For New Actors
Short Film Contests
Money Back Guarantee
- FREE Script Websites
- How to Prepare a Scene
- The Lifebook Booking Procedure (How to book work on the schedule)
- Class Guidelines
- Stage Managing: Benefits and Responsibilities
Script Websites (plus a dialect website!)
(Written by Charlene Mayo, and Steve Moulton, Stage Managers at Lifebook, 7/14/07)
If you can't find your script on one of these script websites do a google search and see what you can find. If you still can’t locate it, rent the film and ask an officer or fellow student to transcribe it for you. (Last resort if you must do it yourself – mute the film and copy the subtitles – try not to look at the actors as we want you to make your own choices and not be influenced by theirs).
The reason we ask this is because if you transcribe it, you will play and rewind and play and rewind to jot down the lines and get the actors performance in your head and even if unintentional this may influence your scene work. We want YOU to bring your art and your ideas to the script. Those actors have already been paid!
... AND a Dialect Website!!!
Steve's Note: Studying dialects (or accents) is a lot harder than it looks. Some people are good at them naturally, some people think they are good at them, and some people claim they "can't" do them at all. Either way, as an actor, the more proper training you have (in anything) the better suited you are to act. This site contains recordings of people from many different countries giving you examples of their own accent. Most of the recordings come with descriptions of exactly where the person was born and raised, and often where else they've lived that may have affected their accent. i.e. My father was born and raised with a thick New Hampshire/Maine accent. After 19 years living in Pennsylvania as an adult, everyone in Maine and New Hampshire now think he sounds like he's from Connecticut. Go figure!
Look at just the city of London. The standard, "higher-class" brittish dialect is a far cry from the "working-class" cockney dialect, but both were born in the very same city. Shaw's Henry Higgins, of "My Fair Lady"/"Pygmalion" quips that, when it comes to London, he can hear a person speak and correctly deduce the block they were raised on. Not just the general neighborhood, but the exact BLOCK.
So, with dialects, as with many other facets of acting, be specific, seek tutelage, and practice, practice, practice!!!
And be sure to visit ... http://web.ku.edu/idea/index.htm as a good place to start.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A SCENE :-)
Written By Charlene Mayo, Stage Manager, on 2/14/07 for the Lifebook Community
How to Prepare for a Scene
Putting up scene work in class is both challenging and rewarding on many levels. Doing scene work in class requires you to be much more than just an actor. You must also be a director*, a producer, a writer, a prop master, a wardrobe mistress; a sound engineer... the list goes on and on. In essence, you must wear the hat of every position you would find on any theatrical or film project. That's a lot of hats! But don't get discouraged. It's actually quite fun wearing so many hats. =)
*You are a director directing your own acting choices and ideas. Do not direct your scene partners unless you've been approved to direct the scene by the teacher or stage manager (if you are advanced).
Here are the few steps you must go through to develop a scene for class…now break a leg!
Find your character
First things first. You need to know who you want to play. If you've just joined Lifebook, then you already have your first castings list. These castings are to help you with your career path. You will need to ask yourself, "What character will help me grow as an artist?" This can be a difficult question to answer but remember there is no right or wrong answer. Use whatever works for you and stay on track with your artistic path. Of course not every single character you play has to be the "perfect" character or vehicle. This is a workshop! Have fun! But keep in mind that the best scenes for you are the ones that will help you to attain your ticket in to the big show (real professional acting work that can evolve into an entire career)!
Find your script
The next thing is to get your hands on the script. Plays or screenplays, they both work. There is a blog listing of several websites on www.lifebookacting.com that offer scripts for free download. Check it out. You can also browse the shelves at Samuel French. If you're having a hard time tracking down your script and find yourself at wits end, you can always rent the DVD/VHS and ask a friend/classmate to transcribe a scene for you. We recommend that you don't transcribe scenes yourself because while writing, rewinding, and writing again you are getting the scene burned in your mind…and those actors have already been paid. We want you to bring your skill and art to the stage!
Find your scene
You've got your character and you've searched and searched and finally found the script. Whew! Now what? The next step is to find a scene involving your character. So what makes a good scene? Good question. Keep in mind where you'll be performing - on a stage in class. When choosing your scene, you'll want to avoid big blockbuster movie moments like exploding bombs, massive large-scale warfare, jumping off cliffs... the kinds of things that require professional stunt people or special effects to pull them off. Scenes from stage plays are a great way to go. Stage plays are written for - drumroll, please - the stage! Perfect for class work.
Another thing to consider is scene length…shoot for three to five minutes. Scenes any longer than 5 minutes, with only two main actors, need to be approved by a stage manager. Keeping scenes under 5 minutes allows us to be able to get in as much work as possible and have time for full and concise critiques and other class work such as improvs, monologues, etc.
Find your booking
Now that you know what scene you're going to put up in class, it's time to schedule a time for your amazing performance! Contact the booking officer for your class. It is preferred that all booking be done during class time (see the full booking procedure on Myspace and on the Lifebook website) Remember, once your name is on the scene schedule, or "on the books" as we like to call it, you're committed. Record that date for your scene in your day planner IN INK. This is your virtual shooting day. So take it seriously. Actors not prepared for their scene work and have not replaced their spot will need to contribute to the Lifebook Scholarship Fund. This should not happen. Bring in the great work!
Find your cast
Okay, on to the next step - your co-star(s). With whom would you like to work? Take a look at the other characters in your scene and browse your class roster. Who would be a good fit to play these other characters? Sometimes you don't find anyone in class who fits the character you want to cast in your scene. That's okay. Choose the best suited from what's available. The class roster is always changing so work with what you have. Sometimes we discover great moments from actors because they try their hand at a character who is a stretch for them. So don't be shy. Ask anyone in class to be in your scene. Experience the variety of talent we have available to us! The full Phone List for class is available to you.
Find your time
Now it's time to get down to the real work - acting! So how do you go about rehearsing a scene? Many people have many different techniques in their rehearsal process. For example, I've seen actors who like to do a table read first. Then there are actors who want to dive right in, get up on their feet and start fully playing the character right from the start. For you, use whatever works. But always remember, you have a responsibility to your scene partner(s). Respect their methods and if there is a difference in approach, find a compromise with which everyone can move forward.
How much time should I put into rehearsal before the scene is ready?
We have a guideline at LifeBook - three hours of rehearsal for every one minute of scene. Seems like a lot, doesn't it? When it gets down to it, it's actually not enough. This is recommended minimum so that you can find all the greatness in the scene and dive into it with both feet. The discovery process is where we grow! The more that you rehearse the more you find in the character and come up with ideas to make the scene better! This is a workshop. Doing the rehearsal will improve your acting so when you go to set you will be prepared and have the ideas and the knowledge at your fingertips!
So I'll just remind you of a few things to consider while developing your scene - wardrobe, props, set dressing, sound. These are just some of the details aside from acting. Think outside the box. Take risks. And always remember to bring your absolute BEST work to class. Be a professional! Leave no stone unturned. Pull out all the stops! Have fun!
It is recommended that you do rehearsal reports. We are no longer collecting these but it is good for you to keep record of your rehearsals to know how much time you put into your work.
Find your performance
We've done a lot up to this point and it's time to reward yourself. It's time to be a star! On your booking day, show up extra early to class. If possible, find out where your scene is in the line up for the evening. Talk to the stage manager and let him/her know what your set up is like. If it's a big set up, we'll need to know.
Come to class with great energy and ROCK 'em dead!
But wait, when your scene is done, it's not over yet. Now it's time for the critique. This is most important. So when your scene is finished, get settled into a chair in front of the class and prepare yourself to listen AND to hear. Your scene is done. Leave it. Get your critique now. Be a sponge. Take it all in. Listen. Hear. Learn. The critiques are now available to be recorded, so if you have a recorder – bring it and give it to a stage manager to hit record when Allen starts speaking so you can put these notes to work!
You've done a great job with your scene! Can't wait to see you on stage and witness the evolution of the artist within YOU!
If you have any questions about scene work, feel free to ask the stage managers.
Break a leg!
The Lifebook Booking procedure
- Scenes - There will be 4 booked scenes every week and one floater scene. The floater scene will be the 5th scene booked for that class. By taking the floater scene for that week you know that there is a possibility that the scene will get bumped to the next week, or will be pushed up in case of a cancellation. ONLY THE COMING WEEK OF SCENES IS SOLID, all other weeks are considered "penciled-in" and may be moved around.
- 24 Hour list – These are scenes that will always be prepared and ready for class in case of a cancellation or if time permits for more work. We should always have scenes on this list – they could get pulled up at any time. These scenes can either be full set up scenes (you will get 24 hr notice of a cancelled spot), or 2-3 minute scenes with little/no set-up that can just be put up on the spot. The new 24 hour list will encompass:
- Full Scenes
- Short No Set-Up Scenes
- Audition Exercises
- Cold Reads
- Improv Exercises
- Monologues – Monologues from now on work on a 24 hour list basis. (technically they've always been 24 hr list basis) Scenes are the meat and Monologues are the potatoes. Monologues get fit in where they can in between scene work. For this reason Lifebook strongly encourages that you keep your monologues 3 minutes and under. Monologue training is mainly for performance for industry people (agents, casting directors, etc) and you will most likely not be performing monologues that are 10 minutes long with props at an audition. Monologues should have little set up and be quick so that they can be repeated in the workshop.
- Long Scenes – Scenes that are 8 minutes or more from now on need to be approved by Allen, or the stage managers. We strongly encourage students to bring short scenes so that more work can go up. With short scenes they can also be redirected with notes and go again.
- New Student 1st scene privilege – The books for the scene study classes can often get full very quickly. For this reason from now on new students will have a 1st scene privilege. Within the first month of starting class (after their environment exercise), new students will be able to book a scene in class at any time if they choose. That means that one scene will be bumped, and the schedule will shift down. If a scene must be bumped we will try to bump a scene that is a redo or the floater scene. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility on this! J If you want a guaranteed spot in the next month, get to know the new students and welcome them to the Lifebook Family!
- Booking a scene! – Sometimes there are miscommunications or the booking officers feel overwhelmed at the end of class because everyone is trying to book scenes, so we have come up with something so easy! A new procedure! There will be a booking sheet posted at the front of the theater on the bar in the lobby every class. Here is how it will work:
- You'll write your name, your scene partners and what scene and put it in your desired spot date.
- If you have schedule conflicts or will be out of town put that in the "Days Unavailable" area.
- The Booking Officer will take this sheet at the end of class and work on the schedule and do the best they can to work with the dates you need and will get back to you with your date at the end of class.
- Check the schedule! – From now on the schedule will posted on the Lifebook Wall leading in to the theatre for as far in advance as we have it (it will be updated within 24 hours of the latest class) . It will your responsibility to check it once a week just in case your scene was bumped a week or if you are on the 24 hour list and there was a cancellation and your scene has been moved up. A booking officer will call you if your 24 hr list scene goes up.
- Cold reads/Audition Exercise – Cold reads and auditions exercises are a great way to get some work in if you have not had time to do full preparation for a scene. We will now keep a Cold Read/Audition Exercise list that can be called upon at any time and will work like the 24 hour list. So bring it!
- Unprepared Scene Fee – From now on if you have a scene spot you have up to 24 hours before class to prepare another scene and put it on the books. At this time you need to contact the booking officers or Charlene so we can amend the schedule, if you cannot prepare anything PLEASE call us as soon as you know so we can call a 24 hr list scene. If you come to class unprepared for your scene and do not have a replacement scene you will lose your spot and we will call to utilize the floater scene or something from the 24 hour list and you will owe $5 per scene partner into the Lifebook Scholarship fund.
If there are unusual circumstances, we will try to work with you, we will only bump scenes as a last resort, and we hope the new system will get as many people as possible on stage in each class!
-Allen and all the Lifebook Officers
1. Aside from bottled water, no food or drinks allowed in the theater
with the exception of scene work. Food can be stored behind the bar in the lobby and eaten at break.
2. Please do not stick your gum on the seats or carpet.
3. Please turn off/silent all cell phones during class.
4. Do not use real weapons in your scene work. Props to be used as
weapons must be checked and cleared by your stage manager.
5. Do not use real drugs / alcohol in your scene work.
6. Be ethical. Do not come to class under the influence. No drugs or alcohol should be in your system within 24 hours of class. We want you in the perfect state of mind to move ahead with your career as fast as possible.
7. Be ON time. 15 minutes early and ready in the seats is highly recommended.
8. Do not leave your seat during a scene to use the restroom or for any other matter. Try to use the bathroom on break, before or after class. If it’s an absolute must, walk to the right of the stage (stage left) behind the curtain during a critique. Try to avoid this unless you absolutely must go at that time.
9. Do not use your cell phone, Ipod, or any other electronic device during class time.
10. Respect and support your instructor and your fellow actors.
If you have any questions feel free to reach any of the Stage Managers. They will be more than happy to help you.
Now let's get started!
Stage Managing: Benefits and Responsibilities
- Tuition is half price
- being important in the lives of the students
- leadership experience / additional public speaking opportunity
- helping to run class and sometimes revise class policy
- an opportunity to give (giving is everything in terms of importance)
- getting to meet and talk to our celebrity guest speakers
- getting your own set of keys to our beautiful theatre!
- Stage Managing - General duties including stage assistance, weapon checking, opening up/locking up (you will be issued a set of keys), checking in with students during class to make sure they are being attentive and not distracted from class, being a listening ear to students when they need to talk or vent, assisting in set up or break down of scenes if necessary, etc.
- Attendance - Every class attendance needs to be taken before top of show. That way we know after the break if students have left or are missing and also to check in with anyone that wasn't there the week before that did not call in advance.
- Timing scenes - Each scene need to be timed. The reason we do this is because our general scene allowance is 6 minutes. This allows us to get in as much work as possible. Scenes over 6 minutes need to be approved first by Allen or a stage manager. Timing is also helpful for monologues. Especially if the actor wants to use it for an agent. This will let us know if it’s too long. Improv's need to be timed so we know when to stop them if we are doing a multiple person improv or stop the improv if it’s going too long.
- Scene notes - This is an important part of class. Often times it is difficult to take in everything that is being said. Even if you think you've retained everything during the critique when you go back to rehearse much of what was said is lost. We need a stage manager (preferably with good penmanship ha ha) to take scene notes. I generally use a 8 1/2x11 notebook and use one sheet per scene. One side for each person. Since most scenes are two people this works out well. If there are more people in a scene you can divide the page up. If actors want to have their own notes and rehearse individually leave that to them to make copies.
- Finance - Each week check your records and see who is due. Currently there are SEVERAL month to month students so this can get difficult checking in with everyone. The easiest thing to do is to check your records every week or if you find a excel system that works out best for you that may be more efficient. I do a series of reminders. If a student is due a week from Monday I do an end of class reminder the week before. I then follow up with an email and the day of a text message. For the 12 week-students it’s good to give at least a 3-4 week advance in class reminder. Followed up by a week in advance reminder and finally a email a few days before followed up by a text message. Especially for the 12-week students $350 can be a big chunk of change for the struggling actor and they need as much advance notice as possible to make sure they pay on time.
- Booking - Each week you’ll be building the schedule for all the students. Coordinate with students for scenes, exercises, monologues. Keep track as far into the future as students would like to book. Do your best to keep students from canceling scenes. If they do not have a replacement the night of class – collect $5 for the scholarship fund per person and have finance keep a record of all scholarship payments. Turn in the scholarship money with the tuition to finance. Put a scene sign-up sheet on the bar and tape a schedule up to the wall just before entrance into the theatre. When %50 or more of a month’s tuition is due – nominate a student for the next month’s savings. We’ll vote and then the scholarship will be awarded. Keep a notebook of all records including any assignments that students get during a critique.
- Open the gate and door
- bottom right corner of gate is a box lock. unlock it to obtain a set of keys.
- use keys to unlock masterlock on the gate and door.
- put keys back into box lock.
- Turn on the Air Conditioning if it's a warm day - two separate A/C units:
- First unit: flip switch located beside front door entrance
- Second unit in the back behind stage attached to a high ledge behind the door with the door knob: hold down upper right button until you hear two short beeps.
- Turn on the lights
- turn on house lights: flip switch located beside curtain entrance leading to the stage
- turn on stage lights: climb up the ladder found behind lobby desk
- turn on red light if you'd like - this makes it easier to see
- turn on two of the bottom black boxes on far left of stage light control room, beside top of ladder.
turn on the master control board:
- flip two switches underneath EACH box (so four switches total, a box becomes active/turned on when green numbers on the box appear.)
turn on hall light leading to bathroom behind the red curtain turn on back room light (switch is located beside bathroom entrance) Put out an attendance sheet and a separate work list sheet
- flip switch found underneath the control board towards the upper right corner
- press "black out" button found atop the control board towards bottom right corner
Refill toilet paper and paper towels
- - place 2 blank pieces of paper and pen on lobby desk
- if running low, paper towels located in closet behind lobby desk
- if running low, toilet paper usually located in back room
- do not leave new toilet paper packages in bathroom
- Organize backroom (room beside bathroom, behind stage)
- make neat (e.g. stack books away, put clothes on hangers, arrange chairs neatly, etc.)
- Closing Duties
- Turn off both A/C Units
- for A/C unit in back of stage, hold down upper right button and unit turns off completely when you hear one long beep.
- for A/C unit in front, turn off switch and you will hear unit go silent
- Turn off ALL Lights: backroom light, hall light, house lights, stage lights, and red light in stage light room.
- Take out the trash
- check underneath theatre seats for food. clean out any food from stage otherwise will get a fruit fly infestation.
- take out ALL trash (bathroom trash and lobby trash) and put into big garbage bin behind building
Vacuum the the carpet (can be done as an opening duty rather than closing)
- to unlock garbage bin, use purple tag keys atop drum cymbals found in locked closet.
- to unlock the closet, use correct combination on combo lock
- Important: Properly relock the garbage bin and relock the key where you found it.
- use vacuum found behind lobby desk to vacuum lobby and theater carpet.
Do a mental check
- electrical outlet found by curtain entrance to stage.
Lock up the place
- ensure everything has been turned off and all procedures are done before leaving building.
- lock door and close behind you
- close gate behind you and lock gate
- Important: Pull gate to ensure it does not swing open.
- Bring any Lifebook acting mail and flyers into the building and TELL Allen that he has new mail.
Arrive 15 minutes early to complete opening duties, 30 minutes if you are to vacuum upon arrival. Don't leave valuables (purse, jacket, etc.) in the lobby while completing opening duties. If someone enters the theater while you're still completing you're opening duties (and Allen isn't there yet), don't be scared or embarrassed. Smile... be friendly, greet them, and introduce yourself.
- I recommend placing new mail on Allen's theater chair because if you place the new stuff on the desk, it might be mistaken as old, unimportant trash/paperwork left behind by yesterday's class.
- Let them know you're a stage manager because they might think you're a thief that has broken into Lifebook.
- You should also ask them what they are here for in case he or she is up to no good.
- If all is safe and well, WELCOME THAT PERSON to Lifebook :-)