGS TO AVOID WEARING INCLUDE SWEATPANTS – THEY ARE BULKY AND HARD TO MEASURE AROUND.
- The Do’s and Dont’s of the Dressing Rooms :
In a large theater production the actors are usually assigned a dressing room or you are meant to share a dressing room with your co-stars, here’s what to do, or what not to do –
- Keep your things to your allocated counter space at all times (especially fragile possessions)
- Never borrow another actor’s makeup (or anything) without permission.
- Use deodorant, but not perfume – others may be more sensitive to scents.
- Be modest – others may be less comfortable with nudity than you.
- Always hang up your costume – unless it is a crew-assisted quick-change.
- Communicate if there’s any costume damage to the costume designer or wardrobe head of department.
- Do not eat or drink in costume to avoid stains. Water is permitted.
NB: WHEN YOUR CO-ACTORS ARE IN CHARACTER AND COSTUME, AN ACTOR SHOULD NOT ALTER HAIRSTYLES AND/OR FACIAL HAIR IN ANY WAY WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING THE COSTUME DESIGNER OR STAGE MANAGER.
- Stage directions and Blocking …
Stage directions are written from the perspective of the actor facing the audience. Stage directions’ main purpose is to guide actors’ movements on the stage, called blocking.
The front of the stage, called ‘downstage’, is the end closest to the audience. The backend of the stage, called ‘upstage’, is behind the actor’s back, further from the audience. These stage directions are written by the playwright and set aside with brackets, to inform the actors where to sit, stand, move about, enter, and exit.
These are common stage terms that actors need to know.
- Safety Theater Tips !
It’s important that you are aware of the emergency procedures in the theater and other safety measures such as:
- Evacuation procedures and emergency exits of the stage and auditorium.
- There should be a fully-stocked first-aid kit readily available and properly maintained in each theater.
- Stage curtains and drapes should have a fire retardant treatment or be inherently fireproof.
- There should be a supply of operable flashlights that should be maintained in the box office in case of power failure during a performance.
- Mirrors in the dressing rooms should be securely mounted.
- Dressing rooms should be kept clean and sanitary for the prevention of skin infection.
- Dressing rooms should have restroom facilities with an adequate supply of soap and paper towels.
If none of these above are adhered to in the theater then it is NOT a safe space.
- Honor Stage Traditions…
Theater work is mainly ensemble work, to help you keep a common spirit of enthusiasm within the group you may want to start by honoring stage traditions and even superstitions such as :
- Say “break a leg” not “good luck.”
- Never leave the stage completely dark.
- Never whistle in a theater.
- Never say the last lines of a show before opening night
- A bad dress rehearsal means the show will be a hit.
- Never give a performer flowers before a show.