Rituals Help Actors Prepare

Diction is done with the tip of the tongue and the teeth.Student actors at Marshfield participate in different pre-acting rituals before their performances, including vocal exercises that result in the use of diction and alliteration.
Some rituals are used to make energy levels in the room higher, such as an “energy pass.” Students stand in a circle and use different noises and motions to pass energy around to one another. According to sophomore Shyanne Bolton, each student is able to come up with a unique pose.
“We sometimes do them before rehearsal and always before a show,” Bolton said. “In mid-rehearsal, if everyone is down we’ll do a quick energy pass to get people’s energy back up.”
Senior Sierra Banks said she has a few pre-acting rituals of her own. She dances with her sister backstage before the show begins. She also places a kind note in each cast member’s station at some point during the show’s weekend.
“Before every show I’ll write a note telling someone in the cast how much I appreciate them,” Banks said. “I do it for everybody by the end of the play.”
According to Bolton, vocal warm ups are also used to help the students better prepare themselves for their performances. Tongue twisters benefit the actors in pronouncing their words clearly to the audience.
Both Banks and Bolton said theatre teacher Allison Bassett has a pre-acting ritual for the whole cast. Bolton said it is a sort of meditation process that helps all of the actors get into character before the show begins. It is a mental journey that takes the students through a mirror and figuratively places them in the shoes of the character they are portraying.
Bolton said she believes the rituals are helpful.
“When you push through that mirror, you become your character,” Bolton said. “It really, really helps.”
Bassett said the sort of pre-acting rituals done before a show depend on many factors.
“It depends on who you are and what you’ve studied and how superstitious you are, or if you’re just doing warm ups,” said Bassett.
She said there are different categories for pre-acting rituals. They are physical, vocal and mental.
“In theatre, 100 percent, people are always talking about how your body is your instrument so they’ll warm it up physically and vocally,” said Bassett.
Vocal warm ups include tongue twisters and any other exercises that stretch the mouth or tongue.
Physical warm ups are things like stretches. Bassett said she has noticed routines with physical warm ups, including students adding a character’s tick to their body.
“It is kind of like the meditation in a way where you’re repeating, using repetition to help yourself feel something,” Bassett said.
Banks said she finds the rituals helpful.
“I feel like when I do them, I’m more ready to perform,” Banks said. “I’ve done performances where I haven’t done my rituals beforehand; and I just didn’t feel as ready or good about the performance afterwards.”