Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

If you’re using a mirror on stage, treat the glass so the lights don’t glare off it.

Not only is the light reflecting off a mirror distracting, it might hit an audience member. A good temporary solution is to spritz the mirror with hairspray. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s something we all carry, and it washes right off. A theatre trick is to spray the mirror (or glass) with diluted soda. You can also buy theatrical anti-glare spray, but I don’t see the need for that.

For a permanent solution, if your mirror is a dedicated prop, is to use some silvery paint. It will still look shiny, but you won’t get the reflections. Or, if it’s easy to remove the mirror from the frame, you can replace it with something else silvery (and non-breakable).

Photo is my vintage mermaid hand mirror without any glass treatment. I probably should have hairsprayed it and then taken another.

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 4 October 2019 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

Use stage directions.

It’s so much easier to give instructions to a performer or tech person, if we all speak the same language; in this case, a location on stage. Not all of us come from a theater background, so here’s a quick primer.

Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a stage. Look to your left, that’s stage left. To your right is stage right. Easy, no? The tricky part is if you’re standing in the audience; now if you look to your left, that’s stage right and also house left.

Now look out at the audience, you’re facing downstage. Turn around and now you’re looking upstage. I’m sure you’ve heard of “upstaging” someone. That happens when someone further back on the stage is drawing attention from the performer downstage and/or forcing them to turn their back on the audience to look upstage.

Why “up” and “down” instead of, say, “front” and “back”? Other than we already have a “backstage”? Until the 20th century stages were to be raked, that is, they sloped up away from the audience to improve the audience’s ability to see and hear the action. The performers were literally going up and down the stage as they moved closer and further from the audience.

Of course the very middle of the stage is center stage. You can also be center left, center right, down center, and up center. I usually specify “center center” for dead middle, but I’m not sure how common that is.

If everybody on the team uses these terms, you can be confident that everything and everyone ends up on the stage exactly where they’re supposed to be,

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 9 August 2019 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I can’t believe I’ve never shared this tip with you before. It’s some of my standard advice to my students.

Discard your costume pieces to the sides or back of the stage.

You want to keep your performance area clear. You don’t want to be stepping over your costume bits while you move about the stage — or worse, treading on them. It’s potentially bad for you as a tripping or slipping hazard and definitely bad for the costumes. Also, it’s less distracting. The audience will be looking at you and not that abandoned crinoline in the middle of the stage.

You may have noticed I didn’t tell you to discard toward the front of the stage. Part of that is visual aesthetics. As above, you don’t want the audience being distracted by clutter in front of your performance.

Sadly, the other reason is that costume pieces so close to the audience can become a tempting target for souvenir hunters. I know it sounds nuts, but I have heard too many stories from performers about audience members grabbing pieces of their costumes from the stage and spiriting them away. It’s so heartbreaking to realize an expensive, one-of-a kind item is just gone. The audience member may think they’re being a fan, but they’re just a thief. Keep the temptation away!

You could also take a page from our Legends and use a catcher to take your costumes after you remove them or perhaps have a decorative container in which to place your discards. These options also make life easier for the stage kittens.

Photo of my discarded gloves at ABurlyQ by Eric Peters Photography

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 26 July 2019 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I hope you’re going to join me tomorrow at Burlesque Beach Blast at Deacon Giles. Ticket prices go up at midnight, so grab yours now!

I was humbled to see that close to 200 people read last week’s tip. I hope you like this one too!

Rehearse your curtain call.

It’s the last thing the audience sees of your show, so you want it to be strong and clean. Here are somethings that will help create a professional-looking curtain call.

  • Know what order you’re entering. This could be the same order as performance or reverse or alphabetical. In the BeauTease we start with stage kittens as a group, then apprentices (also as a group), special guests, and then the troupe in order of seniority. What ever order you chose, make sure everyone knows it.
  • Know where to stand. After you’ve taken your bow and fade back, you should take a position on stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s a line or more creative placement as no one has to jockey for a place and each side of the stage is balanced.
  • Know if you’re staying in character or not. This doesn’t always apply in burlesque because often the “character” you play is your burlesque persona and you should stay in that character for as long as the audience can see you.
  • If you’re taking a group bow, be in unison. The easiest way to do this is have the person in the center lead the bow. It helps if you’re all holding hands and the leader will do something everyone can see, like nod. Then all together, hands go up, take your bow, count to two, then stand again, lowering your hands.
  • Acknowledge the tech staff. It’s always classy to extend a hand (all cast members should do this at the same time) to the back of the house.
  • Know how to exit. You should know where to exit (stage right, stage left, through the audience, &c.) and in what order you should leave. Someone should be designated to lead the cast off the stage and everyone can follow like baby ducks.
  • Know when to exit. Leave just after the applause has peaked, but before it starts to taper off. Lingering on stage is awkward.
  • After you’ve left the stage, you can come out into the audience or theatre lobby to meet your Adoring Fans.

    M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

    These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 14 June 2019 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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