I like watching plays. For one reason, every action and every line on stage is done by an artist’s interpretation. A play may resemble a story in real life but its presentation will never be something close to real life. Theater follows some conventions that are not applied in reality. We don’t sing when we talk to people like those in musical theater. When we talk to ourselves, we don’t speak out loud, the way an actor delivers a monologue. Of course, concerts are also an artist’s invention that gets instant reaction from audience. But in theater, all elements on stage are intertwined. The panels on stage, the lights hanging, the actors moving on certain directions, the props, and the costume are not separate elements but all fall in a collaboration. And this leads me to compare life like theater.
Life is like theater. It is not a series of random events. It is an organized chaos. When a crowd quarrels on stage, they do not look in disorder. It involves some blocking and choreography. All these; fingers pointing, eyes squinting, walking from downstage to upstage are building a story. A story is a series of interrelated events.
Everything that is on stage is there for a reason. Actors are taught to enter the stage with a reason. Actors don’t show the audience that they enter on cue. Professional actors do not show movements because those are part of their choreography. They dance because they are happy. A prince enters the stage because he is going to meet his princess. Sometimes, an actor does not know how to execute what the director wants him to do. When he dances on stage, all the audience can see are dance routines. He has the moves but he does not have the mind of the choreographer. He does not know the reason he is speaking his lines or doing a movement. In occasions like this, the actor perhaps might be shortsighted on what the director wants to achieve on a scene. He does not know the story or perhaps he does not know how he can contribute to the story.
In life, we may be like this actor. We cannot do what is required. We question circumstances in our lives. We just have to trust our Director above, who sees the entirety of every scene in our lives, that everything we do will fall in the right place. For we are merely players as Shakespeare said. Sometimes, we are poor in wisdom that we cannot see the bigger picture and the bigger reason. We just do not have the mind of our Director.
Treat life as a stage. Do your part or do some parts. Have faith in your Director that all the things you do will work accordingly. Whether you are working on the sounds and adding lights in stage, singing in a chorus, God is weaving a beautiful story in you.
 (My professor Theater 100 in college said, “You don’t watch a ‘play’. You read a ’play’ and watch a ‘performance’. Perhaps for academic purposes, this is how they use the word ‘play’ but for some publications like guardian, the ‘play’ is the play we know”)
Last summer, I joined Trumpets Musical Theatre. It was a good learning experience. I do believe what we learned at the four corners of blue or green room can be applied not only on stage, but in all aspects of our lives. After all, life itself is the real stage. As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” I jotted some important pointers implicitly and explicitly given by our instructors Jenny Jamora, Red Concepcion, and Nelson. I know some of these are pretty obvious but we tend to forget these pointers once in a while such as memorizing lines and understanding the songs
Musical theatre is about heightened emotion
A song is also a monologue
Singing is a release
Big movements and big voice
Never forsake the clarity of words
When you are acting a character, you are not really acting but you are the character. That is to be truthful.
Know your character- what she eats, drinks, how she walks
There should be layers in acting
It does not make you less an actor, if you don’t sound or act like the original
When you do movements such as raising your hand, do it organically
Always have a high energy level
Have the same energy with your co-actors. Pass and share the energy you have
Before you enter the stage, you should be able to connect the previous scene or the previous circumstances in the play
You should be in character before you enter the stage
Artists are neurotic
Trust your co-actors
Listening skill is a must
Bring a note and pen during rehearsals. Take down notes
Understand your script and understand your song
Learn to see images with your voice
When you’re on stage, you have to be triple focused, as compared to rehearsals
When you’re on the stage and it’s not your time to speak or sing, do not stamp your feet. It shows weakness
When you’re on the stage and it’s not your time to speak or sing, sing in your mind what your co-actors are singing
Always do a warm-up before the show or rehearsal
Pray before the show or before the rehearsal
Do not change your costume without the director’s permission
Do not change your choreography without the director’s permission
Do not doubt yourself
Be a child
Take away your analytical mind
Do not judge yourself (even after the performance)
Your voice is unique. Nobody in this world has the same voice as yours.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Practice how you are going to wear your costumes on stage
When others are practicing their scenes, keep quite. Just watch them. You’ll learn a lot just by watching them.
Memorize your lines. No matter how short or how long they are
Study your notes (musical sheet)
When you practice musical notes, associate a note with a thought
Do not think how high or how low the notes are
Look for the composer of the musical sheet
Trust the composer
It’s an advantage to know how many beats are there in a quarter note, whole note…
Do not eat on theater
Learn to pronounce the letter ‘r’
Learn to do motorboat with your lips
Yes! Yes! Yes! Be positive
Do not talk at the backstage with or without your microphone
When you’re at the backstage, do not mind others’ costumes or props
Be familiar with stage directions: upstage left, downstage right…