ome suggestions about
the stage. Faire is an excellent place to learn to be on the
stage. The audience has already paid and they're probably
drinking. They're out to have a good time and your half-hour slot
is a tiny part of their day. If your show is a trainwreck, heck
you're doing it again at 2:30 (and 4:30) and its not like this
audience was coming back for seconds anyhow. Its instant
feedback: if the back of the house is disengaged, they'll likely
get up and leave.
That's the good news. The bad news is that it is hot and your
audience is tipsy. The screaming from the sky chairs drowns out
the back of the house. There is a parade at 1:18pm every single
day. There are belly dancers at the nearby booth. But you will
persevere! You will make the audience your friend and for thirty
minutes seduce them away from all the other pleasures of the
- The audience: Your Friend
- You're here to put on a show. The audience is here to see a
show. You are natural partners so long as neither of you breaks
the trust. Your part is to be engaging, audible, comprehendible
and focussed. In turn, the audience will mostly pay attention,
laugh in nearly the right spots, and occasionally get up to
take their children to the privy.
- Speak to the audience
- When addressing someone on the stage, it is natural to want
to face them. This puts the audience to your side where they
can neither see your face nor hear your words. Directe lines
towards the audience. Start from upstage so you face the
audience and stage as you take center. Speak out and then turn
your focus to your fellow actor. Think of it as giving
testimony in court -- its the jury that needs to hear you.
Speak to them.
- Make eye contact
- Whatever you're talking about is important! If you don't
believe this, why would the audience? Don't look at the ground,
tree, ale stand. Make eye contact with members of the audience
and speak directly to them.
- Project your voice
- Speak from your gut! Throw that line out! Look at the back
row of seats and speak to them. Do your vocal warmups.
- Reduce your BFA
- If the audience can't understand you, they're not likely to
be interested. (Exception: physical comedy.) Subdue the Faire
Accent and enunciate -- be certain you can be heard and
understood in the back of the house.
- Bigger is better
- Especially on stages near noisy exciting streets, you need
to be large and animated to keep the audience's attention.
- If its funny once...
- It'll be funnier a third time. Pace your animation and
build up for the punchline. An advantage of repetition is that
the distracted audience will eventually catch on to the build
- Support your fellow Actors
- Your job doesn't end when you stop speaking! Keep your
attention on the speaker and react as the show unfolds. You're
not supposed to know what comes next -- so be surprised,
shocked, angry, sad -- when it comes. Wait for it: don't jump
- Do post-show Notes
- How did the show go? Have a cast member in the audience
watch the show (from the back of the house) and give notes.
Could they hear? Could they see? Did the audience laugh? Did
they stay with the show or did they get distracted and
- Nervous? Its totally normal.
- While only about 1 out of 10 people suffer from
debilitating anxiety, about 7 or 8 suffer mild bouts of
nervousness or panic (according to NPR). That its normal or
natural doesn't make it better, but knowing that everyone deals
with it should make it slightly less scary.
Check out the mindbending Impro from Keith
Johnstone. 'Sound & Fury' swear by Gary Izzo's
The Art of