Backstage preparation allows for relaxed performance

Luke Wyrick

Video shot by Luke Wyrick, made by Daphne Yu
Speaking dramatically and conversing with one another in accents corresponding with the light-hearted play “A Midsummer’s Jersey,” a backstage room filled with clouds of hairspray and amateur hairdressers directed preparation for the show. When watching a performance, an audience views the vigorous action that appears onstage but leaves to the back of the mind what allows this play to occur. Sophomore Seth Camara shared what is important to configure before the curtains rise.
“One thing [that you have to do before the show] always check your props, make sure you know where they are, you don’t want to find out that something’s misplaced halfway throughout the show,” Camara said. “And maybe just check the stage and be able to envision yourself so that you’re prepared for the actual performance so you don’t mess up.”
Self-encouragement also plays a major part in the foundation of getting into character. Making sure that he is motivated provides him with the proper confidence to act in front of a crowd of several people.
“I sort of just try to uplift myself emotionally to get excited and energetic for the show,” Camara said. “I don’t really get nervous throughout our performance.”
With wise words from his mother, he ignores the audience members that may cause self-consciousness and executes his persona with ease. Although he has had ample practice for his part, he expresses how he feels about people who must be on a stage in front of just as many people or more without any rehearsal.
“I have been practicing this and I know what to do and for people who don’t go through an audition process such as public speakers and things like that, it’s really hard for them to not be nervous,” Camara said. “But something my mother says is ‘fake it till you make it,’ try as hard as you can, and if you’re too nervous just pretend you’re alone.”
Focus on stage is an important component of a show and must happen or it runs a risk of inadvertence. Acting and Children’s Theater teacher Mary Margaret Coffield said that spending time closely with one another allows her students to get into character comfortably.
“As we get closer and closer [to opening night] I think they spend more time getting focus on who they need to be, as their character, and as they work so closely with one another that they give one another the kinds of cues and behaviors that help their acting partners get into character,” Coffield said. “So I’m noticing, especially with this show, partly because it’s a light, funny show and the characters are very accessible to the students, they get into character very easily.”
Having capabilities that provide skills outside of the PAC are an integral characteristic that Coffield hopes her students will contain when they are gone.
“There are several life skills you learn from doing theater, one is learning how to solve problems with other people,” Coffield said. “Because in a show, most are not one-person shows and require people to collaborate and cooperate and help each other.”
For first-time performer senior Daniel Duerto, he said approached the stage with absolute confidence. He believes that confidence is the key to an efficient presentation and to focus on personal qualities given to assist him.
“Just don’t care about what people are going to think of you and be confident in yourself. People just don’t have enough confidence in our age, and I go out there and I know I’m going to make people laugh because that’s what I do,” Duerto said. “So I go up and I want to make people laugh, and people just need to focus on what they’re good at and be proud of it.”
The acting team comprised of Coffield and her students aren’t the only ones that work together to make sure the show goes on. Building the sets and attending dress rehearsals just as the performers do are only some of the jobs that Theatre Tech teacher Newton Crosby’s students do. His students are the sole members that bring lights and sound to the scaffold.
“My students are the ones who build all the sets, and who work the backstage and work the sound and the lights, so our job is to try to make sure the actors look good,” Crosby said. “We usually go through dress rehearsals with the actors and practice and practice.”
Collaborating with each other’s characters is a base of senior Gracie Strawn’s compilation before going on stage. She shared what she concurs is imperative to do when working with her co-stars.
“Basically memorizing lines and knowing what your character is and how you can make it better,” Strawn said. “And how you can make it fit with the other characters.”
Proper mentality when performing in front of a crowd is something that Strawn stresses. Amidst the several eyes that view the performers, she overcomes nervousness with a strategy of her own.
“[I tell myself] just to not think that there’s that many people out there because you can’t see their faces when you’re on stage anyway,” Strawn said. “And to just treat it like another rehearsal.”
By Luke Wyrick
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