Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slidell Little Theatre Unveils Audience Guide E-Zine

by Don Redman
Slidell Little Theatre today rolled out the first edition of Prologue, an audience guide published as an e-zine (ē · zēn – electronic magazine). The purpose of the online publication is to serve as an educational tool that will evolve to include a variety of mediums – written, oral, and visual – filled with the backstage stories and related topics that will provide audiences with a broader understanding of the play, its creators, and the local talent bringing it to life onstage.
"Prologue" first edition
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I hope the folks at Goodspeed Musicals feel really flattered because the entire premise of Prologue was totally inspired by their excellent publication, Audience Insights.
Our inaugural publication was published using a free service through FlipSnack.com, which promised to convert our massive pdf file (portable document format) into an easy-to-download page flip format. Otherwise it would have taken for evah to download.
It’s not without its limitations (what free service isn’t?), but for the moment we are happy with the results (here). Two pages didn’t make the cut – FlipSnack allows for only 15 free pdf pages and our document was 17 pages – so we’ll work on a way to get those pages posted elsewhere at a later date. In the meanwhile, we will soon link the original pdf file to our website and explore our options, including upgrading to a fee-based site.
The key to the success of Prologue will depend heavily on the director of each of our Main Stage productions and their cooperation in granting us access to backstage stories, insights, drawings, photos, videos and interviews. Of course, when for the moment you’re essentially an editorial staff of one, getting help in generating the stories will also be essential in producing a quality publication.
I'm not sure we will be able to equal the standard set in the first edition and that's largely because of the talented Joanna Messina and her incredible illustrations in the style of Dr. Seuss. She really deserves a ton of credit for the e-zine's whimsical look and feel. Joanna's complete biography can be found in the current (August/Septemeber) edition of Prologue.
Director Scott Sauber is greatly appreciated for his cooperation and willingness to talk about his vision for Seussical, as well as allowing us a glimpse into the person he is.
There are some detractors, of course, who are worried that divulging too much behind-the-curtain business will "ruin the magic," or "spoil the awe factor," but I am of the belief that simply knowing how something works or looks doesn't have to spell the end of imagination or the theatrical experience. A case-in-point: our production of Stellaluna. Travis and Kelly Brisini wrote an excellent article here about how they made the puppets for Stellauna. There were no secrets left untold. And yet, when the puppets hit the stage, two things magically happened -- the puppeteers disappeared and the puppets came to life. The magic was alive and well onstage!
One of our core missions at Slidell Little Theatre is to educate the community in theatrical productions, and I like to think that the information we expect to provide in future editions of Prologue will further enhance that mission, as well as tell the untold story of the talented people in our community who oftentimes labor in obscurity to bring live theatre to our audiences.
As noted earlier, the plan is ultimately to involve all mediums, including audio bites and video clips in future publications.
But for now, baby steps. Of course, we would love to publish a paper edition, but without a corporate sponsor to help defray the costs, it is simply cost prohibitive at this time.
Even before the last champagne bubble has burst in our celebration of the launch of Prologue, we are already working on the layout for Volume 1, Number 2 – Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.

If you have an interest in contributing to any edition of Prologue (or even this blog), please feel free to email me at VPMarketing@slidelllittletheatre.org. We’d love to have you.

About the Author:
Don Redman is a volunteer member of the Slidell Little Theatre Board of Directors, serving as Vice President of Marketing. He also the self-appointed editor of Prologue, a position he intends to hold until the second someone else steps up to take over the publication. He is a former multiple-award-winning journalist and former managing editor of a now-defunct newspaper on the northshore. He currently is employed on the editorial staff of a regional travel magazine.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Ten Audition Tips From Travis Brisini

Thinking about auditioning for a play at Slidell Little Theatre? During the course of the season, Slidell Little Theatre is asking each of our directors for advice that we hope will provide you with the information you need to better prepare for auditions and give you the encouragement you need to audition again and again.
On Stage Oct. 4 - 20
Just as we launch the new season in just a few days with the opening of Seussical, we immediately set our sights on the next show on the slate – Mitch Albom’s comedy, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, directed by Travis Brisini.

Auditions will be held Sunday, August 18 and Monday, August 19, beginning at 7 p.m. at Slidell Little Theatre, located at 2024 Nellie Drive.

In preparation for auditions, detailed character descriptions for Duck Hunter Shoots Angel can also be found elsewhere on our blog here.

We asked Travis to provide us with his Top Ten Tips to Prepare for Auditions. Here is his advice:

  1. Do Your Research: The first step in a successful audition process is to be as well informed as possible. While it’s important to become familiar with the piece for which you’re auditioning, being truly well informed goes beyond simply knowing what the play is about. Look up the director on the internet—what else have they directed? Do you see a pattern in the type of person they cast for the sorts of roles you’d like? People develop patterns of behavior over time, and directors are no different.

  1. Make Sure You’re Aware of the Audition Process: Will you need a monologue? A solo vocal piece? Will there be an accompanist, or should you bring your own backing track? Is there going to be a cold reading aspect? Are there going to be multiple days of auditions, or is it one day only? Making sure you’re well prepared will lessen your overall anxiety. 

  1. Strategize: Once you’ve learned as much as you can about the piece for which you’ll be auditioning and how the audition is going to be run, it’s time to start strategizing. An important (and overlooked) element of the audition process is choosing a complimentary monologue or vocal sample. This is done by assessing the overall tone of the play for which you’re auditioning (Is it funny? Serious? For adults or kids? Dark and disturbing? Wacky?), then picking something similar but not identical. The thought here is that you can demonstrate the particular set of skills that are relevant, without using the actual songs or text from the piece for which you’re auditioning.

  1. Your Best Is Not Always THE Best: People often get confused and think that their audition song or monologue should be the song that they sound best singing, or the piece that best shows off their acting…regardless of whether or not that piece has any complimentary characteristics to the piece for which they’re auditioning. In other words, your very best vocal sample may be a truly impressive Wagnerian opera…but that’s not going to demonstrate to a director that you’re suitable for “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.” By selecting a piece that demonstrates relevant qualities—while still sounding good or acting well—you make it easier for the director to imagine you in a role.

  1. Timeliness: Arrive early for your audition. This is a courtesy to the director and to your potential future cast-mates. It prevents you from interrupting an audition-in-progress, and helps assure the director that you’re going to be a timely, responsible cast-member. As an added bonus, having a few minutes to look around the space, familiarize yourself with the setup, and calm your nerves will make worlds of difference in your audition performance.

  1. Eagerness: As a director, I have no interest in cajoling people into getting on stage. My ideal cast members are those people who are eager to perform, comfortable with the idea of standing up in front of total strangers and giving it their all (don’t forget: you’ll be doing a lot more of that, if you’re lucky). When the director asks for volunteers, put yourself out there. Remember that you’re making an impression the entire time that you’re at the audition—not just when you’re on stage.

  1. Don’t Overestimate the Talent of Your Fellow Auditioners: It can sometimes be daunting when someone stands up immediately before your chance to audition and makes a big impression: a wonderful dancer, beautiful singer or emotive actor. Instead of getting discouraged or intimidated, it’s important to remember that you’re not quite sure what the director is looking for, just yet. It could be precisely the sort of acting at which you’re best, or the type of character you were born to play. There really is some wisdom in doing your best: the right parts will inevitably come to you.  
  1. Be Gracious: It’s important to thank the people who are giving you the chance to get involved in the theatre. This includes the director, the producer, the accompanist, the music director and anyone else on the production team that’s present at the audition. A simple “Thank You”—particularly to the accompanist—is enough to set you apart from the sea of people who take the labor of the theatre for granted.

  1. Warm It Up: Heading into an audition without properly warming yourself up is a recipe for disaster. Stretch, warm up your voice, move around and work out the nervous energy. There’s no telling what you’ll be asked to do by the production team; better safe than sorry.

  1. Relax: The audition process, like anything else in the theatre, is a skill: it takes time to become competent, and about the only way to get better at it is to do it. If you get the part, that’s a wonderful outcome. If you don’t, take consolation in the fact that every time you audition, you’ll get more comfortable and confident. Acting is something of a long-con: the more you do it, the longer you’re surrounded by it and the more you pretend to be good at it, the better you’ll actually become.    

About Travis Brisini

Travis Brisini is a frequent contributor to the Slidell Little Theatre community, particularly the Theatre for Young Audiences series. A graduate of LSU with a Ph.D. in Performance Studies, Travis has written, directed or performed a wide variety of pieces ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde. When not at the theatre, he can be found reading, writing and gardening.