Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pre-Show Rituals

Actors all have their individual pre-show warm-ups – Vocal exercises that seem nutso to random passerby, but are excellent for warming up vocal cords, to yoga and Pilates stretches on the set, to under-breath tongue twisters while pacing backstage (Jake Elsas, who plays the Wizard, and myself traded variations on “The Big Black Bear.”)

But this is the first show I’ve been involved in where the cast has bonded to such a degree that they do group pre-show rituals. Because it’s such an ensemble piece, and there’s so much happening onstage, they play improv games in order to get the creative juices flowing, as well as sharpening focus and concentration. Yes, it would seem nutso to the random passerby as they stand in a circle and shout things like “Zip! Zap! Zop!” while rapidly jabbing fingers at each other. But it’s actually helping them get their energy levels up after what seems like the ten thousandth show. (None of us can remember what life was like before the show, though I’m sure we’ll figure it out soon.)

My favorite part comes when Stephaine Boltjies, our awesome stage director, calls for places. We all circle up, do a Go Team hands in, and then shout “OZ!” and dance around to the Go Bananas song for a few moments. There really is nothing better than being able to dance with your cast. I highly recommend it.

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