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      Call Board: a theatrik blog

      Top 10 Gifts for Actors

      garland with holly

      This post originally appeared in November of 2021. I've updated it for 2022. Happy Holidays!

      ’Tis the season for gifting, but the items on this list are great any time of year. I've compiled the top ten best gifts for actors based on what actors have repeatedly said they want and need. In no particular order:


      1. Self-Tape Supplies

      LED Light Kit

      Let’s face it: self-tapes are here to stay. The demand for actors to turn in their own auditions requires that they have the necessary equipment to do so. For starters, every actor needs a great lighting setup and backdrop (a blank wall can suffice for a backdrop as long as it is a flattering color for the actor’s skin tone, such as a light blue or gray). Relying on natural light from a window or using strategically placed lamps simply won’t cut it, especially given the number of self-tapes directors and casting directors have to review.

      2. A Nice, Reusable Water Bottle

      Yeti water bottle
      For the busy actor on the go a reusable water bottle is a necessity. Two great options that are readily available are Hydro Flask and Yeti (I am not affiliated with either and don't make any commission by linking them here). Both options are BPA-free and have anti-leak lids (so actors can throw the bottle in their bag without worrying about it spilling all over their rehearsal notes), and both are made with double wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel - a fancy way of saying they keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Both brands feature multiple sizes and colors, which is always a plus.

      3. Acting Classes or Private Coachings

      It is important that actors continuously work on their craft, but the cost of acting classes can add up quickly. Gifting an actor a class with other students can improve their scene study and audition skills, while private lessons allow them to fine tune a specific skill such as a dialect. Time with an acting coach can prove priceless to an actor.


      4. Tickets to a Live Show or Season Tickets to a Theatre

      red theatre seats

      Now that theatres have opened back up post-quarantine, it's the perfect time to give actors tickets to a show they’ve been wanting to see. Better yet, buy a subscription to an entire season - it's always a good idea to support the arts. ;)


      5. A LARGE Bag with LOTS of Compartments

      Actors are constantly running from Point A to Point B juggling day jobs, school, auditions and rehearsals. They need a bag that’s big enough to hold scripts, audition clothes, work clothes, homework, etc. A bag with lots of compartments is ideal!

      6. Notebooks, Binders, Pens, Pencils, Highlighters

      Pilot Pens G2 0 7

      Actors take lots of notes, keep journals, highlight scripts - in other words, office supplies are always a practical gift. When it comes to pens, I have a favorite: the Pilot G-2 0.7mm. I don’t make any commission by linking them, I just REALLY love these pens. They write incredibly smoothly and the barrel is clear so you know how much ink you have left. As for pencils, I recommend mechanical. The retractable lead allows actors to safely toss them into that giant bag they’re carrying around without worrying about the lead breaking or marking up the bag’s contents.

      7. Public Transit Pass

      Actors who live in large cities will likely find themselves trekking all over town to go between work/school, auditions and rehearsals. A monthly pass for the train or bus, or a Lyft gift card can really come in handy. For actors that drive themselves, a gas gift card makes a practical and much-appreciated present - especially with gas prices these days!

      8. Subscription to Masterclass.com

      Listen to Shonda Rhimes discuss writing for television, or Steve Martin workshop the comedic acts of up-and-coming stand-ups. Masterclass offers a plethora of instructors in a wide range of fields. And with a variety of topics to choose from, actors can easily branch out of the “Arts & Entertainment” category.

      9. MONEY


      Um, obviously.

      10. Theatrik Gift Card

      Theatrik Gift Card

      I had to include this one, of course! With a Theatrik Gift Card, actors can choose from self-tape supplies, stage makeup, plays, and arts-themed candles, stickers and cards. It’s the perfect gift for any thespian.
      Happy Holidays!

      Happy Halloween!

      A Halloween treat for you! For the next 24 hours only, take 20% off your entire order with code SPOOK20. 🎃

      Answers to Your Self-Tape Questions: Part One

      This article was originally posted on July 22, 2021.

      Self-tapes are here to stay, and for those new to recording their own auditions it can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating territory to navigate. I've compiled a list of a few of the questions I've received followed by my answers, and will be answering more in later blog posts. If you have a self-tape question you'd like answered, reach out on social media @shoptheatrik, or email hello@shoptheatrik.com


      Do I have to have a reader or can I pre-record the other characters’ lines and play them from my phone?

      A reader who is there with you in person is always your best option. It gives you someone to play off of in the scene. However, there might be times when having a reader there with you is not possible. You could pre-record the other characters’ lines but then you’re likely stuck constantly hitting pause and play during your take. It’s hard to concentrate on acting when your focus is on cueing up the other lines, unless you time your recording just right that you can play it straight through and still get your lines in. An alternative is to reach out on social media - there are Facebook groups specifically for actors looking for readers. Additionally, there are a number of apps designed for this very purpose. A quick internet search should lead you to a healthy list. You can also check out this Backstage article “13 Apps Every Actor Should Use.”


      For musical auditions, should I sing a cappella or try to find an accompanist?

      Unless your audition instructions specify otherwise, you’ll likely want to have accompaniment. You could certainly hire someone to play the music for you live, or you could record them playing it and make your self-tape without them present. However, finding an accompanist is not always possible. Playing the music from your phone is totally acceptable and pretty standard for a self-tape. If the music isn’t provided by the casting office, you can likely find it on the internet.


      Is light from a window sufficient?

      Natural sunlight is great and usually looks good on camera. However, you shouldn’t rely on a window as your sole lighting component. What if the sun moves or is covered by clouds in the middle of your recording? The lighting will change on camera and might not be consistent throughout your audition. What if the sun is so bright you have to squint to get through your audition? Or what if you have to record at night and don’t have the benefit of natural sunlight? You’ll want to invest in a good lighting kit to ensure you can be clearly seen on camera.


      How do I prevent shadows from showing up on my backdrop?

      Shadows appear when you are standing too close to your backdrop. Moving closer to camera and further away from the backdrop will reduce shadows. You can also adjust your lighting device to a different position to help prevent shadows.


      Are “ring light eyes” really a big deal?

      Yes. If you are using a ring light, depending on how it’s positioned the ring of light can completely cover the irises, so the actor’s eyes appear to be “glowing.” If this happens it becomes difficult for a director to focus on the performance because, as you can imagine, glowing eyes can be rather distracting (not to mention creepy). If you use a ring light, try turning it around and bouncing the light off a white wall or reflector screen, or adjusting the height of the light so it’s not directly centered on your face.


      Do I need a backdrop or can I use a plain wall?

      A wall works just fine if you can paint it a light color that flatters your skin tone. White or beige walls usually don’t look great on camera and are often unflattering for the actor.


      What color backdrop is best to use?

      You should use a color that is flattering for your skin tone. Light blue tends to look good on all skin tones, but light gray and light pink are also great options for some. Avoid yellows and greens - these colors tend to make your skin look yellow or green on camera. Many actors use a dark blue backdrop, as it is widely available on such sites as Amazon, but the color isn’t flattering for everyone. You should also avoid colors that are too bright - you don’t want your backdrop to distract from your performance. Muted, light colors work best to ensure the focus remains on the actor’s performance and not what is happening in the background.


      Is an external microphone necessary or will the mic from my phone suffice?

      While it’s fine to use your phone’s microphone to record your sound, an external mic will enhance the overall quality of your audition. Lavalier microphones are great because they are small and can clip onto an actor’s clothing. The sound is clearer than a phone’s mic and it is easier to cut out the background noise.


      Keep those questions coming! Confused about how to edit your takes and send the file? Unsure what to do when the scene includes a kiss? I'll be answering more of your self-tape questions in future blog posts.

      20% Off for Theatrik's Birthday!

      Balloons and confetti


      It’s been two years since I posted the first blog piece for Theatrik (check out “It’s Theatrik, with a ‘K’”), so essentially that makes today Theatrik’s second birthday! To celebrate, I'm offering 20% off sitewide with code BIRTHDAY20.

      Shortly after writing that first blog piece I officially opened Theatrik’s online shop to customers, selling actor-centric items such as light kits, backdrops, plays and stage makeup, along with gift items including candles, cards and stickers. Over time the inventory has grown and changed, but the overall goal remains the same: provide affordable products and resources to actors so they can “break a leg” without breaking the bank.

      Your feedback is invaluable to a small business owner like myself. Ordered something from Theatrik recently? I’d love for you to leave a review! Looking for a particular play? Let me know and I’ll try to get it in the shop. Need other equipment for your self-tapes, but having trouble finding it? Drop me a line - I’ll see if it’s something I can make available.

      Aside from products, what resources would you like Theatrik to provide? Perhaps you’d like to read more interviews with industry professionals, or you’d like to learn more about the different crew jobs on a set. The more feedback you provide the better I can serve you.

      And don't forget to use the birthday code for your discount! It expires August 25.

      Organizations That Could Use Your Help

      Rather than give you one of our traditional blog pieces like “How to Self-Tape” or an interview with an industry expert, we’re taking this month to highlight some organizations that could use your help. As we all try to navigate through our day-to-day lives, temperatures are rising, basic human rights are being stripped away, a mass murder is likely occurring somewhere in America, nations are at war and vulnerable groups are at risk of an omnipresent virus.

      Below we’ve gathered a list of issues we are currently facing and listed some organizations that could benefit from your donations, along with the mission statements found on their respective websites.  Each link will take you directly to that organization's donation page. Whether you choose to give once or set up a recurring donation, every single penny helps.

      We realize this isn’t the typical content you expect to see here, and we will of course return to our “regularly scheduled programming” soon, but the world feels very heavy right now and finding ways to take action can aid us all in feeling a little less helpless.


      Support Mental Health Initiatives:

      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

      NAMI provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.


      Rethink Mental Health Incorporated, a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to improving the way society views and treats people suffering with mental health issues, especially children and young adults.

      Mental Health America

      Mental Health America (MHA)'s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.


      Help End Gun Violence:

      March For Our Lives

      Born out of a tragic school shooting, March For Our Lives is a courageous youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education, and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence. We aim to create safe and healthy communities and livelihoods where gun violence is obsolete. 

      The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

      Our mission: Reduce gun violence 25% BY 2025. They say it can’t be done. But we can do anything. Even end the epidemic of gun violence in the United States. For we are more powerful than any problem when we work as one. Under Kris Brown's leadership, Brady unites people of all identities, races, and ethnicities from coast to coast, young and old, progressive and conservative, and everything in between, fed up and fired up, to protect our country from what is killing it. It’s in our hands.

      Everytown For Gun Safety

      Your generous donation helps us work to prevent gun violence and save lives by: Taking on armed extremism; Pressuring lawmakers to improve our gun laws; Educating the public about common-sense gun laws and responsible gun ownership; Mobilizing grassroots supporters; Amplifying the voices of survivors of gun violence.


      Help Fight Climate Change:

      Cool Earth

      We champion the relationship between people, rainforest and climate. Cool Earth exists to give cash direct to rainforest communities, to fund projects that create choice, tackle the root causes of deforestation and protect vital carbon sinks.

      Clean Air Task Force

      At CATF, we build momentum for solutions based on scientific evidence, intellectual integrity, and pragmatism. We know that the climate crisis is too complex a challenge, and the stakes are too high for us to limit the tools at our disposal. We challenge conventional wisdoms and explore every opportunity that offers promise, and we’ve done so for more than 25 years.

      Union of Concerned Scientists

      We use rigorous, independent science to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.


      Protect Women’s Rights:


      For more than one hundred years, ACLU lawyers have been at the center of one history-making court case after another, participating in more Supreme Court cases than any other private organization. With attorneys nationwide, we handle thousands of cases each year on behalf of clients whose rights have been violated.

      Planned Parenthood

      At Planned Parenthood our mission is to ensure all people have access to the care and resources they need to make informed decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures. Founded in 1916, Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider, educator, and passionate advocate here in the U.S. as well as a strong partner to health and rights organizations around the world. Each year, Planned Parenthood delivers vital sexual and reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people. Planned Parenthood health centers provide a wide range of services — namely preventive care,  including birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and screenings for cervical and other cancers. Our dedicated doctors, nurses, and support staff take time to not only talk with patients, but to see them for who they are as individuals and support the life they envision for themselves.

      Equality Now

      At Equality Now, we believe in creating a just world for women and girls. Since 1992, our international network of lawyers, activists and supporters have tackled the most difficult issues, challenged ingrained cultural assumptions and called out inequality wherever we see it.


      Protect LGBTQ+ Rights:

      Human Rights Campaign

      Our goal is to ensure that all LGBTQ+ people, and particularly those of us who are trans, people of color and HIV+, are treated as full and equal citizens within our movement, across our country and around the world.

      The Trevor Project

      The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ young people seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. and could benefit from our services. Our trained counselors connect with LGBTQ young people 24/7, 365 days a year.

      Family Equality

      Family Equality’s mission is to advance legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change.


      Support the People in Ukraine:


      UNICEF'S emergency response in Ukraine includes: prepositioning health, hygiene and emergency education supplies as close as possible to communities near the line of contact; trucking safe water to conflict-affected areas; supporting mobile child protection teams providing psychosocial care to children traumatized by chronic insecurity, responding to cases of violence and abuse against children and assisting children separated from family; working with municipalities to ensure there is immediate help for children and families in need.

      International Committee of the Red Cross

      We have some 700 staff working in 10 locations across Ukraine to deliver relief items to the displaced, provide medicines and supplies to health care facilities, restore water supply for millions of people, and other lifesaving activities.


      Your emergency gift supports CARE’s crisis response in Ukraine to reach 4 million with aid and recovery, food, water, hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and cash assistance — and prioritizing the needs of women and girls, families, and the elderly.