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Backstage Workshops

Crane River Theater was created to serve the state of Nebraska and surrounding areas as a professional theater production company providing a home for the presentation, education and promotion of the arts.  We provide the unique quality of using professionals from across the country and mixing them with area artists to create exciting and innovative productions.  We have already had the honor of working with actors, directors and designers from twenty-eight states, and are excited to share their talents with all of Nebraska.

Backstage with Crane River Theater is an educational opportunity created to provide opportunities for high school students across the state to receive a backstage look at a professional production and take part in a series of theatrical workshops.  The participating production for 2017 will be Hairspray.  Available workshops will range from acting, musical theater and dance to video production and stage combat.  We also offer workshops that focus on the technical side of theater which will include make up for the actor, directing and the ultimate design workshop.  It is sure to be an invaluable experience for any student with an interest in the arts.


Friday, August 4, 2017

4:00pm Meet and Greet with Crane River Theater Company at the Merryman Performing Arts Center
4:30pm Select company members share their introductory auditions as we take a look inside the casting process of Crane River Theater
5:00pm Break
7:00pm Attend Hairspray
9:30pm Post Show Pizza Party with the Cast and Crew

Saturday, August 5, 2017

8:30am Welcoming atMerryman Performing Arts Center
9:00am Workshop Session 1 and Scholarship Auditions
10:30am Workshop Session 2
12:00pm Lunch (Provided)
12:30pm Workshop Session 3
2:00pm Workshop Session 4
3:30pm Awards, Scholarship Announcements and Backstage Send Off


Creating the Character
Taught by Patsy Koch Johns, Actress and Theater Director

Explore the magic of theater through acting. This popular workshop will give participants a chance to get on their feet and develop characters. You will use interactive techniques to explore goals, obstacles and tactics as they apply to the world of characterization.

Combat for the Stage
Taught by Harris Smith, Associate Professor of Acting at UNL

Want to know the basics of how to make a fight look real on stage? Students will learn how to successfully execute an unarmed fight with slaps, punches, kicks and more. Gain knowledge of how to trust your partner and fight safely, while incorporating motivation and characterization. Time permitting, students will also be introduced into basic sword fighting skills.

Dance Break
Taught by Dayna DeFilippis, Professor and Choreographer at UNK

This high-energy workshop will explore movement for musical theater, basic dance technique, sequencing and style. Participants will be led through an introductory warm up and then learn original choreography to an excerpt from the revolutionary new musical Hamilton. Previous dance training is not required.

Accents and Dialects
Taught by the Actors of Crane River Theater

Jump on a flight around the world as we explore the entertaining world of accents. Through the use of the international phonetic alphabet, participants will learn the basic tricks of the trade to create convincing British and Southern dialects. You will even have a chance to bring these characters to life with comedic scenes incorporating the accents.

Finding the Action
Taught by Steve Barth, Artistic Director of Crane River Theater

What gives life to a play is action. It’s the action which gives life to the words. Without the action, a play is no more than a story we can read from a book. In this workshop we will find the action that motivates relationships, enriches dialogue and informs the audience of what’s at stake. 

Lights, Camera, Action!
Taught by Matt Bross, Filmmaker and Videographer

As dozens of crew members whirl about on the set of a film, lights shine into the actor’s eyes, boom mics float overhead, and “Action!” is finally called, the actor is still expected to give a believable and moving performance for the camera. In this workshop students will learn the basics of film acting: creating performances based upon shot size and angle, hitting marks, emotional and physical continuity, and strength and imagination in acting choices.

Improv Comedy
Taught by the Actors of Crane River Theater

Who doesn’t love to laugh? In this workshop, we will focus on the core skills of improv comedy in a fun and sociable way. You’ll learn a number of games you can play just about anywhere as you develop scenes and create characters within seconds. We will spontaneously create theater through listening rather than thinking, from allowing rather than forcing, and from being fully present in the moment.

The Physical Actor
Taught by Joel Egger, Professional Actor and Director

Explore the connections between motion and emotion set to music, while applying fundamental concepts of physicalizing a character. This workshop will allow young performers to find their sense of “neutral” and discover how stillness is the foundation of truthful interaction on stage. 

Musical Masterclass
Taught by Brian Botsford, Musical Director of Crane River Theater

An advanced exploration of the musical theater voice and how to knowledgeably approach the music and lyrics of any song both as an actor and musician. Emphasis will be placed on producing a healthy sound with dynamics that have the emotional capability to move audiences. It is requested that every participant bring a prepared musical selection that will be worked during the session. Sessions will be limited as to allow all participants ample time to work with the panel.

There Will Be Blood
Taught by Brenna Leigh, Make-Up Designer

This workshop is dedicated to the illusion of special effects as created by makeup for the stage. We will focus on the proper use and application of facial prosthetics, latex, and other make-up essentials necessary to create awesome facial creations. Step-by-step instructions will guide you toward developing your own design. An emphasis on the proper way to apply and remove make-up will be part of this workshop.

The Ultimate Design Workshop
Taught by the Designers of Crane River Theater

Anyone with an interest in designing for the theater will benefit from this workshop. Our team of professional designers will share with participants the essential elements of scenic, lighting and costume design. They will walk you through a step by step process of how to draft the set for your next production, light the stage in a way that conveys atmosphere and costume your actors in a way that compliments the overall vision of the show.

Playwriting for the Actor
Taught by Janice Fronczak, Acting and Playwriting Professor at UNK

Find the playwright within yourself in this interactive workshop. Participants will write a one-minute monologue using a specialized worksheet to assist in the creative process. You will create images that lend themselves to reveal a hidden character just waiting to come alive. At the end of the workshop, learn how to make bold choices to act another’s original monologue.

To download a printable version of the Backstage Workshop Itinerary, click HERE.