Putting on a Show: Performers

Introduction

This page introduces you to performance roles in H.A.T.S. Please either read it in sequence, or skip to the role that most interests you: Director, Actors, MD, Orchestra, Choreography, Chorus, Dancers or Prompt.

Directors

What is involved: the Director controls the whole production. He (or of course 'she') often selects the play/panto, considering: audience appeal, whether it can be cast, that the set can be built and whether the Society wants it. He then plans the production - 'blocking' moves, designing the set, the lighting and the costumes and choosing the music (if relevant), all in conjunction with the specialists.

The Director will then cast the Show. He will then runs the rehearsals, ensuring that the actors produce a realistic interpretation of the author's work. Often he will also have to arrange for the set to be decorated and find suitable furniture, as well as organise publicity and programmes. Oh, and he must control the finances! On some shows there may be a split - a 'Director' does the artistic bit and a 'Producer' the organisational and financial bit. See more

What experience is needed: lots!!! A Director needs a blend of acting experience, artistic vision, organisational skill as well as the personality to manage the needs and expectation of a group of -sometimes precocious -actors and the production team. Convinced this is you? Then apply now - amateur Directors are much in demand!

How much time will it take: lots, indeed it sometimes feel like a full-time job!!! It takes six-eight months from selecting a script and four months from first reading, to performance. Finding people who can offer that commitment is hard work!

Actors

What is involved: Actorsthose who are on-stage in a speaking role (often called a 'principal' in a Panto). Once you have 'won' the part in the casting session you are expected to learn your part from the script and develop a character; the difficulty of this varies with the type of production. You then attend some or all rehearsals, developing your competence in the words, moves and character as you go. In a panto, principals inevitably have a singing role as well, probably as a solo or duet.

What capabilities are needed: above all a passion to perform! You must be able to move on stage (preferably without bumping into the furniture), have or develop a strong carrying voice - often a major problem with those new to acting. You must also build and portray a credible 'character'. Beyond that, requirements vary with the part. Don't worry if you are not sure you possess all these attributes, come along and give it a try - with assistance and guidance you will quickly progress.

If you have a singing role in panto it helps to be able to hold a tune, but people vary greatly in this respect. Practising at rehearsals will improve your voice to a degree.

How much time will it take: a lot! You will attend most rehearsals and (hopefully!) all performances. Extra time is spent learning words and, possibly, songs.

Musical Director

What is involved: Musical Director - with the Director leading from behind!the Musical Director (MD) is in charge of the music in a production. She (or he) sets the musical style for the production, selects the music (often in liaison with the Director), finds and manages the orchestra, teaches and directs the orchestra and the performers during rehearsals and, of course, conducts orchestra and on-stage performers during the show. She must also obtain copies of music and ensure that copyright/licence issues are handled.

Often the musical structure (i.e. balance between solo/choral songs, unaccompanied music and dance work) is set by the script, but the MD may change this. There can be overlap between the MD and the Director. See more

What experience is needed: clearly this is a highly skilled job - she must have a sound understanding of music (instrumental, chorus and dance), be able to read music and to conduct the orchestra and performers. It helps if she can play an instrument and sing (although not all excel in this respect!!). Finally, she needs excellent 'people' skills, to get the best out of those involved. The job can occasionally be emotionally draining!

How much time will it take: again lots. Much time is spent in preparation. You attend most rehearsals and all performances.

Orchestra

What is involved: Part of the Orchestra for My Fair Ladyplaying music for a Panto or musical, using sheet music provided. H.A.T.S. typically have a small musical team with an electric piano, an organ (both transposable) and drums. Some productions may use a wider range of instruments. Keyboards are provided by H.A.T.S.; other instruments are normally provided by players. The Theatre orchestra pit extends the width of the stage and takes up to six performers.

What experience is needed: an ability to play your instrument, read music and follow the direction of the Musical Director. You may sometimes need patience during rehearsals - after the sixth repeat of a difficult number!

How much time will it take: quite a lot - you will attend most rehearsals (25) and all performances. You may also wish to practise at home!

 

Choreographer

What is involved: Choreographed dance in Aladdinworking with the musical director and director to plan and rehearse the dance routines in pantos and musicals. Some directors may additionally wish you to help plot movement in crowd scenes. A rewarding role which adds immensely to the artistic 'texture' of the production.

What experience is needed: dancing skill, artistic vision and an ability to 'coach' inexperienced (but enthusiastic) dancers.

How much time will it take: quite a lot! Planning, then attending most rehearsals (25). You probabably cannot resist attending performances.

Chorus

What is involved: The role of young adults in the chorus!the chorus plays a key role in creating the overall ambiance of a panto or musical. You will sing within a group and will certainly have moves to learn and quite possibly (if you wish) a small speaking part as well.

What experience is needed: none! Just the joy of singing and at least a reasonable voice. People of 13 and above (for legal reasons) and both sexes are welcome, singing in any register. Practising at rehearsals will improve your voice to a degree.

How much time will it take: quite a lot. Most rehearsals and all performances. Extra time is spent learning songs. You must decide in advance whether you can make this commitment - you don't want to drop out half-way!

Dancers

What is involved: She wears Red Feathersas part of the chorus in a panto or musical you will be involved in dancing as a group. You will probably sing as well, sometimes at the same time!

What experience is needed: little, as we will teach the moves and performance style. Again, as in all matters theatrical, enthusiasm and dedication will take you far. Most dancing tends to by done by females and many tend to be relatively young - those who are not, tend to feel younger (is that the word?) as time goes on!

How much time will it take: quite a lot! Most rehearsals (25) and all performances. Possibly extra rehearsals for dancers alone.

Prompt

What is involved: Promptsitting off-stage, following the scripts and feeding lines to actors who have (momentarily) forgotten their words. A daunting job for it is difficult to work out whether an actor is enjoying a 'dramatic pause' or suffering a mental lapse! And you have to do this sitting in the dark peering at the book (helped by a torch), whilst stage staff and actors swirl around you.

What experience is needed: patience, strength and a clear voice. Acting experience helps you sense whether an actor means it (the pause) or not!

How much time will it take: a reasonable amount - you will attend rehearsals towards the end of the period and all performances.

Convinced?

Now if any of this sounds complicated and too much to learn - don't worry, it's not. Take a little at a time and have great fun whilst you're doing it. Mind you, even finding your way backstage at H.A.T.S. is an adventure - most of us, when new and rushing to get on-stage on cue, take the first turning right and end in the toilet!!

There is always someone to help you through at H.A.T.S. and eventually you get things right - and what a sense of achievement you then have.

Now See

Further details about Production Team or Front of House or return to the Overview