If you would like to volunteer to be a backstage parent, please contact Mrs. Collins (email@example.com)
After the house opens, performers and crew should be backstage and completely quiet. They should not allow themselves to be seen or heard by the audience. This is called “Breaking curtain,” and it is bad etiquette!
Most theaters have a side entrance in front of the curtain. This is considered part of the stage. Everyone involved in the show (cast, crew, directors, etc.) should avoid coming and going through that entrance once the house is open. If needed, you may go out the back of the shop and come around to the front of the theater.
Children will be supervised at all time, and anyone under the age of 12 must be escorted by an adult when going outside.
Call or call time
The director will announce “call” for each night of rehearsal and for each production of the play. This is the time that everyone should be present. Cast and crew members should not enter the theater (even if the door is open) prior to call time.
Cast and Crew
The cast is made up of all performers in a production. The crew is made up of those who work backstage with props, moving sets, working with lights or sound, and so forth.
Parents are responsible for their performer’s costumes.
If your costume is hung, make sure that the hanger is labeled with your artist’s name.
See “Cast and Crew”
The director is the person in charge of the show. He or she rehearses with the actors and manages the crew in order to create the best production possible. Each director is unique. Some are involved in more areas of the production (like set design, props, costumes, etc.) while others focus on preparing the performers and let others handle the other aspects of the show. Usually, if you have a question or concern about the production it is best to contact a director first.
At the Academy’s performances that involve multiple art departments, Mrs. Collins is the Director. For performances of single departments, the lead teacher is the Director.
Dress rehearsal (also known as “dress”)
Near the end of tech week, all cast members will be required to wear their full costume and makeup. This is a full production, including sound. It can be nerve wracking for younger artists, and often runs a bit longer than regular rehearsal.
This is the imaginary boundary between the audience and the stage. Unless the performance calls for it, artists should not speak directly to the audience or acknowledge its existence. Doing so is called “Breaking the fourth wall.” So, parents, we discourage your from waving to your young performers or trying to get their attention!
See “Makeup and Hair”
“The house” actually can mean two things.
First, it’s the seating area of the theater (the auditorium). The cast will often meet in the house before the show to receive any last minute instructions from the director (called “notes”). Once the “house is open” (usually ½ hour before the show) all actors must remain back stage and be completely silent. Remember not to break curtain.
Secondly, “the house” is the people attending the show, the audience.
Between the acts of the play or performance a short intermission gives the audience a chance to get up, stretch, visit the concession stand, and use the bathrooms.
Please be prepared to quickly return to your seats when the lights in the lobby blink off and on.
It is considered bad manners to exit the auditorium during a performance. If you must leave, please consider waiting near the back of the auditorium for a break in order to minimize distractions.
Actors memorize from the script the words that their character says during the play. This dialogue is called “lines” (as in “lines of text”). If an actor can’t remember the words during the early rehearsal, he or she can call “line” and someone will prompt. If the director tells the actors to be “off book” then they are not allowed to call for lines!
“Running lines” is how you help your actor’s learn their lines. They say their parts of a scene, and you read the other character’s lines.
This is the time when performers and crew set up for a performance. It is usually prior to dress rehearsals. We bring in all the instruments, pieces of the set, and props. It is a busy time, and requires a lot of workers and a lot of patience! The Directors will provide more information closer to the time.
See also: “Tech week”
Makeup and Hair
The director will give instructions on the type of makeup each performer should use. Many performers will be required to wear some (even the boys) since the strong lights of the theater do funny things.
In some instances, the director will also provide information on hairstyles. Once a performer accepts a role in a production, he or she should not get a haircut without first talking to the director.
Usually all makeup and hair styling should be done at home before arriving at the theater.
As the time draws closer to the performance night(s,) most directors will have the cast perform long sections of the performance without interruption. He or she takes notes during this time, then goes over the notes, indicating areas for improvement and giving out compliments. If rehearsals run late, the director may email notes. Please be sure to review them with your performers before the next rehearsal.
Off book or Off page
The director will announce which rehearsals will be “off book” meaning that all performers are expected to have their music, lines, and blocking prepared and/or memorized.
The playbill is the printed program given out to members of the audience. It includes information about the show, greetings from the Directors as well as short biographies of select cast and crew member.
A prop (short for “theatrical property”) are the objects that actors handle or use during the show. They are kept backstage in a special area. If a production has a lot of props, one of the techies may get the title “props master.”
Not all objects are props, though. If something is on stage for display and isn’t used by an actor, it is part of the set.
Run and Run through
A “run through” is a rehearsal where the entire cast performs a complete set, act, or a complete play without stopping.
A booklet containing all the dialogue and stage directions for a play.
The set (short for “setting”) are all the decorations, scenery, and furniture used on stage. If an object is handled by an actor, it’s called a prop.
This is the open area backstage outside the dressing rooms. This is where the sets and props are stored. It is the only place where food or water is permitted (although no food should be eaten while in costume).
This is the opposite of load in. After the last performance of the show, everything has to be removed from the theater. Cast and crew are responsible for disassembling and removing the set, props, and instruments.
This is a mandatory activity for all cast and crew. The performers will change into street clothes and must take all their personal items out to a family vehicle. Everyone will receive a cleaning assignment, which will be posted at the theater.
No one leaves strike until everyone is finished or they are dismissed by a Director.
Performers are a superstitious lot! Here are a few fun ones…
“Break a leg”— This is a popular phrase which means “good luck.” It is typically said to actors and musicians before they go on stage to perform. On the flip side, it is considered bad luck to say “good luck” to someone who is going on stage.
“Don’t wear blue, unless it’s countered with something silver” — This superstition goes back to the days when blue dye was expensive. Failing acting companies would wear blue to try to fool the audience as to their success! Wearing silver proved that you weren’t broke!
“Never give flowers before a performance” —It’s considered bad luck since there’s no guarantee that the actor will have a great performance and “earn” the recognition.
“Never bring a mirror onstage” — This one is both superstitious (bad luck) and practical (mirrors might reflect light on the audience or show hidden parts of the set).
“Every theater has its ghosts” — usually friendly, ghost stories are common at theaters. Most troupes have at least one night off, with the theater empty to confuse the ghosts (and to give the actors a break!) This is all in good fun and we discourage anyone from trying to scare the young performers!
“Macbeth” — The worst luck for an actor comes from saying the word “Macbeth” in a theater! Instead, actors call it “The Scottish Play” or “The Bard’s Play.” Say it by accident? Quickly recite a couple of lines from Shakespeare to ward off the bad luck!
See also “Greeting the audience”
Tech and Techies
“Tech” handles the technical aspects of the production. Crew members who help with tech, such as lights, sound and props, are known as “Techies.” The crew usually wear all black. They assist with props, scene changes, lights, sound and other behind the scenes functions.
During the week of performance, there are many preparations that must be finalized. Tech week activities include load in, rehearsals, dress rehearsal, and running through the final rehearsals before the big night!
It is a week of dress rehearsals at school and at the venue (although costumes may not be necessarily required each time).
This week is incredibly important, and all cast members must be at all rehearsals. Rehearsals tend to last longer.
The director will provide information on what will be required each night (costume, makeup, etc.).
These are the dark areas on the sides of the stage that are hidden by curtains. These are part of backstage (entrances and exits) as well as the stage (can be seen by some seats in the house), so no one should be in these areas until they are ready to make an entrance.