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Advice from the Tech Crew

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One of the lessons I teach, when I teach, is "Advice from the Tech Crew." Actors sometimes think they are the show. They forget about all the other people it takes to make a show happen. I have been talking to tech crews for a number of years and here is some of their advice to actors:
Producers, Publicity Department and Box Office

Advice from the Producer
If you know people who can do back stage jobs, let the producer know. We are always looking for new people to work tech. Sometimes the best tech, have a family member in the show.

Advice from the Publicity Department
Tell everyone you know that you are in a play. All the survey's done at Master Arts Theatre tell us what we already know: 50% of the audience heard about the play from a friend, a family member or a cast member. Word of Mouth is still the best advertising.

If you have a business where you can hang a poster in the window, hang a poster. It is an easy way to support the arts without spending precious advertising dollars.

Ask your boss to advertise in the playbill.

Advice from the Box Office
You don't get special privileges because you act in the play. You must buy tickets like all normal civilians.

Don't corner a director or stage manager during practice and ask for tickets and expect them to jump. Make a call to the box office like everyone else.

Call early. If you call on the day of the show, don't expect you will get someone tickets in the front row because you are in the cast.

If you are a producer, work in publicity or the box office, and have any advice to add, please email your advice to Master Arts and we will include it this article.
Directors, Stage Manager and Musical Director
Advice from the Director
Avoid being seen in costume by the audience before the show. All theater is an illusion. If you break the illusion early, by appearing in costume and out of character before the show, it makes the show less enjoyable for the audience.

Ditch the diva status. You can be replaced. Thinking you are more important then the rest of the cast and crew only causes problems both off stage and on stage.

Be on time for your cue. Pay attention back stage for your cue. 99.9% of missed cues are due to an actor that isn’t paying attention.

Eat some good fruit and vegetables to give you some real energy before a performance. Avoid caffeine highs, the down will probably come during the performance.

The Laugh Formula – It is important that you leave room for an audience to laugh. If you do not, the audience will stop laughing. Not that it isn’t funny, but they don’t want to miss a word, so they will stifle their laugh. There is a laugh formula. When the audience starts to laugh, stop talking. Let the volume hit its peak. When the volume begins to drop, let it drop to 50%, then begin your next line. If you let the laughter die each time, the audience will get bored.

Advice from the Stage Manager

When arriving for performances, make your presence known to the stage manager as soon as possible.

Warm ups are necessary. If the production you are in, does not have group warm ups, find a way to warm up by yourself. If the Stage Manager is leading warm ups, please be kind and do what you are told.

When the Stage Manager comes into the room and shouts out a time, “Ten minutes!” it means that there is ten minutes until curtain. When the Stage Manager shouts out the time, reply with, “thank you ten.” This tells the Stage Manager that you have heard him/her and acknowledge the information.
“Places!” – say, “thank you places,” and get in place as soon as possible. This does not mean that it is time to head for the bathroom; it means the show is about to start.

No talking back stage. If you have to talk, move away from the entrances.

Advice from the Musical Director

Take care of your voice. On cold days, wear a scarf and breath through it to keep the cold air from your throat.

Always warm up your voice. Do not think you can come in and be ready immediately. Warm up slowly, taking time to ready your voice without wearing it out early.

Watch what you eat just before a performance. Milk products are not a good idea before a performance. That includes milk, cheese, and (sorry) chocolate.

Costume, Lights, Sound, Props and Set Crews

Advice from the Costumes

Please use deodorant, antiperspirant and/or dress shields to protect the costumes. Gentlemen, please wear t-shirts under your costumes, this helps protect the costumes from sweat.

Do not eat in your costume

After the Show, put your things away. Hang your costume up when you are done. It will help to protect it. Your job is not done until you’ve put things away.

If it needs to be washed, ask the costumer if you can take it home to clean.

If your costume needs to be ironed, ask the costumer if you can iron it yourself.

Advice from the Make up
Don’t touch your face. Scratching your face just leaves lines in the make up.

When you are sweating, don’t wipe your face. Use a paper towel and dab the sweat off.

Advice from the Light Crew

Find the Light. When on stage, know where the light is shining and be there. Most lights don’t move. They do not follow you, you have to step into the light.

Don’t tell Light Crew if they made a “mistake”. Assume that they know what really happened, and that you don’t.

Light switches are a nightmare on stage. The actors gesture toward the light switch and wonder why the light cue is always late. Light switches should be a group effort between actors and light crew. Actor should make the movement of turning on/off a light totally obvious so the light crew knows when the cue is and the actor needs to keep their hand on the switch until the light crew can change the lights.

Advice from the Sound

Work with the sound crew. Actors should make sure their cues are clear so the sound crew will know when to come in. If the sound cue doesn’t come, don’t pretend like you heard it, Improv your way through the scene.

Phone ringing should be an actor’s control, not a sound crew mistake. When a phone rings, it isn’t a constant ringing; there are pauses between rings. Actors should pick up the phone between rings.

Advice from the Prop and Set Crew

If something is wrong, tell them right away.

If you bump, move, or break something, tell the crew as soon as possible. Some sets are very precise, and a slight movement can cause problems.