Auditions By: Andrew Lococo (’16)

Group Warm-ups happen before the audition starts

Group Warm-ups happen before the audition starts

Auditions. The single worst word of the English language to any actor. The competitive fuss, the little mistake that you hope and pray the director didn’t see, and the hopeful nerve-wracking feeling of standing out. This is the very nature of most auditions, typically. But, why should they be like this? Why is there a need for all of the pressure and stress for the actors?

There simply isn’t.

Forget what you think, forget what you’ve seen or heard, and just do it. Go in with self-confidence and stand out among the rest.

Auditions happen in groups or solo.

Auditions happen in groups or solo.

At Homestead, auditions go kind of like this. After school everyone hoping for a role meets in the Black Box theatre, fills out forms, and listens for instructions from the director, Ms. Figg-Franzoi. Once the auditions begin, the floor is completely open to anyone. Everyone watches as you perform and provides support when you finish. The atmosphere is very laid back and supportive. No one wishes ill on anyone and certainly not the director. And if something occurs that was not supposed to, just keep moving forward. The key to impress is to know that you can. Trust yourself, follow the instructions, and knock ‘em dead. See you there!

By: Andrew Lococo
Drama Club Co-President
Call of 2016

If there is time we play games and improvise.

If there is time we play games and improvise.

Note from the Director: Do you know how amazing you are just by getting up in front of people and auditioning for a play the second day of school?  That’s impressive.  If you can do that you have already shown me you can make a choice and commit.  Theatre is all about choices.  In auditions show everyone that you are that kind of actor.  Make terrible choices, but at least make a choice… don’t “play it safe.”  Anyone can do that.  Come in a make mistakes.  Do you know how many times I’ve failed?  More than you have tried, so don’t worry.  I was right there with you as an performer once upon a time… around a month ago.  So no worries.  Just come to work hard and have fun!

My Artist Statement is Education

cropped-img_9179.jpgFor those of you who don’t know me, my name is Amelia Figg-Franzoi and I’m the theatre teacher at Homestead High School in Mequon WI.  This blog is written in response to my teachings and learning, and sometimes written by the students I’ve conned into posting.  Apart from being a teacher, I am also a student, currently at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee studying for my Masters of Fine Arts in Dance.  I am a daughter, sister, fiancé, friend.  I enjoy photography, skateboarding, knitting, painting, crafting of any kind… the list goes on.

This summer I was tasked to re-write my artist statement.  An artist statement is an artist’s written description of their work: art, dance, theatre, music. The brief verbal representation is for, and in support of, his or her own work to give the viewer understanding. As such it aims to inform, connect with an art context, and present the basis for the work.  At the beginning of the summer I wrote a statement that I thought my professors wanted to read, not one that was necessarily true.  I had cut out the teacher in that statement.

Towards the end of the summer, I realized that I could not cut out the teacher in my art.  Thus, my statement changed.

Artist Statement:

1523966_777069132331247_4296045217966057356_oI live in the world of theatre and at the heart of my work lays the educational value of the piece. Before anything else I am a teacher and it is the second tier in my value system that rests my choreographic and theatrical work. With that in mind, my work generates itself from an educational standpoint. What will benefit and challenge my students? How can I create something that will enable all of us to expand just that much more as humans? I am interested in the space between dance and theater, where interdisciplinary work defies category and takes flight. I explore this theatre and dance space in an educational setting, complete with young performers, discovering not only the piece and their characters, but also who they are.

As a teacher, I draw my inspiration from choreographers and directors who work with their performers to create their pieces. Pina Bausch, Frantic Assembly, DV8 and the House Theatre in Chicago are a few of my muses. These directors and companies traditionally create their pieces in a very collaborative atmosphere, using the talents of the individual performers instead of forcing them into cookie-cutter molds.   The process of creating a piece for me has the main question of, “what are we learning?” As a teacher it is not the end product that determines whether a piece is successful, but whether the process of getting to the end is educational, enjoyable and productive…that is what determines success with my work. My background as a theatre teacher informs me, I create pieces that utilize character work as storytelling, investigating the different ways each performer breathes life into a movement. I also wish to expose my performers to many types of theatre and dance so they grow into well-rounded individuals. For that to develop my pieces vary in style, allowing the performers themselves to experiment within different dance styles. I am always open to something new, using props, aerial work, stage combat; the list is endless. If we dream it up, we will traditionally try it.

10649635_10204565365641663_3435316292268604298_nOver the past couple of years, within this vein of discovery through an educational approach, I have been influenced by Physical Theatre pieces. Developing these pieces, I urge collaboration between the performers, costume and technical students. One primarily modality I use in these collaborative works is to workshop pieces, or to encourage creating a piece “from scratch”. This past year, my performers and I workshopped and performed our own version of Alice in Wonderland and Arabian Nights. With these pieces, we played with dance history elements and aerial work.   But the goal of every piece remains the same. It must inform and entertain the audience, while simultaneously educating and developing confident performers through the process of collaboratively creating a work of art.

Why the change?

Wishing my graduated seniors luck on their Freshmen year at undergrad. They are now seniors.

Wishing my graduated seniors luck on their Freshmen year at undergrad. They are now seniors.

My Artist Statement shifted drastically from what I first wrote. At the beginning of the summer I was still trying to fit into the Dance mold that I felt I needed to be in in order to succeed in the MFA dance program. But as I sat down to rewrite this statement, I couldn’t speak as a dancer and choreographer. That is not who I really am. I am a teacher who happens to love creating dance and theatre pieces. From a young age I knew I wanted to teach, and by my undergraduate years I knew I wanted to be a theatre and dance teacher. This MFA program continues my passion for teaching as I educate myself for the benefit of my students. Educating my performers comes first in choosing any of my pieces. In building a season, I first ask myself what will challenge my students and I second ask what I want to create.

Playing with the Traditional Korean Jeogori and chima.

Playing with the Traditional Korean Jeogori and chima.

My Composition class this summer helped me remember my true passion was for educating students through dance and theatre, not entertaining the masses with dance and theatre. In reading Anne Bogart’s And then, you Act I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How questions Bogart asks. At the beginning of the summer I couldn’t answer them. I was searching for peers and practitioners that everyone admires. It wasn’t until after my Comp class ended that I could answer these questions: “Who are you colleagues? What are you tempting/attempting? When does the art happen? Where does your work belong? Why do you create? How do you proceed?” My colleagues are enthusiastic teenagers and we foster our own imagination while attempting to create something we never before contemplated. Our art happens at any time, in the theatre or in rehearsal. We are constantly creating, because in high school you are always on stage. Our work lives in the community, it belongs in theatre and dance, and it thrives in the hearts of my insatiable teenagers. I create because I have a desire to be there for my students. I remember being in their shoes and knowing that the only time I truly thrived was in the arts. I create because I have an endless imagination and need somewhere to implement it. So I dump it in the minds of my students, in my sets and costumes, and in my work and teaching. How do I proceed? This question stumps me. In creating a work I traditionally proceed by diving into the deep end. If I were to try to answer this question in terms of my artistic career, I have not yet come up with the answer.

Talking to the kids at the Choir retreat 2014

Talking to the kids at the Choir retreat 2014

Anne Bogart writes in And then, you Act, “Find colleagues who are alive, committed, and engaged. To meet them, you need to cultivate an ingredient that serves as a magnet to such people: enthusiasm.” My previous artist statement talked about how I like to create, but it didn’t mention education as the main value. That is what I am enthusiastic about and that is how I have gathered my teenaged colleagues. In both statements I discuss my love of guided-inquiry and collaboration with my performers as well as dance and theatre mixing on all levels. Nothing has changed in that respect. That space between dance and theatre is still my favorite place to play, but the way in which I create is for education.

With my first Artist Statement I had a desire to be someone I’m not, to pretend that I create high art when, in fact, what I do is educate others on their own path to create high art. My passion lies not in showing the world that I created this work of art, but instead showing the world that I helped nurture the growth that made the work possible. Yes, I am the driving force behind every production, but it’s the students that make the magic happen. My art is educating them and shaping them into the artistic individuals they will be for the rest of their lives. I hope I get that across in this next artist statement, because that is what I feel my true art is: Education.

Theatre…

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What Does a Stage Manager Do?

A stage manager is essentially the head traffic controller of a live theater or television production. Once the director has issued his or her final notes to the cast, this person usually assumes command of the physical stage area, dressing rooms and backstage greenroom. All staff, such as lighting, sound, props and scenery technicians, report directly to them, and they in turn remain in constant communication with the director by in-house phone or wireless headset. They have a number of duties to perform throughout the entire production process, some of which they might delegate to other individuals.

Pre-Rehearsal

Managers are responsible for a stage's upkeep.

Managers are responsible for a stage’s upkeep.

Before rehearsals begin, the stage manager usually meets with the director and producer to get a basic concept of what they want the show to look like or achieve. They might provide their own ideas about what might work and explain some options available for props, lighting and other elements, such as costumes or sets. If the manager is working in a new space, they also use this initial time to get familiar with the theater layout and resources.

Another major duty is initially scheduling rehearsal times and making sure those times are respected. As they do this, they think about how long it should take people to learn their parts, as well as how to address giving understudies enough practice. If unforeseen problems come up, such as the theater being temporarily without power on a rehearsal date, it’s usually up to them to figure out if and when to make up the practice and to contact everyone involved. Contemporary professionals in this field often use technology such as email to set up a calendar and communicate quickly with actors, actresses, stage hands, directors and producers.

A stage manager may have suggestions for stage lighting.

A stage manager may have suggestions for stage lighting.

Another task is to get the space the production will use ready for rehearsal and performance. Initially, this might be as simple as making sure the heat and lights are on in the theater. Eventually, however, it involves jobs like striking the set, readying audio and removing equipment that might be in the way, such as a podium. Efficiency is critical here, because many actors, actresses and other staff members are paid hourly — if they have to wait to perform, it costs the producer more money.

Rehearsal

Stage managers get input from directors and producers during rehearsals for a TV or film production.

Stage managers get input from directors and producers during rehearsals for a TV or film production.

Once the rehearsal calendar is active, the stage manager plays a part in security. They usually unlock and lock the building and rehearsal space for everyone else at each practice, unless they doesn’t usually work at the venue — in this case, the house manager or another security worker that normally handles the rehearsal space might control entrance and exit. It is common for them to be the first one to arrive at the theater and the last to leave.

During an actual rehearsal, one of the most important roles a stage manager has is recording all of the blocking, lighting cues, prop usage, costume changes and entrances and exits of all the performers. The tradition of putting all of these elements into a notebook and executing them inspired the theatrical description of the position, “running the book.” Ideally, if they do their job well, someone else could use their notes to oversee the technical aspects of a rehearsal or reproduce the show to a certain degree. Usually, gathering this information means that they have to shadow the director.

Stage managers might help choose blocking schemes for live performances.

Stage managers might help choose blocking schemes for live performances.

Once the stage manager has a good idea of what the producer and director want and how the show is supposed to progress, they delegate tasks to other stage hands, such as costume designers or audio-visual specialists. They make sure they understand what they are supposed to do and checks that they have everything they need to complete their goals. It is common for them to schedule and host staff meetings so that everyone working on the production sees how their work fits into the big picture, and so they can collaborate if needed. It is often necessary to provide some visual or sound cues for staff to keep things moving, with the first few rehearsals usually being the shakiest and most frustrating.

A stage manager is responsible for setting rehearsal times for actors and actresses in a play.

A stage manager is responsible for setting rehearsal times for actors and actresses in a play.

An old theater tradition is for those working on a show to have some coffee before a rehearsal. Not everyone follows this idea, largely because of the expense, but if a producer and director would like to let staff, actors and actresses participate, the stage manager is usually the person who makes the drinks available. Many people appreciate this small gesture, because it can get across a sense of community and relaxation on top of getting everyone through long practices.

Performance Day

On the day of the live performance, a stage manager quickly checks that everything is working the way it should and that everyone, including staff, is available. They work with their crew and other individuals such as ticket salespeople at the door to make sure that initial settings on equipment are ready and that people have access to the venue when promised. It is often their responsibility to issue the familiar call of “Places, everyone!” and to count down the time until the curtain rises.

A stage manager is responsible for supervising the backstage crew of a theater or television production.

A stage manager is responsible for supervising the backstage crew of a theater or television production.

Even though staff typically quickly learn what to do for a production, they often still look to the stage manager for permission to proceed. An audio technician, for example, might know that they are supposed to start the show right at 8:00 p.m. sharp with a specific track of music, but they generally wait for a cue before initiating anything. The flow of the show, therefore, is largely in the stage manager’s hands.

Occasionally, just before or even during a show, technical and human crises come up. A crucial prop might be lost, for example, or someone might have a wardrobe malfunction. One element of this job, therefore, is to take emergency messages, analyze problems quickly and find solutions so that the show can go on as planned. The ability to think under pressure is very important.

As hectic as a performance might be, the person running the stage still is supposed to take notes about how the show went, including about how many people were in the audience. Directors and producers use this information to make improvements. Elements such as performance length can be extremely important in competition sequences, as a cast and crew might be disqualified for going over time or other technical problems. When things go well, these records can inspire congratulatory messages.

Post Production

When a show is over, the stage manager usually handles things such as an after-production party, making sure props, sets and costumes are put back into storage and returning any equipment that was borrowed. In some cases, They might be involved in handling bills related to the show. Cleaning up the space and checking for personal items are additional duties.

Unexpected Heroes: 2015-2016 HHS Theatre Season

2015-2016 Brochure

Season Banner 2015

1st Trimester Drama Club Calendar!

Microsoft Word - 1st Tri Calender.docx

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The Truth about Tech Theatre By: Peter Raimann

The hateful Make-up unit

The hateful Make-up unit

My time in tech theatre was very meaningful and unique. I learned a wide array of topics and techniques throughout each unit.

What I enjoyed the most was crafting the doors for Arabian Nights. Not only did I feel proud after building it with my group, but that it was used on stage for the performance. My contribution to it, I feel, was important because I enjoy crafting things and working with my hands.

I did not like the make up unit. If we are putting together stage sets and lighting designs, I don’t see the need for learning to put makeup-on, if we are not performing. On the other hand, learning about electrical configurations and how lights mix and match, was a good hands-on lesson. There’s also the aspect of knowing which not to put together as well because there’s the possibility it creates a dark scene or doesn’t bode well on the actor’s face. My favorite part was going up in to the catwalk. To be honest, I did not even know there was one. It was interesting to see how all the lighting was suspended via clamps, chains and pulleys. There were lights in the catwalk, on the left and right of the stage that created angular lighting and multiple types of light fixtures directly above the performers.

IMG_1532In addition, we also learned about the many tools used to create sets for plays. For example, the miter saw allows for vertical & horizontal angled cuts as well as cuts angled in both planes. We used it for crafting our frame for the doors as well as cutting a wooden lady’s leg down to fit in the window, which was part of our door project.

Next, I enjoyed costume research after watching “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Royal Albert Hall for the 25th anniversary. I had the character Ubaldo Piangi, a plus sized man of wealth who wears fine suits and jackets that are made of Brazilian black panther fur (yes, I decided he would wear that). He was also the sun god, which required extensive research on different clothing options due to a costume that’s obviously not common.

Phantom of the opera Costume project

After viewing Waiting for Godot, I learned in “full swing” what theatre truly means. It’s displayed almost every aspect of what we learned in tech theatre, all in one 40 minute sequence of lighting, costumes and just some good acting. In the end, tech theatre was a class that I actually enjoyed due to almost all of the units we learned and worked on. Truth be told, it was fun because of the people I worked with and who were in the class. The instructor was fabulous and made theatre, for me, an enjoyable topic of discussion. From the tools we worked with, the drawing and plans we devised for lighting and an all around camaraderie, was what made this class fun, meaningful and a real insight into what a production needs for a successful outcome.

And finally, I would like to thank Ms. Figg-Franzoi for a wonderful experience during this trimester of my junior year.

Written By: Peter Raimann
3rd Trimester 2015
Tech Theatre Class

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