Krista Apple (standing) playing Gertrude, with Zainab Jah as Hamlet in the Wilma Theatre’s 2015 production of Hamlet.
Krista Apple (standing) playing Gertrude, with Zainab Jah as Hamlet in the Wilma Theatre’s 2015 production of Hamlet.

Everything Old Is New Again

Great advice to help actors make their own mark on a well-known character

Revivals are more plentiful than ever these days—this season alone, reboots of Falsettos, Miss Saigon and M. Butterfly are about to fill houses all over Broadway. For an actor, putting an original spin on a well-known character in a play revival can be an incredibly daunting challenge. If the character is very well-known—say, Romeo, in your theater company’s umpteenth retelling of the Bard’s tale—you may feel that successfully revamping something so familiar, and in many cases traditionally played in a certain vein, is next to impossible. If the play being revived isn’t exactly a household name, yet still quite revered—say you’ve been cast in a regional production of Next to Normal—your issue may be how to interpret a character uniquely while still retaining some influence from the work of a few actors who have played the role before you (whom you’ve watched with great interest on YouTube, no doubt). Whatever the situation, here are some tools actors can use to feel confident, capable and clear about how to approach the work within the context of the show’s new version!  Add a comment

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A sample page from a stage manager’s portfolio. You can buy a 10-16 page portfolio at most office supply stores.
A sample page from a stage manager’s portfolio. You can buy a 10-16 page portfolio at most office supply stores.

Hunting for a Summer SM Job

David J. McGraw

The best routes to take and the best practices to follow in order to land that summer stage management gig

With the chill of winter in the air, it is hard not to dream about summer: sandy beaches, swimming pools, parades and fireworks… and sitting in darkened theatres for 10 out of 12 tech days! Nothing says summer to a stage manager like summer stock, where we trade our regular theatres for theatres in places where normal people vacation. But these jobs don’t come easily. If you are looking for stage management work this summer, here are some suggestions to improve your view while you are on your 10-minute break. Add a comment

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Allen & Heath Qu-32
Allen & Heath Qu-32

Small-Format Digital Consoles

Jacob Coakley

These days, vast power comes in small packages. (Just ask anyone who had to return a Galaxy Note 7…) Much safer, and much better sounding are these small-format digital consoles. Digital is changing a lot of things, but for us small-format means under $10,000 street pricing, and moveable by one person. Don’t worry, though, manufacturers still pack a lot into that footprint—even when a console’s footprint is changing, drastically. Digital engines have given manufacturers tremendous leeway to change the interface. While most offer a traditional fader layout, some are playing with how monitors, tablets and even phones let you manage the mix. But whatever you’re looking at, the sound remains as high-quality as ever on these boards.

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A moment from Repercussions and Reverberations at Purdue, with lights responding to the dancers’ movement.
A moment from Repercussions and Reverberations at Purdue, with lights responding to the dancers’ movement.

Weaving Conductive Threads

Rich Dionne

Designers, dancers and digital tech came together for an experiment in control and choreography

An idea was born as my colleagues Kat Hickey and Renee Murray (both modern dance choreographers) and I were sharing beers at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial: What if we found a way to combine my interest in sensor and control technologies with their work in dance? Almost 18 months later we had the opportunity to present to audiences the first step in what promises to be a long collaboration amongst the three of us (and other artists, including Courtney Frederick and Rose Kaczmarowski in costumes, Mark Jamerson in music composition, and Allison Newhard and Megan Turnquist in lighting) with a piece entitled, Repercussions and Reverberations. Add a comment

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Savion Glover had specific ideas about how the tap needed to sound for Shuffle Along—which called for specific miking techniques.
Savion Glover had specific ideas about how the tap needed to sound for Shuffle Along—which called for specific miking techniques.

Audio Alternatives

Bryan Reesman

Sometimes the basics get you by for miking a musical—other times you have to get creative

Despite the lamentations of old-school fans, the default state of musical theatre is now amplified. Mics on performers and in the pit, and speakers everywhere have become standard. The challenge for sound designers is to find the best way to make things sound natural without the audience noticing. While there are plenty of standard miking techniques that people have used over the years, Stage Directions spoke with veteran designers and engineers about taking a different approach when called for. Add a comment

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Essentials of Period Style: A Sourcebook for Stage and Production Designers by Hal Tiné
Essentials of Period Style: A Sourcebook for Stage and Production Designers by Hal Tiné

Essentials of Period Style: A Sourcebook for Stage and Production Designers by Hal Tiné

Kathy Eddy

By Natalie Robin

For design students and even some early-career designers, the research phase for period productions can be daunting. Even for designers who have been working in the field for decades, sometimes it’s hard to find a good place to start. Hal Tiné, experienced Broadway and regional designer and educator, has created an excellent resource for beginning the exploration of historical periods as they relate to all aspects of design.

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A moment from the musical Hello Again in Marymount Manhattan’s Theresa Lang Theatre.
A moment from the musical Hello Again in Marymount Manhattan’s Theresa Lang Theatre.

A Moment and a Space

Jacob Coakley

How Marymount Manhattan College goes beyond theatre to create better theatre artists

Marymount Manhattan College’s theatre training program offers students options—lots of options. Whether that’s a BFA in Acting, a BA in Theatre Arts, or even a competitive Musical Theatre program, it’s all offered in a structured, hands-on program offering majors experiences in all aspects of production. It’s also located in the center of Manhattan, surrounded by the vibrant history and landscape of one of the world’s leading theatre cities. Kevin Connell, a Professor at Marymount Manhattan and Assistant Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts, spoke to us about what makes Marymount Manhattan special, and how they teach students to find their own artistry.  Add a comment

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Stage Directions Editor Jacob Coakley
Stage Directions Editor Jacob Coakley

Paying My Dues

Jacob Coakley

I haven’t taken a union work call in a long time—but not so long I have forgotten what dues are for

It’s January, which means it’s time for me to pay my annual union dues. I’m a proud member of IATSE Local 720 in Las Vegas, NV. I have been since 2003. I haven’t taken a union work call in approximately eight years now—but I still pay my annual dues. Why? 

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