Actorsingers The Actorsingers
Broadway in New Hampshire since 1955


Upcoming Shows Teen Show
July 20, 21, 22
Annie
November 9, 10, 11
Curtains
May 2013

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Guide to Theatre Terms


Eternity
The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line

Prop
A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by an actor 30 seconds before it is needed on stage

Director
The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic in the local review

Blocking
The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as not to collide with the walls, the furniture, the orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except that the pawns want to argue with you.

Blocking rehearsal
A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule where actors frantically write down movements which will be nowhere in evidence by opening night

Quality Theater
Any show with which you were directly involved

Turkey
Every show with which you were not directly involved

Dress rehearsal
Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt to maneuver among the 49 objects that the set designer added at 7:30 that evening

Tech week
The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; reaches its grand climax on dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown. Also known as hell week.

Set
An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while continuing to occupy the same amount of space

Monologue
That shining moment when all eyes are focused on a single actor who is desperately aware that if he forgets a line, no one can save him

Dark Night
The night before opening when no rehearsal is scheduled so the actors and crew can go home and get some well-deserved rest, and instead spend the night staring sleeplessly at the ceiling because they're sure they needed one more rehearsal

Bit Part
An opportunity for the actor with the smallest role to count everybody else's lines and mention repeatedly that he or she has the smallest part in the show.

Green Room
Room shared by nervous actors waiting to go on stage and the precocious children whose actor parents couldn't get a baby-sitter that night, a situation which can result in justifiable homicide

Dark Spot
An area of the stage which the lighting designer has inexplicably forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the first-time actor. A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

Hands
Appendages at the end of the arms used for manipulating one's environment, except on a stage, where they grow six times their normal size and either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try to hide in your pockets

Stage Manager
Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, baby-sitting the actors and putting the director in a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks while he serves the tea

Lighting Director
Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing a play-by-play of everything that's going wrong

Makeup Kit
(1) among experienced community theater actors, a battered tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint in various stages of desiccation, tubes of lipstick and blush, assorted pencils, bobby pins, braids of crepe hair, liquid latex, old programs, jewelry, break-a-leg greeting cards from past shows, brushes and a handful of half-melted cough drops; (2) for first-time male actors, a helpless look and anything they can borrow

The Forebrain
The part of an actors brain which contains lines, blocking and characterization; activated by hot lights

The Hindbrain
The part of an actors brain that keeps up a running subtext in the background while the forebrain is trying to act; the hindbrain supplies a constant stream of unwanted information, such as who is sitting in the second row tonight, a notation to seriously maim the crew member who thought it would be funny to put real Tabasco sauce in the fake Bloody Marys, or the fact that you need to do laundry on Sunday.

Stage Crew
Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic

Message Play
Any play which its director describes as "worthwhile," "a challenge to actors and audience alike," or "designed to make the audience think." Critics will be impressed both by the daring material and the roomy accommodations, since they're likely to have the house all to themselves.

Bedroom Farce
Any play which requires various states of undress on stage and whose set sports a lot of doors. The lukewarm reviews, all of which feature the phrase "typical community theater fare" in the opening paragraph, are followed paradoxically by a frantic attempt to schedule more performances to accommodate the overflow crowds.

Assistant Director
Individual willing to undertake special projects that nobody else would take on a bet, such as working one-on-one with the brain-dead actor whom the rest of the cast has threatened to take out a contract on.

Set Piece
Any large piece of furniture which actors will resolutely use as a safety shield between themselves and the audience, in an apparent attempt to both anchor themselves to the floor, thereby avoiding floating off into space, and to keep the audience from seeing that they actually have legs

Strike
The time immediately following the last performance while all cast and crew members are required to stay and dismantle, or watch the two people who own Makita screw drivers dismantle, the set.

Actors (as defined by a set designer)
People who stand between the audience and the set designer's art, blocking the view. That's also the origin of the word "blocking," by the way. Gloria Dennison, Stage Coach Players, Dekalb, Illinois

Stage Right, Stage Left
Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to drive directors crazy. ("No, no, your OTHER stage right!") Greg Quillinan, Florham Park Players, Morris Plains, NJ


Just remember: It's only Community Theatre until it offends someone ... then it's ART!
Teri Robert, Actor's Guild of Parkersburg, WV

An Actor's Guide to Performance


Hold for all laughs---real, expected, or imagined! If you don't get one, face front and repeat the line louder. Failing this, laugh at it yourself.

Cultivate an attitude of hostility. Tension gets results---on stage and off.

A good performance, like concrete, should be molded quickly and then forever set.

Your first responsibility as an actor is to find your light.

Do not listen to your fellow actors on stage. It will only throw you.

Do not look at them either---you may not like what you see.

Always be specific---point to what you're talking about.

If a line isn't working for you, change it.

Stage Managers are NOT actors---ignore them. Keep them alert by never arriving on time or signing in.

Never be afraid to ad-lib to get attention, especially if you feel the leads aren't very entertaining.

Mistakes are never your fault.

Always find something to bitch about, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Your fellow actors will respect your professional attention to detail.

Never carry make-up---someone will have what you need.

Never help understudies. (They secretly hate you and want your job)

Do help your fellow actors by giving them notes whenever you feel necessary. And give the notes immediately before they go on---it will be fresher that way.

Speak your lines as if the audience had difficulty understanding the language.

Keep other performers on their toes by ridiculing their performances, and never let them know what you're going to do next.

Play the reality---always be aware of the audience and whether you think they like the show, then gauge your performance accordingly. Why knock yourself out for ungrateful snobs?

The only difference between an amateur and a pro is that the pro does exactly the same thing for money.

Need a character? Get a costume.

Never change anything that is working, no matter how wrong or phony it may seem.

When in doubt about an ad-lib, go "whoo"!

Go up on a line? Clap twice, look at the audience, and giggle.

Even if a piece of "schtick" doesn't work, keep using it. The important thing is for you to have fun and feel good about yourself.

Musical Q & A


What's the definition of a minor second?
Two flutists playing in unison.

How do you get two piccolos to play in perfect unison?
Shoot one.

What's the difference between an oboe and an onion?
Nobody cries when you chop up an oboe.

What's the difference between playing an English horn solo and wetting your pants?
Nothing. Both give you a warm feeling but no one else cares.

What's the difference between a bassoon and a trampoline?
You take off your shoes when you jump on the trampoline.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get away from the bassoon recital.

Why do clarinetists leave their cases on their dashboards?
So they can park in handicapped zones.

What's the definition of a nerd?
Someone who owns his own alto clarinet.

What do you call a bass clarinetist with half a brain?
Gifted.

What's the difference between a lawn mower and a soprano sax?
You can tune a lawn mower, and the owner's neighbors will be upset if you borrow the lawn mower and don't return it.

How many alto sax players does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to handle the bulb and four others to contemplate how David Sanborn would have done it.

If you were lost in the woods, who would you trust for directions: an in-tune tenor sax player, an out-of-tune tenor sax player, or Santa Claus?
The out-of-tune sax player. Meeting the other two indicates that you're hallucinating.

How do you make a chain saw sound like a baritone sax?
Add vibrato.

How many trumpet players does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to handle the bulb and four others to tell him how much better they could have done it.

How do you make a trombone sound like a french horn?
Put your hand in the bell and miss a lot of notes.

What's the definition of a gentleman?
Someone who knows how to play the trombone but chooses not to.

What's the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
Skid marks in front of the snake.

What's the difference between a dead trombonist in the road and a dead country singer in the road?
The country singer may have been on his way to a recording session.

What's the range of a tuba?
About twenty yards if you have a good arm.

What's a tuba for?
1 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Why do drummers have half an ounce more brains than horses?
So they don't disgrace themselves in parades.

What do you call someone who hangs around with musicians?
A drummer.

How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They have machines that do that now.

What does a timpanist say when he gets a gig?
"Would you like fries with that, sir?"

What did the timpanist get on his I.Q. test?
Drool.

What's the definition of a quarter tone?
A harpist tuning unison strings.

Why are a pianists' fingers like lightning?
They rarely strike the same spot twice.

How can you tell if a violin is out of tune?
The bow is moving.

Why is a violinist like a Scud missile?
Both are offensive and inaccurate.

What do violinists use for birth control?
Their personalities.

How do you make a violin sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.

How do you know if a viola section is at your front door?
No one knows when to come in.

What's the difference between a violist and a dog?
The dog knows when to stop scratching.

How do you get a violist to play a downbow staccato?
Put a tenuto mark over a whole note and mark it solo.

Why are violins smaller than violas?
They are actually the same size. Violinists' heads are larger.

What's the difference between a cello and a viola?
The cello burns longer.

What's the difference between a cello and a coffin?
The coffin has the corpse inside.

Why are orchestral intermissions limited to 20 minutes?
So you don't have to retrain the cellists.

Why did the bass player get mad at the timpanist?
The timpanist turned a peg and wouldn't tell him which one.

How can you tell if a bass player is really bad?
Even the section notices.

How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?
None. The piano player can do that with his left hand.

How does a soprano change a light bulb?
She just holds it in the socket and the whole world revolves around her.

What's the difference between a soprano and the PLO?
You can negotiate with the PLO.

What's the difference between a dressmaker and an alto?
The dressmaker tucks up the frills.

If you took all the tenors in the world and laid them end to end...
It would be a good idea.

What do you call ten baritones at the bottom of the ocean?
A start.

What's the difference between a bull and an orchestra?
The bull has the horns in the front and the a** in back.

If you drop a conductor and a watermelon off a tall building, which will hit the ground first?
Who cares?

What's the difference between a conductor and a sack of fertilizer?
The sack.

Why are conductors' hearts coveted for transplants?
They've had so little use.

A musician calls the symphony office to talk to a conductor. He's told that the conductor has died, then calls back 25 times, getting the same message each time. The receptionist asks, "Why do you keep calling?" "I just like to hear you say it."

Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
To get away from the noise.

How do you get a guitar to play softer?
Give him a sheet of music.

What do a vacuum cleaner and an electric guitar have in common?
When you plug them in, they both suck.

How many soundmen does it take to change a light bulb?
One, two, three... one, two, three...

"Hey buddy, how late does the band play?"
"Oh, about half a beat behind the drummer."

Copyright (c) 2012 The Actorsingers, Inc.
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