What a CYT Director wants you to know about Auditions

The below post was written by Heather LaForge, CYT Inc’s multitasking Director of Operations and CYT San Diego show director. Enjoy!

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As each new CYT session approaches, students across the country scramble, frantically trying to choose that perfect audition song. Your mind brims with questions. Does it fit my vocal range? Does it align with the show? Can I demonstrate my acting abilities through it? Nerves run high and dreams get stressful as students await…dun-dun-dun…audition day.

Students, did you know that your directors are feeling many of the same emotions as you? Audition day is just as nerve-wracking to us! For months we are thinking, pondering, wondering how we will do this show. Scripts are read over and over again. Cuts are made. Question marks riddle the score. And all this is done in anticipation of just who will be cast in these roles.

You see, there’s so much work to be done in preparation for a show. But until we know who is cast, we can’t really visualize what the show will be. Then auditions arrive and we are greeted by you all. You all who are filled with nerves and excitement. You all who are praying desperately that God would calm you enough so you don’t get weird nervous shaky voice. You all who remind us so much of ourselves when we were your age but of whom we think they are so much braver, better, stronger than I ever was.

The secret, friends, is that while you are desperately trying to appear calm, so are we. The big smile we give you is real. Because we have had those dreams where literally no one shows up to auditions and we are left to cast our own gerbil as the role of Annie. So when you are there in front of us, with your brave voice, and strong character, and (hooray!) you can pirouette too, we are thrilled. Because with your talent and eagerness, and our guidance, this show will go on.

I’m looking forward to my auditions next week. Praying for all of you as you prep your songs across this country; and I’m praying for all you directors too.

CYT presents: Video Curriculum

Wanna learn a triple time step from the comfort of your living room? How about learn how a CYT director prepares for callbacks? Or a helpful game to hold the attention of students and keep them quiet?

Enter CYT Video Curriculum.

CYT thinks it’s important for everyone to have access to arts education, so they started a small library of dance, theater games, and director videos via a playlist on their YouTube channel.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.49.36 PM They want to develop more and more instructional videos so CYT students can work on their craft whenever they have free time. In the future, CYT plans to incorporate these videos with registration software so students can automatically have access to them when they register for a CYT class.

Making quality videos takes time and resources, and if you’d like to contribute toward making them possible, please donate at: http://donate.cyt.org

I’d write more but I’m going to go learn how to do the buffalo.

What is CYT? Travis Russell (and a video) explain.

You may have seen the new What is CYT? video circulating around the webiverse recently. It’s an awesome look into the CYT program as a whole and highlights kids from Affiliates around the country having a blast putting on various productions. It sort of makes me wish I was under 18 again.

And while many people had a hand in making the film, I sat down with the guy who ultimately put all the pieces together: Travis Russell, CYT Inc’s Director of Communications.

Travis, break it down for me – technically speaking, why are videos a good idea?

Videos have a much greater impact connecting with people. If you look at the analytics for different mailers, posts, and pages that contain video, its engagement is easily 3-5 times higher than content without video.

A few CYT Affiliates had been asking for quite some time for a short video that would act as a “teaser trailer” to explain what CYT is. With the Spring 2014 shows quickly approaching, the time seemed right so I sifted through hours of footage and selected the best clips.

The video is super rad and I know it took a lot of work from a lot of people. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

Most of the footage came from CYT Lafayette and their amazing videographer John Rabalais from Focus Productions. Some of the footage was from Corrie Cooper from CYT NYC, and CYT San Diego. I did most of the editing which was fairly easy due to the great “CYT Theme Song” written by CYT Inc’s own Renee Kauffman.

I know nothing about making a professional video. Take me through the process.

First, using Final Cut Pro 10, I laid down the music track and marked any key music changes that needed to be on beat. I laid in the clips we selected and then trimmed each transition. The hardest part for me, not being skilled with words, was coming up with concise, explanatory text. Being simple with your text is hard.

Yes, it is. Thank you for acknowledging. Continue.

I previewed the whole video a few times making little tweaks and changes. Once it’s done you have to export it, upload it, and share it with the world. I can only watch it a few times before I go crazy wishing I had more time to make it even better.

Spoken like a true creative.

The hope is to one day be able to curate quality footage from all CYTs so everyone is represented. I hope to make many more videos about CYT so we can really get the message out about why arts education and teamwork are so important.

Thanks for the insights, Travis!

You can watch the video on YouTube, and then head over to CYT Inc’s Facebook to share it with your network of peeps.

Best Practices for Promoting Your Show on Social Media

Social Media

We live in a world centered around social media. That said, let’s fully embrace it and use it to our advantage, shall we?

CYT affiliates can promote their shows on Facebook by making official event pages to create immediate buzz (read: attendance) through RSVP’s, comments, likes, and shares. The Spring semester is right around the corner so it’s the perfect time to learn how to get the word out about your upcoming shows.

CYT Affiliates:

  1. Create an official event from your Page or Group on Facebook (see example)
  2. Link it to the “Pricing Text Box” on your website (graphics can be found in CYT Box/General/Marketing/Graphics/facebook-event.jpg)
  3. Promote the event page and encourage your followers to invite friends and family
  4. Use your Twitter account to send out tweets with the Facebook link

CYT Students & Parents:

  1. Don’t create your own event!
  2. Make sure you “like” and/or become a member of your affiliate’s page or group
  3. RSVP to the event, and then invite your friends and family to the official event page (paste the link on your personal FB page, or any of your social media channels – Instagram, Vine, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. The possibilities are clearly endless.)

Happy promoting!

Teacher Tips: Creative Movement Steps for Young, Difficult Children

Parents often enroll their children in CYT movement classes at the suggestion of doctors when their children have behavioral, sensory, or developmental disorders.

Many CYT teachers might feel overwhelmed in this situation.

However, all you need is patience, creativity, and sensitivity to create an inclusive classroom:

1. As with any children’s class, quick activity changes while maintaining routine is essential. Depending on the age, switch movement tasks every 5 minutes. If you keep the same order every class, it is easier to introduce new tasks to a child who needs strict routine.

2. Circular rubber mats, aka dots, are wonderful when you have children that need constant refocusing. If they get carried away, you can always call them back to their dots.

3. When teaching new material, approach the task with confidence and enthusiasm. Do not place emphasis on perfection. That will only undermine the children’s trust in your unconditional support.

4. These children will benefit from improvisational dance or pretend play. Encourage them to interact with each other, perhaps by dancing in a circle or creating pretend environments. Once they figure out that you want them to do what they normally do at home, they will freely indulge themselves in free creative play. Once that happens, calmly make suggestions to direct their play to enhance your curriculum. If the topic of the day was barn dances, direct their free play to create a barn-yard scene. Or have them pretend to dance like cows.

5. Young children with behavioral disorders may refuse to participate, at first. Allow the child to sit out. Repeat the invitation to join in every minute. Do not give up. Eventually the child will participate. Sometimes it can take up to two months of weekly classes for the child to feel comfortable enough with you, the other children, and the activities. Once, I created a “puppeteer” character in a showcase script for a girl who could not even speak in class. She shook her head “no” to everything else, but she felt she could perform in that role. And she did a fine job.

I always lose my breath when I see a “difficult” child blossom in my class. What a gift to be there at the moment!

Contributed by Mariah Beachboard, CYT Fredericksburg Teacher

Mariah Beachboard, mother of three, studied theatre at the University of Mary Washington. After graduation, she performed with Theatre IV and the Carpenter Science Theatre Company. While starting a family she taught dance, acting, yoga, and musical theatre at the Performance Place. This is her tenth session with CYT. She is currently teaching Acting Approaches (13-18) for CYT Fredericksburg.


Show Director Update: Tips for Memorizing Lines

So you’ve gotten a part in your CYT musical – congratulations!!

Whether it’s your first or your 15th role, every actor eventually hits a time when the number of lines seems daunting to them. No matter what the size of your role, it’s important for the show, and for your fellow cast mates, that you have those lines down cold! There are two parts to learning lines:

  1. learning the line itself, and…
  2. knowing your cue – or when to say it.

The rhythm of the show depends on dialogue that moves at the right pace. Your goal should be to know your lines so well that you’re not even thinking about the lines anymore. This lets you focus on becoming fully engaged as the character.

Tip 1: Read!

Read the scenes that you are in over and over again. Even when you’re not actually saying a line, if you are on stage, you should be reacting to and engaged in the scene. This part of the process cannot be underestimated. Read through your scenes at least once every day, even while you’re practicing the other tips.

Tip 2: Work the lines!

Learn each individual line. Start by reading it out loud, then cover the line and try again. Repeat until you can say each line without looking at the page. This is a good time to try out different ways to say it – explore your character possibilities!

Tip 3: Work the scene!

Dealing with one scene at a time, use a piece of paper to cover the page and slide it down so that you reveal only one line at a time. Say your lines at the right times. This is important for picking up your cues. Make sure you know what comes before your line (not just a word or phrase, but the overall idea, because you never know when someone might drop a line and it’ll be up to you to pick up what was missed!)

Tip 4: Work with a partner!

Grab Mom, Dad, a friend or a sibling and ask them for help. Now is the time to hand over your script. Have your partner read all the other parts of the scene and you chime in with your lines. If you miss a cue, go back. If you stumble on a line, make sure you go back and work that line. Keep doing this until you’re completely comfortable with when to jump in with your line.

Tip 5: Move around!

Make sure you practice your lines with expression and inflection. Every time you say them, you should mean them! Give energy to your lines and your character by standing up and moving through the scene just like you would on stage. Not sure of your blocking yet? No worries! Move around anyway:-)

Tip 6: Don’t stop reviewing!

Until the curtain closes for the last time, you should be reviewing your scenes and your lines. If you find yourself with some downtime offstage, practice with the others in your scene. Don’t wait around for someone to tell you to rehearse, grab your friends and practice!

Tip 7: Relax!

If you put in the time and work to learn your lines before opening night, when it comes to show time, take a deep breath and relax. Remember that you aren’t up there “saying lines,” you’re up there as a character, telling a story. So give your audience a great show!

This is certainly not the only way to tackle lines, but it might help give you a great start! Are you a pro at memorizing lines? What are your tips & tricks?

Contributed by: Sarah Anne Sumpolec, CYT Fredericksburg
Edited by: Jessica Cortez
Photo Courtesy of Doug Meacham, CYT Richmond