Every year Running Brushy Middle School has a spring play. This year it’s a musical! Before I was in last year’s spring play, I always questioned what the process of the shows really are like?
It all starts off by picking the show for that year. Our theater director, Maggie Strain always tries to pick something different from the previous year. She also picks something that works with the student body; they pick a show that can work with the school’s funding and time.
After picking the show comes auditions. Ms. Strain says, “We don’t see it as looking for the ‘right’ person but for someone who can play the role and works well with the cast and crew.” Over time the cast and crew become close. They have to work with each other so in order to do that, you need to pick the people who are the most cooperative and fun to be around.
Many people question what’s the difference between the director and the stage manager; the director’s job is to please the visual satisfaction. The stage manager’s job is to control and manage backstage. ”Directing is all about the visual planning of the play, acting coaching, and technical execution in support of the show’s message or theme. There is a lot of planning and coordination that goes into directing and a lot of times.” Ms. Strain explains, “The stage managers are asked to execute or delegate certain tasks so it does not fall fully on the director. Many times the stage managers will supervise technical projects, manage actors backstage and do the organizing of the production. They are also the messenger between actors and the director during rehearsal. For example; the directors critique and change the actors and crews’ works to make sure it looks and sounds right. Stage managers make sure that the crew is getting their things done, they make sure the actor’s blocking is on point, and then make sure everything is done when it needs to be done. Just like the actors, the directors get a lot of stress too. Well, actors are worried about being off-book, and not forgetting blocking, whereas the directors make sure their actors are good and okay for the role. There have been many cases where the actors drop out or give up because of stress, not being off-book, or outside school activities. So just like the actors, the directors also understand being under stress.
Now that we’ve talked about the director’s process, why don’t we talk about the actors’ process! Most dedicated actors start practice immediately. Some people think that it’s just going over lines but there is so much more to it. Actors need to mentally and physically prepare. Some roles involve moving around or doing a talent. Sometimes actors need to be willing to cut their hair or paint their nails. Learning lines is only the first part of being an actor and you can still get help from mom and dad, or a guardian with that part.
One of the first major things for actors in theater is becoming off-book. Just like the name sounds it’s off-book, you memorize your lines, you don’t need your script. This part can be one of the most stressful parts as an actor, mainly because they think if they don’t become off-book that they will get kicked off from the role, but don’t worry Ms. Strain isn’t that mean! Some advice from theater students was; “DONT STRESS, learn a scene one by one and sooner or later you will have memorized the WHOLE SHOW.” 7th grader Sydney Nelson said.
Many actors on the day of a show have freakouts because a costume piece fell, or they forgot their lines, but as part of the crew, I can guarantee you half the time the crowd doesn’t notice.
Now you’ve read it, the magic backstage. You see the process of the shows you watch has a lot more to the story. I hope this helped you see a little more into what goes on. I hope to see you at the next show! Special thanks to Sydney Nelson and Ms. Strain for helping me with this article.
If you tried out for the one-act play I hope to see your name on the cast list Friday!