Auditions

Favoritism? Or Just Not Good Enough?

When one looks back at the high school drama experience, one common theme continues to rear its ugly head - favoritism. From TV shows to your local high school, you hear all about how favoritism is rampant… But what if I told you it does and SHOULD take more than talent to get a role at the educational level? Blasphemous, right? What else could possibly go into the process?

 

Show selection:

 For those of you who have had to pick shows for either a high school or other groups (community theatre companies, professional companies, etc.) there has to be a fundamental understanding of the community/talent you have access to. If I live in rural Alabama with 1% of the population being Black/African American, I’m sure as heck not going to be Hairspray or Ragtime (though that does not stop people, smh). If I have a huge amount of men who show up to auditions consistently, I probably wouldn’t do Little Women or 9 to 5. You get the point! You have to have some sort of idea of who you could potentially casting so that your company/school has a successful production. However, I will be clear that this is NOT the same as precasting - just because one is aware of the people who could be auditioning and picks shows that suit those strengths is not the same as handing someone a role regardless of the audition. Picking shows without your school in mind is a mistake.

 

****Your**** audition:

 Now, obviously, auditions can be scary! Nerves can happen, and in some cases, they can be super hard to overcome. Something that I have learned over the time I’ve spent auditioning is that instead of looking outwards and blaming others for me not getting what I would have wanted… Let’s examine how I actually did in the room. How did I sound? Was my song/monologue appropriate? Were my beats/intentions clear? There are SO many things that go into your performance/audition, and while obviously we all try our best in the room, sometimes our talent is not showcased to the best of our abilities. While blaming others is a very comfortable thing to do, without looking at what you could have done better you’re limiting your opportunities to grow.

 

Someone else’s audition:

 Sometimes, regardless of the subjectivity of talent, someone has just a better audition than you. It happens! They came in and had a really good day, they sang a better song, they showed their gifts off better than you did in this instance. There’s nothing to be done in a case like this except do the best you can each time you walk into the room. Hell, there are people who I have seen who are just SUCH great auditioners… And that work then doesn’t translate quite as well when they go to perform. Auditioning well is such a valuable skill, and sometimes someone else just comes in and kills it.

 

 

What the director values/is looking for:

 There are so many interpretations of theatre, which is one of its best qualities. We can agree or disagree, however when it comes to the director's vision at the end of the day that is what will shape the casting process. What if you’re a better singer than actress but the director wants a better actress than singer? Or vice versa? It’s all subjective, but at the end of the day if you don’t fit the director's vision you have to go about changing their mind. That may not happen in 16-32 bars, a cold read, a dance call, and a callback (if you get all of that!). While I did say previously we do need to be introspective about how we do in room, remember that the creative process is still more than just you!

 


High School Drama, the EXTRAcurricular:

 For one, being involved in your school’s shows is not a right but a privilege. Being a student of the school, things like behavior/grades will absolutely be something that is reflected upon. Whether it be in the classroom of the teacher or around the school, being a good citizen absolutely is something that is kept in mind. Being involved with drama (the non-performative sort) or being a disruptive force during the creative process will not bode you well. Regardless of how well you sing or anything of the like, educators don’t reward those (usually) who don’t deserve it. Unreliable students should not, and in many cases do not get what they want in drama departments. While people being a teacher's pet/etc should NOT be the thing that gets people parts, it is absolutely a point in your favor - do your best to be the best you can be… it will more than likely be noticed.

 

How “talented” you are:

 In an attempt to say this as nicely as possible - there are a lot of people in the world who have a slightly (or majorly) inflated sense of self. While someone may think they are the next *insert Broadway star*, the reality of it is that not only is there always someone better… But we may not be good as we think we are (or alternatively, we may not have done as well as we think we did). This is a weird bullet to swallow, but at the end of the day this absolutely can be someone’s Achilles heel.

 All of this to say, there is SO MUCH that goes into the picking of shows/casting/the creative process. While obviously there are PLENTY of schools/instances that really go above and beyond anything I’ve just talked about, we do have to continue to keep in mind the multidimensional aspect of casting and season selection. For those of you who find yourself stuck in either a school or community where you deeply/truly believe that the favoritism is so rampant do not hesitate to find greener pastures or other opportunities. It’s absolutely unfair at times that things like these can ruin an experience, however all I am asking for is for people to be honest with themselves and open about the potential “why” of a situation.

 Next article I’ll hopefully be talking the conversation of creating your own art! As someone who has recently started his own theatre company, I’ve spent the last year developing a nonprofit. If you have any questions you want me address in the next article comment below!

An Open Letter: Highschool Theatre

Jyothi Cross

I thought long and hard about what to write about this week, like I have had no inspiration for anything unique but I was scheduled in so there was no escape. I really wasn't sure what to write about, and then I competed in a band competition at school. A few weeks before that I took part in our school production of Sweeney Todd and I realized something:

School theatre is toxic. 

It's such a nasty environment for young people to grow up in because people are never fully honest.

So here's my open letter, to all the people who tell you to stop being yourself when you do school theatre.

It starts as a little complaint, they tell you to tone it down a bit. Maybe in a jokey way. Then you start seeing scowls behind backs, whispers. They insult you to your face because you're showing them up. A 'flamboyant' personality becomes a threat, and you hear whispers in the Green Room about how someone else deserves that part, or someone else would be better.

I know, I've been one of those whisperers, and I've been one who's been whispered at. But why are we so afraid of simply supporting each other?

And this is why I raise my right finger - because it's taken me a long time to build up my self-confidence to the point where I can make myself look like a fool on stage all for the sake of a show. It has also taken me a long time to realize that the people who were given the parts which I complained about were chosen for a reason, teachers don't simply pick names out of a hat, and it doesn't make sense to question their choices - after they've directed around 20 plays at your school. So, when you call someone 'embarrassing' because they dance about and have fun, remember there is a person on the other end of that line, who was chosen for a specific reason and who has worked their butt off to try and get up there.

I need to remember that too. Because so many have it ingrained in us that other actors are competition, you can't work harmoniously with someone who gets a better part than you, but instead we just need to own it. We need to own our parts, our stories, our fun.

Of course, it feels like such a lie, that the ensemble is just as important as the lead, but ensemble simply means you fit into the puzzle in a different way. You're allowed to go for it, you're allowed to own your role even if you're Villager #24. You just have to raise your right finger, and solemnly swear:

That whatever they say about you, you don’t care.

 

Performer Misconceptions

Show business is tough. No one’s denying that. But people tend to say things about performing and Broadway sometimes which just strike me as a bit off. So, without further ado, I’m going to be addressing the issues I have with four common Broadway misconceptions.


Getting on Broadway is about being the most talented.

It is. But there’s so much more than that. It’s about checking the boxes.

Broadway isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ deal. The casting director will have specific – sometimes very specific – preconceptions about what they want and who they want for it. You could put a fresh new spin on old material, and yes, even if you can belt a high A like nobody’s business, sometimes that’s just not what they’re looking for. Maybe they specifically want someone of a certain race (a practice I despise, but that’s beside the point) for the role, or maybe they want the entire ensemble to have a particular ‘look’. Maybe they’re trying to find a replacement for an outgoing actor and they don’t want to pay to re-fit the costume (I’ve actually spoken to a Broadway actor who said that they got turned down at final callbacks for one show, then got cast for the very next show they auditioned for, both for that very reason). If you don’t fit what they already have, both metaphorically and literally, even if you’re a just as (or more) talented actor, singer, or dancer as those waiting in the audition room behind you, you might not get the part. It’s just showbiz.

Changing the key is taboo.

Yes, I know no one ever wants to tell their director that they want to change the key for fear of derision and scorn. But sometimes, it really is necessary – and not only that, it can help so, so much. I will admit that songs are often written with a specific key in mind – different keys do sometimes convey different emotions simply by way of the ‘sound’ they produce, something I’m sure those with perfect pitch often sense either consciously or unconsciously. But I say changing the key doesn’t ruin a song - it just lets a performer put their all into their performance in a way the original key wouldn’t have allowed them to. In Legally Blonde, the key for the ending of So Much Better has been lowered three full times since the first demo recording – originally written in A major, the song was first shifted down to the original Broadway key of G major then all the way down to F-major for all subsequent professional productions (as licensed by MTI). And yet, the sheer power of the song hasn’t been changed at all – most people, quite frankly, haven’t noticed, and I for one am continually impressed by the blonde belters who pull off the number with pizazz. During his tenure in Newsies, Dan Deluca had the key of Something to Believe In shifted down a step from G major down to F major, a key change allowed him to pull off one of the most romantic performances of the song I’ve ever seen.

The lead performer is always the best in the cast.

This one goes along the same lines as the first one about being the most talented. The lead might not have the best voice or acting chops in the cast, but they might have the best work ethic or, dare I say it, the star power and appeal to draw audiences to a show (yes, I’m talking about stunt casting), all things essential to a show’s financial success as a business. In other words, they just happened to tick the right boxes. But that in no way diminishes the talent of the rest of the cast. The supporting character might not have the high G in their repertoire that the lead does and which might be necessary for a certain role, but given the chance maybe they too could make a full audience cry on cue. The understudy might be an up-and-coming talent who simply doesn’t have yet the resume of the established lead actor (Jeremy Jordan, known for his Bonnie & Clyde and his Newsies exploits but lesser well known as a former understudy for the role of Tony in West Side Story on Broadway, comes to mind). Suffice it to say that someone having top billing in a show’s Playbill doesn’t equate to them being the best in the cast



The best performers are those that never fail.

For this last one, I think the following saying conveys my thoughts better than anything else: “Don’t judge a blooper reel by a highlight reel’s standards.” You might have seen a star deliver moving performance after moving performance to an enthralled crowd of thousands leaping to a standing ovation. But you probably haven’t seen them cry after being turned down for the part again or rip up their sheet music in frustration after the tenth vocal crack of the day on that one high note (Laura Bell Bundy in Legally Blonde comes to mind – not vocal cracks specifically, but you can tell from recordings she struggled at times with the ending note in “So Much Better”, even if the rest of the performance was good enough that you were too distracted to notice when she took a breath in the MTV recording of the show). You probably haven’t seen them shudder with nerves in front of an opening night crowd or fall in rehearsal three times in a row. And I know for a fact that some of the best performers in the world have done these very things. Why? Because the best performers aren’t those who never fail. Those don’t exist. The best performers are those who work through and work with their failures, using them to make themselves better and more consistent as performers and stronger as people.

Getting Ready for College Auditions: Part 1

Henri Tomic


It's almost Halloween and Holiday Season, and what does that mean for high school age theatre kids?

Right: College Auditions, Unifieds, Preparations, getting your book sorted, and oh wait, that's not even everything yet, for many there is this small detail called graduating from High School. It is very easy to get caught up in this jungle of new things, decisions and constantly having to prove yourself. But trust me, in the end, everything will be worth it, and you will look back on everything you learned in this intense time.

But to make it even a tiny bit easier for you, I will answer a few burning frequently asked questions (aka what I wish I had known back then)


When is the right time to (apply/) audition?
In general, there is no right and wrong, and if you're incredibly talented, you might just as well get accepted if you attend the very last audition. However, bear in mind that each school has a certain number of places to fill, and if you therefor the first audition, you might benefit, as they still have all their places available, and they can't really know who else will come up for the other auditions. Meanwhile, you might experience that at certain schools for later auditions either all applicants compete for just one or two remaining places, or even that they are already full before you even enter the audition room. In the end, it's all a matter of luck and who comes in at the right moment (e.g. after a terrible applicant) so go with your gut feeling, but as a general rule of thumb the earlier, the better. (Also you might have less stress with your exams then.)


How to find the right school/college etc. for me?
This is a tough one. First of all, it is important to acknowledge that there is no school that is right for everyone. Some people need a high standard, big groups, and a lot of competitions to thrive; others need a more personal experience with teachers tracking their individual progress. Some want to be close to a theatre to get inspiration in all the hard training; others want to save on accommodation. So really and truly there is no right and wrong, and if you have it in you, you can make it on Broadway or West End, regardless of your school and background. This doesn't mean your choice is irrelevant, though. In fact, it is crucial that you get to the very place you can be. Don't let yourself be fooled, though, by glamorous reputations or big names, acting, singing and dance are about connections, on stage or camera. This means you need to be able to fully connect to your tutors and open up to them, if for some reason a world-renowned college felt wrong for you, and you didn't feel a connection at your audition or research, forget about it, and you might find that your heart leads you to a very different lesser-known school. And fast forward ten years you will be their first big name on their homepage.



What to expect at auditions?
All schools have their very own method of finding their students. Nevertheless, everyone (for MT) will want to hear you sing, they will see you act mostly by using a monologue, and they will see you dance/move.

When it comes to singing they will more often than not ask for two contrasting songs, i.e. a classical one and one that is more contemporary, of which one is more upbeat and uptempo than the other one. Here it is important to make the right choices and choose songs that highlight your talents, but at the same time come very natural to your voice even under pressure and allow you more for storytelling than just forcing these high notes. Keep in mind that you might not have had a sufficient warm up before an audition that might be either very early or very late and you will be very nervous especially in the beginning. The panel is looking for you telling a story and performing in front of an audience rather than you showing off (and potentially failing).

Consult a vocal teacher and experiment with a number of different songs that work for you. Try to surprise the panel and find something that they haven't heard a million times already or reminds them of their last breakup etc.

When it comes to acting, nine times out of ten, they will ask you for at least one monologue. Obviously, I could give you hours worth of advice about posture, diction, intentions, objectives, Stanislavski, pauses and so on, but that's not the point here. Something that helped me a lot to boost my performance and to improve in all of these areas was to drop the idea of it being a monologue. When we think of monologues, we think of somebody delivering over-dramatised lines, standing in front of a panel. But guess what, they weren't written in that way, in fact, did you ever see a (good) show and even noticing a monologue (although they were guaranteed many)? No one writes a monologue (at least no playwright), they are merely part of a play, and we must think of it as a mini-performance (think off-off-off-off-off- Broadway). This idea helps a lot, but there is something about the idea of being on stage, in a play, that automatically makes us slow down, move, and not weirdly wandering of into acting land. In your audition you're performing a one-man play in front of a tiny audience, and you need to behave that way. Think back to some of the great plays (or movies ) you have seen where the character bursts into a very dramatic and emotional or inspiring speech. For once, now, that's you, and you want to make an impression.

Other than the monologues you probably will have to do some kind of improvisation, physical theatre or any other interacting acting exercises. Here they want to see how you can pass energy back and forth. The key here is simply to go with it (as crazy as it might seem) and not be afraid to make yourself a fool. Because if you're doing awesome everyone will admire your performance, if not, you won't see any of them again anyway, so why even care about them. Make sure to be kind and friendly to everyone and collaborate well, communication is key here.

When it comes to dance and movement, there isn't much you can prepare, other than to attend as many jazz dance and ballet classes as you can, preferably by several different teachers, so that you get used to different lesson- and choreography styles.

Make sure, to be honest in the audition room and ask whenever is unclear, if you consider yourself more of a mover, don't try to hide this but work as hard as you can. Dance teachers love it if you're trying to go the extra mile working extra hard to get it right, practice even everyone else is taking a break and ask them for advice if just don't seem to get it right. If they know you are a fighter, they can get you anywhere in three or four years.


How to deal with nervousness/anxiety?
Everyone is nervous at auditions and that is completely fine, the key is to channel your nervousness to give you energy and focus, rather than to hinder your performance.

There are a couple of things to think about that might help with that:

Number one, everyone behind the table is on your side. I know this isn't easy to process, but what I mean by that is, each of them is hoping to get the best students for them, and they are sitting all day there waiting for that to happen. In fact, they might even have higher hopes in you than you in yourself, because if you were this perfectly talented student, they wouldn't need to keep searching and staying there every week/month looking at more and more applicants. This means if you mess up you're beginning or don't hit this important note, don't let it determine the rest of your performance, they want you to be good, and they want to get to know you. Because after all the one thing they are looking for is if they seriously want to continue working with your for all these years, so if you're enthusiastic, open to their feedback and kind they will see that and overlook where you still need training. They are looking for potential and passion and not perfection because it would be incredibly boring to teach a perfect student.

Another image that helped me a lot was to see the whole thing as a performance opportunity:

You want to be on a stage in the middle of hundreds of spotlight, performing in front of thousands of people, many of you will have done some kind of performances before, and I'm almost certain you had more than 2-4 audience members ;) This might just be the most relaxed performance you will ever have, an incredibly tiny audience who are all on your side and haven't paid thousands of dollars to see you perform, they have no expectations and want you to be good, you will never experience such a forgiving audience in a Broadway theatre.

So dive right into you're work from now on, every minute can be used productively, you got this! Fingers crossed and break a leg, and see you on Broadway!!!




Voicing My Concerns

Zachary Harris
In an earlier blog post, there was a conversation being had about the things to do with your voice to ensure your vocal health. These tips, ranging from fluids and rest to types of vocal warm ups to do for preventing injury/fatigue, are all very solid, and things that most people should one hundred percent keep in mind when preparing for shows, presentations, and general life. They are absolutely correct, and most people with vocal training (or have speech pathology expertise, and sciences of the like) will be absolutely able to give you a quick TL;DR on these sort of googleable things.

This then brings up the question of, why do posts about vocal health either not get attention, or the original poster is told to go to a doctor or vocal coach? Why are these really useful hints that google/the last blog post on vocal health not sufficient in helping me diagnose myself?

To answer this, I will ask a series of questions that I’d like you to find an answer for:

1. My voice is hoarse all the time now, what’s wrong with me? I have a show in like, two weeks!

2. My voice gets tired pretty quickly, and I am not seemingly able to sing for as long as I used to

3. It kind of hurts when I swallow, what’s up with that?

4. I have a sour taste in my mouth when I sing, what’s wrong with me?

Now that we have this out of the way, let me try to quickly answer these as best I can; I have absolutely no idea as I have never seen you sing nor have I looked at your folds. There’s no way for me, or really anyone, to actually know how to help you, though we can give you pretty general tips. Not that these tips are bad, but medically/vocally no one can know these things. Why? Because while the answer to the fourth question is probably acid reflux, and some of the other questions can be potentially a water/sleep/diet thing or a vocal technique thing (lol, which is a rabbit hole in itself) there’s no way for me to know. There’s no way for any of us to know.

Photo by b-d-s/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by b-d-s/iStock / Getty Images

With technique it can be so many potential things: how you breathe, where your tension is, how you open your mouth, where your placement is, and so on and so forth. No one on the internet can tell you much more than “brush up on your technique” when addressing this… IF THAT IS EVEN THE PROBLEM. Without actually being able to watch you sing, no one without knowing your medical history or your general diet (or like, what you’re allergic to/how your body reacts to certain things), there’s no way for us to tell you why acid reflux is happening, or if it’s happening at all. Obviously, we all want to help, but that’s the honest truth. But let me just tell you from experience of what happened to me.

When I was in Les Mis the summer of 2014 at a local dinner theatre, I started to have a little tickle in my throat, now I was also a little sick but you gotta do what you gotta do… Right? So, the immediate remedies that were told to me by just about everyone I had ever known was to get some meds to fight the cold and I’ll be fine as long as I warm up correctly/get water/sleep. After a few more weekends of Les Mis it kept getting worse, so I went to a doctor at Johns Hopkins (yay!). I discovered that I had a vocal contact ulcer (which is this, but mine was a tinge different https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/mouth-and-throat-disorders/vocal-cord-contact-ulcers), which obviously was not what anyone had ever actually predicted was wrong. My taking of the meds, my being sick, and not understanding how to alter my instrument to stay healthy while being less than 100% led to this. Fortunately, this did NOT permanently change my voice or damage it, but I did have to go to speech therapy for a number of months to help me understand my voice better and how things can lead to that.

Professional singers and people of the like usually have a firm grasp of how their instrument works and how to change things (such as placement) to shield themselves from potential damage. How did they acquire such a skill? Usually through vocal lessons at the college level or post grad (or earlier, but many people don’t have access to quality voice lessons until later in life), and even then, you’re still constantly learning and adapting. Those teachers give lifelong skills to preserve their students’ instruments. And if anything goes awry, they go to a professional to diagnose them and give them a game plan for recovery.

While seeing a professional might not in the cards for many, and while I completely understand the fact that it was an absolute privilege for me to go to one of the best hospitals in the world to get this looked at, I cannot stress enough that without someone along those lines diagnosing you (or giving you resources along those lines) you can be misdiagnosed or not actually get to the root of your problem. Especially in high school, there is a culture of “sing through it” or “COUGH DROPS SAVE THE DAY”, and in the end scrambling to figure what is wrong with you can lead to bigger consequences.

If you are looking for some great general tips, this is a solid place to start https://allthingsbroadway.com/blog/?offset=1526896800708, but no one here in this massive group can actually help YOU specifically. Your instrument and how you use it/what you give it is all unique to you and in many instances (read: most), is not a “one size fits all” solution. Please take care of yourself, and while I’m not saying to run to a doctor every time you sneeze I just want everyone to keep in mind that we the internet can only sort of (but not really) be of assistance.

 

ATB Drama School Packing List

Drama School Survival Guide - Part 1: Getting ready to rumble - BFA / MT Shopping List

Anyone who ever chose to go for a course in Acting, Drama, Musical Theatre etc. knows this weird feeling you have the weeks before your course start: these buzzing sensations of excitement and happiness on the daily, and yet you’re somewhat scared. I mean, leaving your hometown, family and school is pretty scary enough, but there is also that sudden realization that you might no longer be the strongest dancer, singer, and actor in town.

You might be asked to compete with 2nd and 3rd years and mostly you don’t know anyone. As the weeks pass, suddenly you are facing all sorts of burning questions: “What do I take with me?", "Am I good enough?" and “Do I have what it takes?".

Consider this series to be written by ATB Members for ATB Members, and we will try to address all your questions and worries. We will make sure you take the most of your course whether it is at a small school, or a highly recognized university; whether it’s in the US, the UK or anywhere else in this world.

Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

 

This week we’ll start with the basics, what to do to prepare, what to pack and some general advice to calm your nerves.

We collaborated with nearly a hundred ATB Members, and here it is:

THE ULTIMATE ATB PACKING LIST


For your Course

This is certainly only a guideline to help you with the process, most schools will give you some kind of an (often times) incomplete checklist, but obviously if in doubt, always go with what your school says and ask someone there. The Obvious:

-          Loose and fitted plain black clothing (i.e. jogging pants, leggings, t-shirts etc)

-          Jazz shoes/trainers make sure to try a couple of different ones on, some people prefer harder soled, some softer, some splitter and so on

-          Ballet shoes

-          Ballet tights/Leotards Make sure you have enough, you will be dancing a lot if you do MT and that might get really sweaty, start stocking up!!!

-          Tap shoes

-          running trainers  (indoor and outdoor) most schools won’t have special colour regulations here, but if you want to be on the safe side go for pure black

-          Girls- Character/practice skirt, character shoes (black or tan, with a heel of at least 2-3” (think LaDucas), Sports bra

-          Boys- black character shoes (smart brogues), Jockstrap/dance belt (look for something in either nude or black, but make sure you feel comfortable in it, it doesn’t help anyone if it’s perfectly tight, if you’re not going to wear it)

-          Bone prop (Especially UK Schools will ask you for that, it is a device to train your acting voice ) and Hand Mirror for your voice lessons

MUST-HAVEs

-          a pretty/cool/handy water bottle (keeping yourself hydrated is crucial)

-          A Bag where you can carry a lot with you (dancing stuff, sheet music and scripts do need a lot of space)

-          I found it useful to get packing cubes (google it), one for each style of dancing etc., that allows you to find the stuff you need much quicker and make sure no drinks or ink spills on your expensive shoes.

-          headache pills, vitamins, skin care, heating pads and cool packs for muscle pains, cough drops and any other things you can think of to secure your health

THINGS YOU MIGHT USEFUL

-    good speakers and headphones this might sound very random, but it actually might be one of the things of this list you will need the most. First of all, being able to just relax and calm down with an hour of Netflix, will energize you for all that is ahead of you, but more importantly you will be introduced to a lot of fantastic music, and you want to do the music justice and listen to it in a proper manner. It will also come in handy for warm-ups and practicing your routines with your classmate.

-    microphone/camera to record yourself while singing and acting to improve yourself, and later for potential self-tapes, when your phone isn’t doing a good enough job.

-    yoga strap - stretching is important and won’t kill you :)

-    some acting and theory books to read - we will be giving you a more specific list on that throughout the year

-    a piano or an app that allows you to fine tune your pitch

-    basic costume items sometimes, especially if you work on your own pieces, it might help you to have things like a hat, a scarf etc. at home to get into character.

-    songbooks and sheet music usually you will have some sort of a library in school, but having the score of Hamilton at home won’t only seem professional and prepared but also makes a pretty item on your shelves.

-    pointe shoes many schools don’t require pointe work, but if you’ve been trained on pointe shoes before, why not continue your training outside of class.

-    barre this might sound crazy, but getting yourself a small barre for your room allows you to train on your own, and they start at around $50 (think about getting a used one), it also makes a lovely decoration item for your room and shows everyone what your passion is.

Gender Neutral Makeup Essentials (as recommend by the make-up-artist of WICKED UK

This is like a cheap and easy starter set for people with less make-up experience (aka most guys). It works perfectly both for stage or camera work and I created that list for myself with the help of a make-up artist working at the London Production of Wicked. I keep everything in a small transparent bag (the ones that are actually made for taking on an airplane: they are handy, waterproof, and really cheap). I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with make-up, because more often than not you will have to apply your own make-up, and you better get some practice while you’re still in the learning phase.

-          facial moisturizer - this is crucial, all the sweating and any products will dry your skin. Keep it hydrated and there is less work for your make-up artists. There are tons of products for both guys and girls

-         mattifying powder - get one in your skin town or transparent, you will need it for the stage as well as camera work

-         oil blotting powder - these are awesome, they take away your sweat and work similar to the powder, but you just wipe over your face and you can go back on, you will find them on any movie set especially for male actors

-         concealer/cover stick - we all have our tiny imperfections, and especially if you have no makeup experience, a cover stick is much easier to use than any kind of foundation

-         large brush to apply powders

-         cosmetic sponge - always useful

-         hand cream - not really makeup, still very useful

-         sunscreen transparent spray (for filming/outdoor productions) - this is something I’ve discovered on set, these are sprays which you can just apply, they are completely invisible and no rubbing in required; Great between takes.

-         lip balm

-         toothpicks - there always might be some food stuck in between your teeth, and it can be really distracting to the audience

-         fixing spray - the very first thing to apply to your face, and everything stays where it should

-         fixing powder - if you want to be sure, add some fixing powder at the very end

-         Good deodorant - Did I mention how sweaty your course is gonna be?

More advanced (for girls or experienced guys):

Won’t explain anything here, you girls know your make-up best, but just to put it out there:

-         base / foundation makeup

-         blush

-         eyeliner

-         lipstick

-         eyeshadow

-         mascara

Stationaries - because come on who doesn’t love them?

-          extra pencil - trust me, you’re gonna need them.

-          a highlighter because you’re basically gonna live from scripts and sheet music

-          black binders, auditions might come up sooner than you think. I recommend getting two, one for sheet music, and one for scripts etc.

-          a couple of pretty notebooks (one for each class plus one for random ideas)

-          sticky notes make you look so professional ;)

For Your (New) Home

Dull but useful

-          Storage containers (or IKEA blue bags) Towels, one big and one small

-          Hangers

-          Stool or chair*

-          Laundry bag to hide those dirty socks and leotards

-          Bedside lamp*

-          Bin*

-          Dustpan and brush

-          Alarm for when your phone dies - trust me it happened to most of us

-          Plates, bowls and mugs

-          Spatula

-          Cutlery (and a sharp knife)

-          Can opener – tinned tomatoes are your new BFF

-          Corkscrew/bottle opener yeah, drinking is still important

-          Pans including frying pan

-          Food containers (for the fridge and cupboard)

-          Duvet, a double is a good idea

-          Duvet cover and sheets (x 2 sets)

-          Plants you can’t kill, and that won’t kill you. Guys leave your Audrey at home!!!

-          Rug to cover up that hideous carpet you might get in certain dorms or flats

-          Everyday Clothes - might be obvious but bring enough clothes for potential filming, nights at the theatre etc.

-          Toiletries - whatever you’re used to

* Might be already provided

To make your life more enjoyable

-          Cuddly toy to see you through the sad times, get out you’re Olafs and Pooh Bears

-          photos and posters for once homesickness kicks in

-          Fairy lights and candles (if allowed) for instant atmosphere

-          Humidifier and a steamer - must-haves for every singer

-          Washi tape (doesn’t mark the walls)

-          a mini fridge this is something almost everyone who lived in halls/dorm recommends

-          Lots of cushions, you’ll live in your bed whenever you’re not at the studios

-          Throw/blanket

-          you might want to get a big mirror to allow you to go through your dance routines once again

-          spare cables and chargers - these tend to always break when you really need them; having a couple of them in store will make your life so much easier.

-          talking about charging, listening to music and watching your routines on your phone will really drain its energy, a good power bank, will safe you when you don’t have a plug nearby.

 

This is everything we could think of, but obviously, not everyone is the same, we had really opposing viewpoints from literally “take everything, trust me you will need it” to “Bringing too much unnecessary not only makes it more likely to forget something, but it wastes time and energy to transport. Only bring as much as you need. “

So, the truth lays somewhere in between, go ahead and customize your personal list, it might be you have more or less space, more or less money, and so on…. But this list should serve as a starting point and provide some inspiration. 

Here is a selection of quotes from what I have collected, to make it a bit more personal:

"I had a bag of clothes just for theatre. The bag included my obvious dance clothes and shoes but other things like I had my own corset for period shows, long consecutive skirts, big flowy ones, cute flirts ones and of course all the super fun Halloween tights and shorts for dancing rehearsal. I also was great at making things as I needed them. We did Beauty and the Beast, and the plates were having spacing issues during dance rehearsal, so I used hula hoops and strapped them to their backs to get an idea of how much space they needed once they had their costumes. College was where I learned to live a minimalistic lifestyle. I learned quickly that everyone you meet at college brags about all the roles they had and the shows they were part of, but most of them have never been on crew, or built sets, made costumes or been in the pit. Having been on every aspect (required on my high school and at desales) made surviving easier. I didn't bring anything from home with me, except my music note bedspread my grandmother made. “- Deanna Young

“Bring a mini fridge that you can stock with food/drinks that remind you of home or foods you love! But also put some fruits and veggies in there, love yourself. A pitcher with a water filter will save you soooooooo much money on plastic water bottles. I suggest getting Amazon Prime, especially with the student discount, it makes life easier!” - Ashley Offmann

“Pack a bunch of nice clothes/things you look really good in. You're going to be performing a lot and (at least for me) I'm one level less anxious when I have my outfit together.” - RJ Christian

“For packing you definitely need jazz shoes and ballet shoes and pointe shoes. Being a theatre student, your best friend is to always have tea and water and cough drops! I don't have a roommate, so I brought all my posters and playbills but really, bring pictures of friends and family because theatre can be a hard major and you need to remember all the love and support you have!” - Marcus Thomas

“For starters...make sure you're allowed to have some of these things. A Keurig sounds nice if you're a coffee drinker (caffeine yuck) but it might actually be a banned item. 

"In the movies, dorms are these awesome spaces. Room for everything. In real life it's nothing like that. If you're going to get a humidifier get the smallest one you can get. The rooms are small and outlet space is at a premium. 

"Speaking of - curved surge protectors are the way to go. Something like Flexigon on Amazon. 

"Invest in a good mattress topper. Even getting one of those foam egg crate things. Dorm mattresses are evil and do not do a body good.

"Get sticky poster tac. My first dorm room had block walls. Couldn't use push pins for my posters.

"Unless you're renting from the school don't go halvsies on anything with your roommate. That way you know what belongs to whom if one of you leaves mid-year or decide not to room together the next year. Instead talk beforehand and decide who is bringing what. This goes for traditionally shared stuff like fridges, microwaves, and TVs.

"Get a smartkleen ball. They ionize the water in the washer to clean your clothes. They last over 300 washes. 

"Oh, and don't get one of those expensive shower caddies from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. A plastic basket with a handle from the dollar store suited me just fine.” - Kristin Márie Veronica

“Must haves (health-related): steamer, all manner of sports guards (e.g. knee, elbow, ankle), all manner of heating and ice packs for those sore muscles, all manner of heat ointments, sports tape, compression gear (I slept in them a lot of the time to improve blood circulation and the promote faster healing), all manner of medical ointments (hot and cold), a gym roller and hockey ball for deep tissue massage

"I made a (vile-tasting but incredibly effective) concoction of apple cider vinegar, raw ginger, fresh lemon and chopped garlic which I drank every day to keep the bugs away. Add a teaspoon of it to juice every day!

"Must haves (performing related): video editing software, audio editing software, a selfie-stick with a tripod (for self-tapes), a keyboard app on your phone

"Must haves (sanity related): a really good set of earphones to block out all the noise and drama” - EuJin Hwang

Last Words

 Last but not least, everyone at ATB really believes in you, and we know you’re gonna have an awesome time wherever you are headed, that’s why we collected some words of encouragement and advice for you:

“I think it helped me tremendously having a sense of purpose for my art. I am very fortunate that my program was designed in such a way that we had to think about what we wanted our art to stand for, and to explore any manner of expression.

"I also think it is EXTREMELY important to become aware of how you need to take care of ALL aspects of yourself – physically, spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. I saw so many people who were talented, but who did not have a healthy way of dealing with the pressures of a career in the performing arts. This is why I have embarked on a journey to help actors develop a “Healthy Inner Life Practice”. In this way, you build a career that you own, that grows and that stands a much better chance of being sustainable. And if you have a healthy inner life, there’s a high chance that the work you create as a performer will also be more authentic, more connected and touch more people.

"Talent will only get you that far. The rest of sheer and deliberate hard work. You can’t meet the Universe half-way. You have to meet the Universe 99% of the way. You have to look under every rock, explore every possible nook and cranny to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. And the final 1% that you can’t control, you let it go.

"Find your OWN WAY to stand out. Compete with yourself. I went to school with 2 identical twins and if you want to talk about identical casting, they would be it. But even they found a way to shine as individuals. So, the rest of us who don’t have our identical twins on our program have absolutely no excuse. The thing is – what is probably the most unique thing about you. There is NO ONE else like you on the planet even though the industry is going to want to pigeon-hole you immediately. That’s OK. There is enough time for that once you are working. For now, find the unique story only YOU can tell.

"Finally, your time in drama school is limited. Don’t waste ANY opportunity. Show up. Every single day. Take care of your shit and don’t bring it into the room. Stay present and when magic happens, you’ll be there to see and learn and experience it.”  - EuJin Hwang

“Don’t give up! You’ll be rejected over and over again but it’s so worth it when you get an opportunity to do what you love!” - Gemma Forsyth, Australian/American Actress ( Mako Mermaids, Akoni, Scrap)

 It’s okay to be nervous. My first musical theatre class was terrifying and I thought I was going to pee my pants. I told myself that if this was what I wanted to do I would just have to deal with it. It ended up being my favorite class! We’re only allowed to take it twice but the teacher is letting me take it a third time because it’s just so much fun! It’s ok to be scared, but you shouldn’t be afraid to try things that are new and different! Just be yourself and have fun, make it your own.” - Rachel Blugrind

 “A piece of advice would be to keep on top of the work, if you need help, ASK! There are so many times where I was stuck and didn’t ask for help which lowered my grade. As well as this, positivity is key. A negative attitude is no fun and to be a performer you need to be willing to push through the tough times and try and think of positive things through each situation that you may come across!” - Sammy Terry

 “You have to want whatever your goals are because they are truly spilling out of you. You have to know what you want and go after it fiercely. My dreams weren’t always theatre based, but I had this unignorable need to create art. Find what you love, hold it close, and surround yourself with people who lift you up!” -Chris Medlin - Mean Girls on Broadway

 With that, I would like to thank everyone who helped to make this article happen, it wasn’t possible to feature every single one in this edition, but there is so much more advice that will help many people, so I decided to make a series out of this. If you have any advice to share, or you have questions or worries yourself and recommendations for future topics, feel free to comment below or get in touch with me. If you know of any freshmen, go ahead and share this source with them, because I believe it sometimes really helps to remind yourself that you’re not alone in your situation and to get some advice from the experienced.   

Maintaining Your Vocal health

 

As a singer and performer, your voice is your instrument. If your instrument breaks, you cannot go out and buy a new one so it is incredibly important to protect your voice. In order to give the correct information, I have attended voice health works shops, done my own personal research and also conducted an interview with a professional opera singer (Missie) who had vocal polyps. We will also discuss the most common types of vocal issues, how to prevent this, but also what to do if you happen to have any of these. First of all, how do our voices work?  Above our trachea (the windpipe), we have a fleshy structure known as the vocal folds, sometimes also referred to as vocal cords, except these really aren’t “cords” at all.

Photo by janulla/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by janulla/iStock / Getty Images

The vocal folds vibrate together to create sound. They can vibrate up to 1000 times per second which is what creates the sound we hear when we sing. If we misuse our voice, we can run into to some dehibilitating issues with our voices. There are three common vocal fold injuries that can occur by the simple things we do in our daily life: Polyps, nodes, and hemorrhaging.

The most common causes for these injuries are:

·         Singing/talking way too much

·         Coughing/ sneezing

·         Tension in the voice

·         Stress

·         Yelling

·         Acid reflux

 

HOW TO NOTICE IF YOU MAY HAVE ANY OF THESE ISSUES AND WHEN TO GET CHECKED OUT

·         If you have been hoarse for two weeks or more, it is time to get checked out by a voice specialized laryngologist. If they are certified to work with singers, they will be able to help you regain you voice the CORRECT way. It is important to not leave this untreated. Missie left this untreated from May to October and they did not know if she would ever be able to sing again.

·         If there is a SUDDEN voice change

·         If notes that were once easy for you are either not there, sounding squeaky, or hoarse.

·         If your voice consistantly feel tired.

·         Can’t talk as loud as usual

·         Neck or throat discomfort

The surgeries are often very invasive and can result in the removal of part of your vocal folds. Finding the right physician is the most important part in regaining your voice because not all surgery stories end happily. Missie, after recovery, built her range back up and now floats high B’s and C’s. Broadway’s own Julie Andrews (who had vocal nodes) lost her beautiful voice because of an error made in surgery in 1999. One of the most prestigious vocal heath centers in the country is Emory Vocal Heath Center in Georgia. Most of their staff are also singers and they work primarily with singers.

I know it is such a scary thought to lose your voice, so I am going to give you tips and tricks to protect yourself.

·         Hydration is key! Drink primarily water. You need to drink so much water that your pee is either clear or a pale yellow. (TMI, I know) Because the vocal folds are made up of mucous, this is the only way they stay hydrated.

·         Get enough sleep. If you’re tired, you won’t be able to produce a good sound therefore putting unneeded tension on your throat.

·         If you are in a situation where you are talking constantly to a large room like at work, buy a small microphone set so you can project your voice WITHOUT being fatigued. You can buy these for approximately $30 on Amazon.

·         If you HAVE to shout and project, learn to do them right. Use your diaphragm muscles. Breathe from your stomach instead of from you chest. Imagine your stomach is expanding all the way around even into your lower back. You shouls NEVER  yell from the throat.

·         Avoid unnecessary throat clearing.

·         Do a few vocal warm ups as soon as you wake up. These can be light and simple as you are getting dressed. Just something to wake up your voice.

 

Small Warm Ups To Begin Your Day

·         Lip trills

·         Any five note scale on the vowel “Ya”. Keep your jaw nice and loose and sing lightly. Let your jaw drop. Don’t tighten your jaw because that causes tension.

·         Vocal slides—starting at the bottom of your range and slowly and smoothly going up in pitch. Then, try starting from the top and sliding to the bottom of your range.

 

 

Audition Jitters and How to Beat Them

Shilo Nelson

So you've got an audition coming up. Whether this is your first audition or you've had dozens of them, chances are you still have some pesky butterflies in your stomach. I'm going to start by letting you in on a little secret: no matter what you do, you will probably still be nervous. Let yourself be nervous. You're putting yourself out there, and most likely it's for a role that would mean a lot to you. I'm not going to tell you how to not be nervous, but I'm going to tell you how to remain positive and confident in spite of your nerves.

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

The first step is to be prepared. This one is probably obvious. Practice your song and your monologue as much as you can. The more familiar you are with your material, the more confident you will be. If it's for a pre-existing show, listen to the show. If it's a brand new show, read the character descriptions and come up with some ideas of how you'd like to play it.

Sometimes the only people who see your audition are the people you're auditioning for, but especially for dance auditions you may be auditioning with others. Even if you aren't, you'll probably see people warming up and rehearsing. Remember Cathy in "The Last Five Years"? She notices all of the other girls auditioning and can't help comparing herself to them. Depending on who you are, different things will help different people to not compare themselves with others. You could try not to pay attention to them. Focus on your audition and what you are doing. Everyone has something unique that they can bring to a role, including you. If ignoring them doesn't help, or it can't be avoided, make friends! Sometimes we have a tendency to put other performers on a pedestal, but they're all feeling the same nerves. Talk to the other people in the room. Ask them what part they are auditioning for, what was their favourite role, talk about theatre. You're auditioning for the same show so there's a good chance that you'll have something in common.

Remember that you don't know exactly what the director or casting team is looking for. They may have an idea of what they want the character to be, but sometimes even they don't know what they want until they see it.

When you are rehearsing for the audition, critique yourself (get others to critique as well if you want) but here's the catch: don't just talk about what you want to improve on. It's just as important to recognize what you do well. Often when we're nervous about an audition, we are afraid that we will make a mistake. It can be harder to recognize your strong points, but the more you acknowledge them the more you will start to believe them. Figure out how to highlight these strong points in your audition. Do you have amazing comedic timing? Do you have remarkable range? Maybe you can emote your ballad in ways nobody else can. Find the very best of you, and let the casting team see it.

This may seem silly but smile as much as you can (if you're doing a scene or a song that isn't a happy one, obviously portray that), but while you are waiting and while you are introducing yourself, smile. If you look happy and confident, eventually you'll feel it.

Now, what if you don't get the part you want, or don't get in at all? Let yourself be disappointed, just like you let yourself be nervous for the audition. But don't let sadness take over. Auditions are learning experiences. Once you're through grieving, ask yourself what you have learned and what you can take from this audition for next time. On that note, let there be a next time. What I've found helps me most after not getting a part is finding my next opportunity. Give yourself something else to hope for and don't give up.

This is easier said than done, and it was something that I heard many times before it finally sank in, but it's true that there are several factors that contribute to not getting a part. These factors are often things that you as a performer have no control over. It can be hard not to take it personally but keep reminding yourself that it usually isn't personal. Yes, there are directors who play favourites but that's a different matter. A good director will be encouraging. If they say that they want you to keep trying, believe that they mean it! They may have you in mind as a perfect fit for a future project down the road.

Think of your favourite performers, the ones that inspire you. Remember that they have all been there. They still feel those nerves in the audition room, and they still feel the disappointment of not getting a role. That will always be a part of theatre. It is the hardest part, but it's not the end.

 Break a leg, you can do it!