Hey Miss Laura | FAQ

Hey, Miss Laura, what about…??
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS?? This page is designed to help YOU, the young actor in my troupe, understand some of the business details!  I will change up the question whenever someone asks me to and hopefully it will help you begin to grasp the complicated aspects of why certain decisions are made in our programs and productions.  Ask away…

QUESTION: Why do I have to pay tuition for a class or production?

A lot goes into running a business, especially a theater company. For each major production we need to rent out the performance space, purchase costumes, props, paint, set pieces…etc., rent sound equipment, rent lighting equipment, print programs, print tickets, heat the rehearsal space, buy or copy the scripts, purchase the rights for the production, pay any other staff members involved, provide food for a cast party, buy toilet paper, soap, and paper towels for the bathrooms, buy trash bags, buy water bottles and/ or snacks for cast and crew, hire a janitor for after the performance, pay the rent for our rehearsal space, buy cleaning products for the studio, hire a photographer, and many other expenses. Ticket sales could never even come close to covering all of those costs. The rights to certain shows can often be over $1000.00 and lighting/ sound equipment is almost always multiple thousands of dollars for each production. We want to be able to provide the best quality programs and productions for the lowest price possible. If you are surprised by our tuition, feel free to look at the rates of some of our competitors including Connecticut Family Theater, Hartford Stage, Madhatter’s Theater, and Oddfellows Playhouse. You will notice that our prices are significantly lower than all of our competitors’ similar programs.

QUESTION: What do I do if I want to audition, but I am not sure if I can commit to the rehearsal schedule?

Coming to the audition does not require any commitment! Auditioning is always a great learning experience, even if you don’t think you are going to actually participate in the production. You will always have the opportunity to refuse your part and choose to not participate after the cast list comes out. When you audition, you have nothing to lose, so why not?

QUESTION: Why is tech week mandatory?

Tech week is mandatory because it is extremely important. Tech week’s primary purpose is to allow the set crew, lighting crew, sound crew, and costume designers to practice. You might think that you already know your part and everything about the show, so it won’t matter if you don’t show up, but the tech crew needs to know which costumes still need to be finished or fixed, which microphones need to be on at what times, what props need to be ready when and where, and how crowded it will be back stage during scene changes.

In addition to that, tech week is usually the first time that actors get the chance to rehearse the entire show in order in the performance space, with props, set, costumes, microphones…etc. Those details can completely alter your ability to focus. Tech week isn’t just about reciting your lines, it is so that you can practice with all of these finalizing details. If you don’t come to tech week, the chance that you will forget a crucial prop, have trouble with a quick change, or miss a cue is much more likely. You may not think that you are very important during tech week, but one missing cast member can cause a whole number of problems for the cast and crew.

QUESTION: Why do some productions have age limits like 5-9, 9 and up, or 12 and up?

At Kidz Konnection, we try to give students of all ages a chance to perform and excel in their ability to be confident on stage. While our big productions that include all ages from 5 to 18 are a lot of fun, they can also be quite stressful for everyone involved. We split up our age groups for certain productions in order to keep the cast small and ensure that students have the ability to make friends. Additionally, we believe that theater should be an educational experience and we value the ability to study classic literature, but unfortunately some material is not suited for certain age levels.

QUESTION: Why does Kidz Konnection only offer Shakespeare during the summer?

Reading and performing classic literature is a year-round activity! However, at Kidz Konnection, our Summer Shakespeare is specifically for the summer for a few reasons. First of all, we have found that Shakespeare is best when performed outside. The Historical Society’s Old Brick Garden, is the perfect stage for everything from As You Like It to Macbeth because it is intimate so the audience can be right in front of the actors and feel like they are apart of the action (and Shakespeare is ALL about action!) Being outside also allows the audience to bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair and feel like they are at a picnic!

The other major reason we perform Shakespeare exclusively in the summer is because our Shakespeare program is made for older actors, specifically middle schoolers, high schoolers, and young adults. This age group is often busy with school, college, sports, homework, tests, and everything else that happens during the school year. The summer is the perfect time for these young actors to be able to relax, hang out with their friends, and actually commit to the rehearsal schedule.

The last reason we only perform Shakespeare in the summer is that there are a limited amount of Shakespearian plays (actually 37), but not every single one is worth performing with this age group. If we did more than one Shakespearian play a year, we would go through the most popular ones in no time.

QUESTION: Why do you have a starting age of 5 years old? Why can’t my 4-year old join the classes or productions? He/ she loves to act and I want to get them going as early as possible!

At Kidz Konnection, we love hearing that your young children are already showing enthusiasm for theater! Wanting to act, play pretend, make up stories, and use their imagination is a great thing for children at that age to be doing, and you should definitely encourage them to explore their creativity! Our classes and productions generally have a minimum age requirement of 5 years because that is the age when most children will be getting used to a structured environment. Prior to starting kindergarten, many young children have trouble sitting still and taking directions. This is completely normal! They are young and want to run around and explore the world. Unfortunately, we have limited time and space to hold our classes and rehearsals.

Many of our productions will have a cast of over 80 students and there is a lot of down time, especially for the younger children who are only in a few scenes. This can be difficult for 3 and 4 year olds to handle. Tech week rehearsals are long, tedious, and run late. The weekend of the show is strenuous for children of every age, but close to impossible for most children under 5 because our evening shows will often end at 10:00pm and then by the time the child is out of their costume and ready to go home it is probably around 10:45 or 11:00 at night! That’s really late for a child who’s bedtime is probably 7 or 8pm. If you want to sign your child up for a class, those are less intense, but we still suggest children to be 5 or over.

Our classes foster a welcoming and comfortable environment in which children can make up their own plays, learn to use their imagination in constructive ways, and get to play theater games and make new friends. We teach the early basics of projection, focus, teamwork, and improvisation skills. While all of these things would be beneficial to your 3 or 4 year old, there are a few obstacles that we often encounter with those ages.

First of all, the floor of the studio is cement, not wood or plastic or rubber, but HARD cement. That can hurt if a child falls on it, which is why we have a no running policy. But most 3 and 4 year olds won’t want to be told they can’t run or climb or move freely. This poses a large risk to a child who still has a lot of growing to do. Second of all, all of our facilities and furniture (chairs, toilets, sinks… etc.) are made for adults. It might be hard for a 4 year old to use an adult toilet or sink without help and none of our staff or volunteers are trained day care workers. They are not hired to take a kid to the bathroom every 5 minutes and help them flush the toilet. This also leads me to my next point. While I’m sure you’re child is toilet trained, it is not completely out of the question for an accident to happen every once in a while. Pre-school teachers and day care workers deal with these situations all the time, but at Kidz Konnection, we may not be able to handle a situation where a child soiled or spilled on him or her self.

Many children at this age are also not well adjusted to being away from their parents. If your child goes straight into tantrum mode after you leave the studio, we of course will do our best to console them, but sometimes no amount of consolation will work. Remember that your child is only 4. They have a lot of time left to become an amazing actor or actress, so waiting one more season, or even one more year to enroll them in theater classes isn’t the end of the world! The time will fly by and they will be 5 years old and ready to join before you know it!

If you have read this entire section and are thinking, “Yeah, but my child is different! He or she is mature and doesn’t do any of those things!” Then feel free to contact us and explain why your child will be able to handle a class meant for 5+. And of course, if your child is already in kindergarten and going to school full time, just young for their grade, then we will probably allow them to join the program.

QUESTION: Why can’t we do every show on the Town Hall Stage?

Of course, a larger venue always seems like a better place to perform, but this isn’t always the case. The Town Hall can be very expensive to perform at and when we are doing a smaller show, we might not have enough money from that show to cover the cost. However, money isn’t the only reason. With shows that feature a smaller cast, with younger actors, or shows that won’t have a huge audience, performing at places like the United Methodist Church allow us to have a more intimate setting. Young actors can often be intimidated by the enormous Town Hall Auditorium. The big stage will make them look even smaller than they are. The auditorium is huge so it requires a lot of projecting to fill the space and get every audience member to hear you. The lights can be hot and blinding. These are many of the reasons that we use the church for smaller shows. For our Summer Shakespeare we perform at the Historic Society’s Garden behind the Old Brick. This is because many Shakespearian plays are meant to be performed outside and this creates a “Shakespeare in the Park” type feeling, similar to going to New York City to see a Shakespearian production performed in Central Park. So, while many of our larger shows will be performed at the Town Hall, we have lots of different performance spaces available to us that will all offer a different experience.

QUESTION:  Why does the rehearsal schedule often change from week to week?

It is always hard to explain to new families to the theater the difference between a sport and theater.  A sport is often contained in weekly practice sessions where the same strategies and skills are developed each and every week.  A play is ambiguous.  Scenes move and shift, different actors are required for different scenes and a director can never predict which scenes will require more work than others based on the actors strengths and or the blocking required for the scene.  Most Directors will require a complete commitment to the entire production process, even if that means the actor is just sitting in the theater for hours without ever getting any stage time.  I have always tried to accommodate the busy lives of the average family and work tirelessly to build schedules that will allow children the most stage time, least “sitting” time when in the studio.  Thus, the best way to do this is provide a flexible week by week schedule.  It may be difficult for families at first to grasp the concept but once everyone sees that it is in the best interest of each individual child’s needs, most families warm up to the flexible week to week schedule.

QUESTION: Why do some kids always seem to get the leads every time they audition for something?

This is a question often asked and truth be told, the answer can seem hard to understand for the budding actor.  Just like in sports, some people have a natural, or “God-given” talent to acting.  This is especially apparent to a director when kids audition.  Some kids read easily and project their voices without being prompted and most importantly, are able to “take on the character” being read with confidence and commitment.  As hard as it feels, as embarrassed as you might be, or nervous, the very best thing you can do when you walk into an audition is to “go for broke!”  Play up your best character possible with your heart and soul.  If the character is a bumbling fool, don’t be afraid to be the bumbling fool.  The youth who does this shines and the director cannot ignore the talent!  Remember, shows need audiences and audiences won’t come see a show full of actors who are afraid to show their emotions, whether they are to be scared, or silly, or awkward, or angry.  YOU MUST THROW YOURSELF FULLY INTO YOUR PERFORMANCE.  I always tell students, “What makes you look foolish is not that it is foolish what I ask you to do, but that you refuse to do what I ask you.  The minute you pull out the crazy personality required of the character, you no longer look foolish, you look like an ACTOR!”  That’s it.

All this said, I will agree that sometimes some actors are favored by their directors.  I believe this to be a dangerous trend and I try very hard to balance out my casts every show to allow students who may not be the very best in an audition but I feel would be able to find their best during the rehearsal process.  For some, a crack in the door is all that is needed to open a brand new world to someone.  Still, we want to have audiences.  We want to be considered a quality theater company, right?  So, ultimately, you should heed my best advice, and do not be afraid to throw everything you’ve got into every audition.  BREAK A LEG!

For a more in depth discussion on the casting process visit our blog where we explore a variety of topics including how to land a lead.

QUESTION:  Why can’t Miss Laura do the musical Wicked?

I would love to do any musical or play you want.  I will spend my career working hard to make sure you get to perform in every show you ever dreamed of.  Here’s why Wicked presents a specific challenge:

Every show we do requires the purchasing of something we call “The Rights.”  First and foremost, Wicked is currently not available for the purchase of those rights to perform in an amateur company or school.  So what are the rights to a show?  The rights are usually owned by a specific company or organization that has purchased these rights from the author with a percentage returned back to the author for having their work used.  In other words, just like you are all aware now: when it comes to songs you download from the internet, you can’t just TAKE someone else’s work.  Someone spent a lot of time writing, developing and turning it into a great work to be enjoyed.  Taking it without consent or payment would be like walking into Target or Walmart and taking a CD or DVD off the shelf and going home without paying for it.  You just wouldn’t do that, right?  Because its stealing.  We understand stealing when its an actual object but sometimes its hard to understand that the same is true for all that material written out there that is now available just by turning on your computer.  We call it “Intellectual Property” and it is work that was thought up by someone else and it rightfully belongs to them.

Since we have to pay for the rights to our shows, we have to make sure our shows are within our budget. Shows currently running On Broadway are for the most part, off-limits.  I saw in the newspaper a local school doing RENT.  I was so excited to see that and then I remembered, “Oh yea, I think RENT has gone dark on Broadway.  That’s why a high school can do it now.”  Still, the rights to a professional musical like RENT are VERY EXPENSIVE.  Often more than $1,000.00.

Because we are mostly made up of youth under the age of 15 we are better equipped to handle what is called a “Junior Musical.”  I recommend that my young and eager performers look on-line and search Junior Musicals and see what is available.  These are musicals written specifically for a younger actor.  They are often the Musical you know and love in a mini-version.  These are far more affordable to our young though ambitious theater company.  Find those and vote on one of those.

Start Looking.

Miss Laura