Since I was very very young I have always been in shows (usually around 3 a year) and over the course of the last 18 or so years of performing I have found my 5 little tips for how I prepare for each show that I have ever done. Obviously there are more things to do in each show, for example a musical usulauuly involves more dance etc but a straight play usually does not. This is also the advice I give other people when they ask how to prepare for a show and my actors in our current show of ‘Guys and Dolls’.
PSA: This is more for the acting side of a show but later in this series I want to add to this for the roles of Director and Stage Management etc.
- READ THE SCRIPT!!!!! I cannot express enough how important this is, usually casts will have a read through of the script but still if you have a copy of the script, read it more than the cast read through. This is so that you can understand little bits or even character traits that you may have missed at that first read through- you wouldn’t believe the amount of jokes I have seen that have not landed because the actor does not understand the line or a certain gesture being a joke within the show, I especially see this in comedy’s done by younger companies.
- LEARN YOUR LINES ASAP- This is an obvious one but it is heartbreaking seeing how many people need their script a week before show… holding a script means that you cannot throw yourself into the action of a show and after a while your script becomes your safety blanket and you need to get confident with your lines as quick as possible for this not to happen. Ditching the script allows you to get that movement memory into your brain quicker too and therefore you associate a line with a certain movement.
- PROPS- If you are using any props within the show (which is highly likely) practise with said prop as soon as you can (athough this may depend on your production team and whether these props need making or not) so that you can get used to how to prop feels and the fact that you have a responsibility to get the prop before you go on stage, therefore, it is best to practice this otherwise you maybe forget in the show. If you do not yet have your prop, mime holding it, be aware of how you are holding it for examples, a gun or a coffee cup, these objects would not just disappear into thin air, they need to be put down or away- this will help you a lot when the prop is given to you.
- WARM UP- So for any sort of physical activity you should warm up, like you would before a workout, this is essential for your body so that you can prevent injury. Stretching is also important after these warm ups so that the muscles do not cramp up and you do not get DOMS the next day. This is also necessary for your vocal chords so that they are not strained or damaged during singing or speaking… yes, even for speaking only roles you should do a full vocal warm up. Also some companies expect you to warm up before you get to class or rehearsals, not all places run through a warm up with you and it is down to your own responsibility and accountability to look after your body and voice.
- LOOK AFTER YOURSELF- Making sure you are eating, sleeping and exercising enough as well as drinking enough water. Though I should take my own advice on this one, it is good to stay aware and maybe even track what you are doing near show time to make sure your lifestyle is balanced.
I hope these tips are helpful on how to get started with your shows within the new year!