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To Mask or Not To Mask

As the founder of a private institution where ALL my staff is vaccinated and we are mandating that every child who can be show proof of vaccination, I am flooded with parents asking me “NOT” to mask their children. Kids above the age of 12 who are vaccinated want to sing and dance without masks. I assumed everyone in NYC whose children take my dance and musical theater classes would want masks on other children, so no younger or older vulnerable people get sick, but this is not the case.

Parents have called and written pleading with me saying:

  1. My child has been masked for a year and a half and can no longer dance with a mask
  2. My teenager is breaking out and wants to meet boys
  3. What was the point of getting vaccinated with all other vaccinated people if you are making them mask?
  4. If you make them mask we want refunds
  5. Audrey, “Be Bold” a parent said – what does that even mean these days? 

Getting through last year was hard enough with 3 quarters of our students gone, but our strict mandates got us through the year without ONE case. 

What does an owner do, when there is no one really guiding the way?

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How We Brought Back In-Person Performing Safely (For Kids)

How has Applause safely reentered the world of performing arts for kids?

The most important thing to Applause for re-entry was  #studentsafety and staff as well as #community. Kids miss seeing their friends more than anything as well as doing what #children love (performing)!

We’ve mapped out space with 8-12 feet between each student. We taped out squares with 3 feet on each side and put a decal in the middle which is numbered . This way there is no question for anyone where a child’s space is!

Each child is given a number and a mapped out path to get to their space. As a child enters our space there is a distanced crew to take temp., dispense hand gel, & each child receives a fresh mask & face shield weekly.

Children must wear mask & put on face shield on top of the mask when it is time to sing.

Classrooms are fully sanitized between each class.

Any kind of snack or drink is distributed outside during break time when students go outside where spots are labeled as well.

We’ve opened safely for all students as well as our staff. Children and parents have thanked us profoundly in countless emails for figuring out how to do this where children can connect.

We offered outdoor distanced dance and musical theater classes as well as virtual classes.

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Top 5 Tips for a Great Audition

Pre-audition jitters are normal and numerous. We worry that we won’t be liked, we won’t do a good job and, ultimately, we won’t land the part. Here are a few confidence-boosting tips to quiet your nerves and at the same time improve your chances of success:

  1. That’s My Part! Casting directors’ sole purpose is finding the perfect person for the part. They are praying that the next person who comes into the room will be “that” person. If they find you then the process is over, and they can go home and relax. So, casting directors are rooting for you! Walk in that room knowing that you are the person they are looking for!
  2. Play the Part – Make It Your Own If a casting director sees the same audition over and over and over again, they will never cast you. They are looking for someone who stands out, someone who is bold and who makes INTERESTING choices – not the same as everyone else. However, you still need to keep the correct intentions in mind. A casting director still wants to see you know what the scene calls for. So don’t be afraid to make an interesting choice. Break up the monotony of the day. Casting directors will love you for it.
  3. Ace Your Intro When you introduce yourself, say your name with flair. Work on this beforehand. Announce your name in a way that will make everyone remember you. Your audition begins the moment you enter the room, so saying your name in a memorable manner will leave a lasting impression and make you stand out in the minds of the people watching. Run it by your friends and teachers to get it just right. Get comfortable with it. Go for it.
  4. Revel in the Moment Get in the mindset that you are acting, not auditioning. For two to five minutes of your life you get to star in the part you have always wanted. Recite that five-minute monologue from Hamlet as if it’s your dream role. Sing a song from Dear Evan Hanson as if you are headlining on Broadway. Take those five minutes and imagine yourself playing the part and enjoy it. It’s your five minutes, you might as well live the dream. That will come across really well. Now if you have moved on and you’re reading a scene or singing a song from the piece they are casting – imagine you have been given the role. It’s yours (see Tip 1). So, attack the piece like you have already been cast. For five minutes you have booked the role, so read or sing it like it’s yours.
  5. Leave ‘em Laughing Find the comedy in your life and jot it on your resume under special skills. For example, if you have a humorous hobby or funny part-time job put it down. Put down you are an incredible accordion player, if you have that skill. Put down you break dance while reciting haikus, if that’s your thing. Put it down if you sing Broadway music to babies. In most cases people will likely ask you about it if they see it on your resume. This gives the casting directors something to talk to you about, gives you a reason to talk and gives the “room” a way to remember you. This will also allow people to see you are easy to work with. If in fact it has come up during your audition, make sure to end with it as you’re leaving the room. This could take a little work on your part, and if you are having trouble coming up with a witty way to work it in to the audition, ask a friend for help and do some brainstorming. You want to be remembered!

So next time you walk into an audition, use these tips to calm your nerves and make it to the callback. Break a leg!!!

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So You Want To Be An Actor? Start Writing!

Acting is still the greatest profession in the world. What’s changed in recent years is the route that aspiring actors now need to follow to have the best shot at breaking into the business. Years ago, anyone wishing to be an actor followed the same, rigid path.

Step one: applying to a conservatory or earning a BFA in theater. After graduation, the hunt was on for an agent or manager to get you into auditions.The catch, of course, was that you couldn’t audition for a part in a Broadway show or movie without your Equity or SAG card, and you couldn’t get your Equity or SAG card unless you were in a Broadway show or a movie.

Step two: putting in the leg work. Every Thursday you bought your Backstage and circled all the auditions that could be right for you. Another must-have was something called the “Ross Reports”, a listing of every agent and manager in NYC and LA. The next couple of days you’d send out headshots and resumes, in the hopes an agent/manager would call you in and want to represent you. These were your chances of getting those high-caliber auditions you were dying for.

Along the way you learned to hate the word too. That’s because you were told almost daily that you were too ethnic, too heavy, too short, too tall, too plain, too similar to someone else or just too something. (Skinny might have been the only word in the English language never preceded by too.) You often left those meetings feeling defeated and deflated until your friends, parents, directors — anyone who believed in you — told you to get back out there and not to stop and not to listen to others’ opinions. You had to believe in yourself.

And then the game changed. Enter Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who decided to start writing their own material. Their efforts were nothing short of revolutionary when they wrote Superbad in high school. Suddenly, people we were not used to seeing on screen and who seemed to check all of the too boxes, were starring in our favorite movies. We were laughing, we were relating, and they were working. Suddenly out-of-work actors had another entry point into the business. No more sitting around waiting for someone to cast you. Instead of waiting for their big breaks, they got busy creating them.

Everyone has a story to tell. If you’re serious about getting into this business, it’s time to start telling yours.

Everyone has a story to tell. If you’re serious about getting into this business, it’s time to start telling yours. Get a writing partner if you are too scared to go it alone and start writing. Tell your stories, cast yourself in the parts. Nobody knows you like you know yourself.

So what’s the new route to stage and screen?

After you’ve written your story, put together the most talented group of kindred spirits you know and “go for it”. Do readings of your piece for family and friends and people in the industry. Get their feedback. Do rewrites. Put up a Crowdrise/Kickstarter page, and evite the world to more readings. Think big – and think ahead. Give your project a name with a legal agreement and ask for investors.

Make sure to make friends with everyone you know. Forge connections and cultivate relationships with people in your theater programs, high school shows, college programs, improv troupes and everywhere else you encounter the smart and talented. Maybe it’s one of your friends who writes something great. Make sure they put you in it.

Don’t wait for the jobs to come to you. Create the work for yourself. Study producing, directing, and take every class you possibly can so that you can create something wonderful that will showcase your talent. And it’s not just actors who are becoming proactive about their careers. Almost all directors and producers are also writing now, creating their own work. The business is now about writing and leveraging power to get a foot in the door and also land the projects that are perfect for you.

Don’t wait. Get started today. Sign up for some screenwriting classes. Take a YouTube class so you get to learn how speak on camera. Just get moving. Now is the time. Now is your time.