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      Call Board: a theatrik blog

      Welcoming 2022

      Black banner with gold stars and 2022 in gold

      I hope you had a safe and enjoyable holiday season! The holidays can certainly bring a lot of stress and heartache, and I know that for many it is not a jolly time, but if you’re reading this it means you’re here and that is something to celebrate.

      Now that 2022 is underway, I’m looking forward to what Theatrik is planning for the year. First, I am pleased to announce that our LED Light Kits are back in stock. I also look forward to launching new products soon (here’s a hint: one of them will make your self-tapes **sound** much clearer). New plays will soon be added to our Plays and Books Collection, and you can expect more blog posts featuring self-tape how-tos, industry interviews and other actor-centric content.

      Finally, I want to acknowledge the passing of some extraordinary artists: Betty White, Sidney Poitier, Bob Saget, André Leon Talley, Ronnie Spector…the collective sadness we have felt over losing these incredible talents only amplifies the importance of the arts in our lives. Artists bring us together to share in the human experience. They bring us laughter, healing, escapism; they make us think, reflect on the past and ignite hope for the future. It’s important to remember their contributions as a reminder to ourselves of why it is we do what we do. In an industry filled with rejection, frustration and self-doubt, it’s easy to lose your confidence and drive. But remember this: someone out there needs you to keep going.

      Keep going.

      Kate McCoy

      Happy Holidays from Theatrik!

      Wreath with the words Thank You inside
      Thank you to all our customers for a wonderful year! Theatrik exists solely for you, and we appreciate your support. As you might know, a portion of every sale is donated to an arts organization, and this year's donation went to Arts Alliance Illinois, a group that generates resources for the cultural sector and creative industries of Illinois. Artists and arts organizations have been hit especially hard during COVID, and groups like Arts Alliance Illinois help distribute funds and resources to those in need.

       

      With the holidays approaching and 2021 coming to a close, please note that we will be CLOSED Dec. 19 - Jan. 2. Any orders placed during this time will ship January 3.

      We wish you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season, and we'll see you in the new year!

      Top 10 Gifts for Actors

      garland with holly

      ’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). 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

      Reusable Water Bottle

      For the busy actor on the go a reusable water bottle is a necessity. When I was researching water bottles for this article I stumbled across Ocean Bottle, and it's safe to say that I am now officially OBSESSED.  I am not affiliated with them and don't make any commission by linking them here, I just REALLY like this bottle. The pros: it is 100% dishwasher-safe (rare for a reusable bottle), made from 100% recycled and recyclable packaging, BPA-free, has an anti-leak dual-opening lid (so actors can throw it in their bag without worrying about it spilling all over their rehearsal notes), and is made from double wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel - a fancy way of saying it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Actors can use it for their coffee in the morning, then rinse it out and use it as a water bottle the rest of the day. LOVE that. AND every Ocean Bottle purchased funds the collection of 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles in weight. The cons: it's a little pricey at $55 for a 500ml bottle (about 17oz.). However, the company offers free spare parts for the life of the product. Currently there is only one size option available, but in 2022 the company will release a larger version at 34oz. Seriously, I never thought I could be so excited about a water bottle.
                                                                                                   

      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

      After the last year and a half we’ve all had, people are eager to see live theatre again. With theatres opening back up, now is the perfect time to give actors season tickets to their favorite theatre, or tickets to a show they’ve been wanting to see.

       

      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.
       

      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

      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!

      Audition & Performance Horror Stories

      All actors have experienced a horrible audition or terrible performance at some point or another - and likely more than once. And while such incidents can be a nightmare at the time, they often make for a great story later. With Halloween approaching, I decided to put a request out on social media for actors to share their memorably horrible experiences, and they certainly delivered. Here are a few, starting with my own.

      1. I was a kid in my first professional acting gig - a play at Stage One in Louisville, KY. I had just finished a scene and exited the stage, feeling SUPER good about the job I had done. I made my way to the dressing room and thought it was weird that no one else was in there. Where did everyone go? I thought. Through the speaker mounted to the wall I heard the next scene taking place - one that I was a huge part of - and I was not on stage. I froze. Had I ruined my entire career at the tender age of twelve? As the scene was already going on without me I felt it best to stay out of the way, and listened woefully as my fellow castmates made up for my mistake.

      2. I was on stage in the middle of a performance when the actress I was on stage with looked directly at me and said aloud, “That’s not your line.” I was stunned. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t believe she said that in the middle of the show, I actually had said the correct line. I just pretended she hadn’t said anything and we awkwardly continued with the scene. - Mike P., Actor

      3. This story from a casting assistant is a real doozy:
      I was running a casting session for The Amityville Horror remake - that one with Ryan Reynolds. Auditions were going pretty well when an actress came in to read for a small, three-line role. As is typical, she set her shoulder bag and belongings on the floor by the wall. About halfway through the audition I noticed that the bag was moving. Then a small dog poked his little head out, wiggled free of the bag, and started to sniff around the corners of the room. We were almost done at that point so I figured the path of least resistance was to just let the tiny dog walk around while we filmed the scene (first mistake). Suddenly in the middle of recording I see this actress’s eyes dart to the floor and she screams “No no no no noooo!!!” I turn off the camera (second mistake), she picks up the dog and as she begins to move it towards her bag, the little fella gets a mean case of diarrhea. Volcanic, jet-propelled diarrhea. It hits the wall, the floor, and suddenly it’s everywhere - an impressive amount for such a small animal. Eventually the stream of diarrhea ends, the actress offers a weak apology and then just leaves. And I had to clean it all up.

      4. I was doing an eight-week run of Assassins. There was a guy in the cast who was into me and after one terrible date with him I declined his advances. We had to do a scene together in the show in which we were in a tableau and supposed to be completely still. For the rest of the run, he would try to tickle me or pinch me during this scene. - Anonymous (*Thankfully this actor made it through okay, but it should be noted that harassment like this is intolerable)

      5. I've never been known as what might colloquially be referred to as 'a singer'. At least not by my songbird musical theatre colleagues. I have other strong suits as a performer – anyone want to see me walk on my hands? And yet even after doing everything in my power to avoid musicals in college I've still landed a few singing roles during my professional career. I remember a particularly harrowing audition about a decade ago – I've found that the worst audition experiences are the ones where you feel things are going well and then... Anyway, owning my deficits in that department I had prepped extensively for the singing portion of this audition at this big regional theater. I worked with a vocal coach ahead of time and everything. I went in confidently, nodded at the accompanist, and sang my little heart out. I remember beaming at the end of the song not just from relief, but because I thought I had miraculously done a passable job. The music director finished the accompaniment, let out an exasperated breath, and took a moment to collect himself. He then calmly folded his hands on his lap and asked if I might be able to just sing "Happy Birthday" a cappella instead. I complied, then showed myself out, walking past the director who was already looking at someone else's headshot, and wishing, for that moment at least, that I could simply avoid future birthdays altogether. They ended up going in another direction. - Eric S., Actor

      6. I was doing a highly publicized run of a show by William Finn (Falsettos, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). He traveled from NYC to see us and there was to be a party for him after the show. The huge song I had in the middle of the show came up and I was center stage. This show was on a thrust stage and we were very close to the audience. When my spot went out and gave way to brighter stage lights, I accidentally looked directly at William Finn and promptly forgot the lyrics. Luckily the music director picked up on this and brought me around to the chorus, but I was so embarrassed. As the composer, there was no way he did not know! - Erin P., Actor

      As harrowing as they might be in the moment, we love hearing your embarrassing, horrific or just downright insane audition and performance tales. Have one you'd like to share? Shoot us an email or reach out to us on social media at @shoptheatrik!

      Answers to Your Self-Tape Questions: Part Two

      Three speech bubbles with question marks

      Self-tapes continue to plague even the most talented and tech-savvy. While you shouldn’t stress too much about your self-tape, you do want it to look and sound fantastic while giving your best performance (no pressure, right?). However, sometimes your character needs to do things in the scene that you’re just not sure about in an audition setting. This post (a continuation from July’s blog post "Answers to Your Self-Tape Questions: Part One"), is meant to alleviate some of those worries when it comes to challenging scenes.

       

      What do I do if there is a kiss in my scene?

      I have recorded countless self-tapes for actors in which the scene involves a kiss. Obviously in a self-tape situation (and any initial audition, generally speaking) you are not expected to pull your reader in for a lip lock (and shouldn’t, fyi). What you can do, however, is play the moment before the kiss happens. There is often a look, a movement, an acknowledgment of some sort. Enjoy this moment. In other words, don’t skip over it just because the physical kiss isn’t actually going to happen. The powers-that-be who watch your tape are going to be looking for those moments. The same idea applies to the moment after the kiss takes place, as well.

       

      The breakdown describes my character as either nude or scantily clad. Am I really supposed to be nude in the self-tape?

      No, though this can vary slightly depending on gender. For example, if you identify as male and your character is shirtless in the scene, it’s a pretty safe option to remove your shirt when appropriate. However, those identifying as female should not appear nude in a self-tape. You never know who will be watching your tape and where it might end up. You can, however, choose a skin-colored tank top and shorts which will accomplish the look of being scantily clad, and also suffice for a scene which calls for nudity. In general, you will not be expected to remove your clothes during a self-tape or initial audition. If you get far enough along in the casting process where it becomes imperative that you show your body, you will be given instructions on what is needed from you. When choosing how much to reveal during a self-tape, follow this rule of thumb: if what you're doing feels uncomfortable, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

       

      My character uses a weapon in the scene. How do I play this?

      Well, for starters, don’t use an actual weapon. You should never bring a weapon into an audition room - trust that any props you need will be provided by the casting director. If recording a self-tape, you don’t want to scare your reader by waving an actual knife around. There are two ways to approach the scene: you can either use an object similar to the weapon (think fake knife or something similar to the shape and size of the weapon) or you can mime the action without using any props. The key is to not let any prop you use overshadow your performance.

       

      Stay tuned for a future post titled "Answers to Your Self-Tape Questions: Part Three" regarding the technical nitty gritty of editing and sending your self-tape files.