For Some Cobbler Actors, There Is No Off-season

By Sydnee Conroy and Sydney Engesser

Often times people are sympathetic to the tough practice the football team had preparing for the big game, but they might easily forget to acknowledge the hours the drama students put in preparing for the big show. During a production, drama students will practice Monday through Friday late into the night, and one week before show-time they will conduct a rehearsal marathon that requires the cast to be up before the rooster, practicing the entire show over and over again, until that evening when they’ve perfected every detail. “Depending on how close you are to opening, you can be there until one or two in the morning,” says senior actress Bailey Quade. “The hours are long and hard, emotionally and physically draining, but the end product is so worth it.”

Bailey Quade (courtesy photo)

With having to reserve this much time for school theatre, acting in community theatre at the same time can be extremely challenging, but that’s just what Bailey and fellow senior Richard Rigmaiden have been doing. “Generally school productions will rehearse from 3:45-6:00 pm and other community productions will run from 6:30-9:00pm,” says Richard. He points out that sometimes the rehearsal times can even overlap. “This is where communication between myself and the staff of both productions becomes key.”

According to Bailey, doing both has many plus sides. “You get to be around a whole new group of people, rather than the same people you do every show with.” Richard echoes the sentiment: “Community theatre allows you to meet other actors in the area who bring high experience and diversity to the cast.” Yet school theatre has its advantages as well, because he feels as though he can relate to the other performers on a more personal level.

With the recent production of Mary Poppins in the Black Hills Community Theater and the recent auditions of the upcoming school production The Great Gatsby, you may be interested to find out what it takes to become a part of these programs. For the most part, auditions are similar for both community and school theater. According to Richard, the start of any good audition requires “a good night’s sleep beforehand and an ounce of courage and confidence.”

Richard Rigmaiden also performed in the community theatre's production of Mary Poppins.
Richard Rigmaiden (courtesy photo)

Preparation is obviously also an important factor. For a straight play, those who audition could be asked to perform a ‘cold-read’ where you read the script without memorizing the lines, or they could be asked to arrive with a memorized monologue already prepared. For a musical, “an actor will usually prepare 32 bars of a Broadway show tune to sing at the audition,” says Richard.

As you can see, the hard work begins even before auditions and runs until the final curtain drops after the last show. “Drama is more than learning your lines and not running into furniture,” says Richard. “It requires extreme commitment and so much more. Overall though, the art of theater requires FUN.”

Clearly, it takes a lot to be a “Drama Kid.”