Monthly Archives: September 2017

Community Collaboration

Creative Collaboration

by Colleen Cook

One of my favorite elements of working with the Renaissance has been the amount of people, organizations, and businesses I’ve been connected with as a result of this work. I’ve heard people in Mansfield say that collaboration doesn’t work here, and I admit that sometimes people don’t play well together, but more often than not I’ve been able to witness Mansfield at its very best when creative collaboration is allowed to happen. Each person, each organization, brings its best to the table and the results are exponentially more than if the collaboration hadn’t existed.

A few examples of these creative collaborations come to mind right away. In 2015, the Renaissance partnered with Little Buckeye Children’s Museum to address a problem at the museum that I had witnessed first-hand with my children.  The stage exhibit at the museum had a hard, wooden painted panel functioning as a curtain. More than a few parents slammed their heads against it as they exited the stage, and the exhibit was underutilized because it was missing some of the critical elements that make a theatre so magical.

Our staff and board got involved and within a few months, we built a new theatre exhibit, “The Little Ren” with a functional curtain, a video monitor, a tech booth, actual theatre seating, a box office window, and a concessions window. Opening this space for our young families gave us a place in the community outside of our own building to foster relationships early on with our region’s youngest arts lovers, and a chance to showcase the many careers in the arts available to our area youth. Today, it remains one of the most popular exhibits in the museum!

Another creative collaboration has been with Richland Source, our area’s online news organization. One of the core values of Richland Source is to proportionally cover the great things happening in Richland County alongside the negative stories, and their unique business model affords them that opportunity. Their team, in particular reporter Brittany Schock, has regularly brainstormed with us ways to think outside the box and partner creatively on projects that benefit the community through playing on the strengths of our two organizations.

This partnership has included creative journalistic pieces like live interviews broadcast on Facebook, a documentary following a young performer from auditions through to performance, and most recently the creation of a new journalistic tool, the Listening Post. A listening post is a microphone stand attached to a digital recorder partnered with a question for individuals to answer without the intimidation that might go along with a news interview.

Richland Source approached the Renaissance to help build this post, since the Renaissance’s brilliant tech team regularly solves carpentry and audio challenges such as this in show production, they were able to create a sleek and functional design in time to launch it at the Community Baby Shower hosted by Richland Source on September 9th. On its inaugural use, the Listening Post received 110 interviews from expectant and experienced moms.

(Warning: If you’re anything like me, this will probably make you cry.)

Here at the Renaissance, we’re particularly excited to place the Listening Post in our lobby for certain events to give our audience voice in a different way than we ever have before, and we’re equally excited to see how it will be used throughout the community by Richland Source and other area businesses.

We could talk about other creative collaborations endlessly, because we’re better when we’re working together. For now, though, stay tuned for some other exciting collaborations coming soon.

 

Maddie Beer Sister Act - Photo by Jeff Sprang

Pro-Tips for Auditioning for Theatre

by Colleen Cook

At the Renaissance, we frequently have auditions running for upcoming productions. The audition is a critical moment for any performer, because it’s your chance to show your best self and potentially secure the part of your dreams. For our casting teams, auditions are challenging because so many talented individuals show up and perform well, and many factors (age, look, personality, etc.) all go into the final casting decision.

If you’re curious what auditions are upcoming, we keep all of our audition information current on our website, and we also post our cast lists there as well; we also try to keep our social media audience informed on our Facebook page. Each type of production has a slightly different process for auditioning: some register for specific time slots and specify what they’d like to hear and see, others offer an open process where there is more flexibility. When in doubt, follow directions and be flexible in the moment!

Our artistic team has offered up some pro-tips for having a better audition. Here are our top tips, and a few things to avoid:

Tips:

“Be prepared, flexible, respectful, focused and friendly. The auditors take notice of you the second you walk into the room, so be self-assured but not arrogant. Roll with the punches and do what is ask of you to the best of your ability without apologizing or making excuses. Producers and casting agents know that big egos cause big problems. Act like a professional, don’t tell them you’re a professional.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Be pleasant throughout the audition process. We watch you, and try to engage with you, from the moment we first meet you. If we sense a challenging attitude, it may not matter how well you audition. As directors, we need to know that you are willing to work WITH us; and that we can successfully communicate with you.” – Dauphne Maloney

 

“When approaching an audition, and while in the audition process, fully commit to everything you’re asked to do!  If you’re asked to read for a role that doesn’t interest you, do it anyway. Still apply yourself; use your training, skills, and experience to show us the best of what you’ve got (don’t try to “throw,” or sway an audition by downplaying your ability to audition well in ANY role.)” – Dauphne Maloney

 

“If it’s a musical audition, have several varying selections prepared. The auditors may not like your choice and may want to hear something different. Have your music clearly marked and in a three ring binder. No accordion/taped-together mess that flows over both ends of the piano. No loose sheets. If your music is a Xerox copy, make sure the music is printed on both sides, so there are less page turns. Clearly mark where you’re beginning and ending, taking liberties with tempo, pauses, ritards, etc. If there is a coda or you’re going back to a certain part of the music, print that sheet out again so your accompanist doesn’t have to flip through the pages to find the right spot.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Don’t audition unless you’re willing to accept any role.” – Lori Turner

 

“Come in the room and make us believe that whatever you do is what you meant to do.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“Be familiar with the show and the composer, and select audition material that is aligned with that show/role/composer’s style.” – Lori Turner

 

“Be clear, concise and friendly to the pianist – even if they mangle the accompaniment to your song. Soldier on as best you can. The auditors know it’s not your fault, you don’t need to point it out.” – Michael Thomas

 

 

Pet Peeves/Things to Avoid:

 

“Worst for me is when someone comes in the room and is apologetic or making excuses for their performance.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“Don’t bombard the auditors with excuses – such as: you’ve recently had a bad cold, you’re nervous, you haven’t had time to adequately prepare, etc.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Starting off your audition by telling me the reason you may not sing your best that day.” – Lori Turner

 

…sensing a theme here???

 

“When someone is unprepared or underprepared, without having music explicitly marked for the accompanist, and copping an attitude when things don’t go perfectly.” – Kelly Knowlton

 

“When a performer auditions with the wrong style of music for the show they’re auditioning for.” – Lori Turner

 

“Don’t overstay your welcome or try to be hilarious.” – Michael Thomas

 

“Children choosing to sing songs which are inappropriate for their playable age; for example: “I Dreamed a Dream, ” from Les Miserables–sung by a seven-year-old. A more appropriate choice for/from that show would be “Castle on a Cloud.” – Dauphne Maloney

Ideas for Empty Nesters Renaissance

Empty Nesting? Three Activities to Occupy Your Free Time

by Colleen Cook

Last week, our President and CEO Mike Miller took his youngest daughter to move into college for the first time. As a mother of tiny people (my kids are under 4 years old), that moment seems very far off, and yet I’m alarmed at how quickly it comes. When I started at the Renaissance, Mike’s daughter Jessica was a middle school student, so it hardly seems possible enough time has passed for her to move into her college dorm.

Perhaps you’re in the same boat as the Millers, empty nesting for the first time with a remarkably open calendar for the first time in two decades. No longer are you tied to the local school sports and music calendar – the band concerts, the soccer games, and carting your people to countless practices and events is all in the rearview mirror. While that’s undoubtedly met with mixed emotions (I can only imagine the wreck I will be as we pull away from our kiddos for the first time, good heavens), it can be invigorating to do what you want to do in your free time for the first time since you brought these people into the world.

Here are our suggestions on three new things to put into your calendar that you probably weren’t doing during the high school years:

1. Get more involved in the community.

How many fun, purposeful, social, philanthropic, and community-oriented events have you said no to in the past decade because you needed to keep your evenings open (or they were already booked up by family things)? Now’s the time to go to the Business After Hours, the Coffee Talks, the Book Readings, the lectures, the local meet-ups. These first years of being a parent of college students is the perfect opportunity to make some new friends, volunteer, and rediscover your interests and your purpose. Join a book club or an affinity group (like our new Symphony Chug, symphonic music meet-up), volunteer at a local non-profit, or be a part of a committee working to make an impact on the community – now’s your moment!

2. Go on dates.

Whether you’re happily married or happily single, you’re free again to go out and enjoy the nightlife in your town. Whether you’re coming to a show or a concert at the Renaissance, or taking advantage of the Wine and Ale Trail, or simply just spending an evening downtown, your time is yours again and you’re free to stay out late with no worries about getting everyone up and out the door in the morning.

3. Take up a new hobby.

Become a master gardener, learn to knit, take an art class, or learn to use that DSLR you bought and still shoot on automatic mode. Refining your skills not only expands your world, it’s a great way to make some new friends (that aren’t only parents of your children’s friends) and explore parts of yourself that have been lying dormant for years.