Etiquette for Students in the BFA Musical Theatre Program

Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance Acting Area Company Rules and Etiquette

  • Being a professional means there are no excuses for lateness to a rehearsal or performance.  
  • Arrive at rehearsal fifteen minutes before your call time so you are ready to begin at the designated time. These extra minutes will allow more time for warm-up, building ensemble, or getting you in the right frame of mind. If lateness is truly unavoidable, you must call your stage manager and let him or her know your expected arrival time.
Read What You Sign
  • Even though Equity’s major benefits are our negotiated contracts, business representatives, and member services, read everything you are asked to sign, even from Equity.
  • Please be prepared before you come to the first rehearsal, i.e. make sure you have done your homework before the first rehearsal, be familiar with your script and music, and meet the expectations set forth by the director. 
  • For musicals, cast members are expected to bring an audio recording device to all rehearsals.
  • For many, this is the most exciting time of being in a show. Take time to explore your character (why do you cross on that line?), fine-tune stage business, or justify your choreography. Even if you can’t wait to get in front of an audience, let those actors who love it, relish it.
  • Always bring your planner, paper, a pencil, and your script to every rehearsal.
  • From one rehearsal to the next you are responsible for acknowledging, studying, and applying your notes (line, acting, tech, etc.).
  • Wear shoes, clothing, and hair styles appropriate to the individual rehearsal.
  • Any issues and/or conflicts which may arise during the rehearsal process and run of the show should be filtered through the SM.
  • Blocking and character notes are the actor’s responsibility. The SM will make blocking notes for reference purposes only.
  • Hold onto your scripts and put your name in them.
Cell Phones
  • Turn them off when entering a rehearsal or performance space. There are appropriate times to use them, so hang up!
  • Getting Them: Always be gracious, even if you disagree. Say, “Thank you.” after the director gives you the note, or, “May we speak about this later?” if you don’t understand or disagree. Find time for you and the director to solve issues that affect you or your character only.
  • Notes are expected to be written down and reviewed before the next rehearsal.
  • Giving Them: NEVER, never give another actor notes and never allow yourself to receive notes from another actor. A response could be, “Thanks for your help, but I think it’s best we do this kind of thing through the stage manager or director.” There is no room for flexibility here. Wouldn’t you resent it?
  • Costume fittings are tricky. Let the designer know your concerns, but avoid doing his or her job.
  • Personal hygiene is important for the fittings, and you should be clean & wear proper undergarments.
  • Actors are responsible for returning their own costumes to the appropriate hanger/shelf/ditty bag at the conclusion of all rehearsals and performances.
  • All repairs, stains, or problems needing attention are to be written nightly on a repair sheet provided by the costume department.
  • No part of the costume is to be taken off theatre premises without the Costume Shop Supervisor’s approval.
  • Absolutely no eating, drinking, chewing gum, or smoking in costume.  Water is the only exception to this rule.
  • Please change into street clothes, hang up your costume, and return your mics before greeting the audience.
  • Wear your costume as prescribed for every performance. You are not allowed to make changes to your costume.
  • Do not cut or change the color of your hair after you have been cast without the permission of the director and costume designer.
  • Props are to be handled with care and only by the TD, SM, prop crew, and the actor using them.
  • Props are to be returned to the props table immediately after use unless otherwise designated by the prop master.
  • Please do not consume edible props unless you have been directed to consume them.
  • Take the initiative to communicate dietary restrictions before or early in the rehearsal process
  • All lost, damaged, or broken props should be brought to the attention of the SM or prop master immediately.
  • Never play with a prop and always check your props before each show and rehearsal.
  • You know its wrong. We heard you say it. Just don’t do it!
  • As you learned in the last rule, sometimes keeping your mouth shut is a good thing. We will expand on that theme—keep the noise down when you are backstage. Avoid all talking and/or whispering; some theatres actually DO have good acoustics. Keep your voice and laughter down even when in the dressing room.
Tech Rehearsals
  • This is the only time the designers get to fine-tune their work with you there. So, pay attention. Don’t disrupt their rehearsal and stay close to the stage, because they’re always going to go back a few scenes when they resume.
Backstage Drama
  • Just because we play dramatic characters onstage does not mean we must portray them off.
Sound Check
  • Please be quite during the sound check. During sound check sing a portion of the show at the energy level appropriate for the performance.  This is a time for the music and sound designer, if you goof off you won’t sound pretty.
  • Remember that your mic may be on after you leave the stage. (All the way to the dressing room and beyond)
Run of the Show
  • You need to get permission before you leave town during the rehearsals and run of a show.
  • The stage manager may set any reasonable arrival time for any actor in any show.
Dressing Room Behavior
  • No singing in the dressing room after half hour.
  • Be quiet in the dressing room. Music should only be played through ear buds or headphones.
  • Please be careful of surfing the Internet, reading, or any activity that distracts you from doing your job.
  • Please be courteous and conscientious of the other cast members’ processes.
  • Directors will not be in the dressing room after half hour, and no notes are to be given after half hour.
  • There are sick days built into many contracts; use them when you NEED to.
Ad Libs and Changes to the Script and Blocking
  • Do not ad lib unless directed by the director. Never alter lines unless cuts have been made by the playwright or director.
  • Don’t change blocking after opening night.
Opening Night
  • Congratulations! Have fun at the party, but remember, you have a show tomorrow night.
Marking a Performance
  • The lone audience member today paid the same ticket price as the full house that loved your performance last night. You have a responsibility to all involved to perform the show as rehearsed and to do your best.
Maintaining a Performance
  • You can look at a long run either as a chore or the world’s best acting class. You get to apply your craft and test your choices in front of an audience (“Why did I get that laugh last night and not tonight?”). Quit complaining and stay fresh. There are worse things than having a job.

The most obvious and the most abused. We appeal only to the basest of reasons for having respect (Remember, nothing spreads faster than your reputation):

  • For Staff - They can hire you again
  • For Crew - They can hurt you
  • For Directors - They can make your life miserable
  • For Designers - They can make you look stupid
  • For Actors’ Equity - They can upstage you
  • For Yourself - That means value your contribution to the show by following the above guidelines and taking care of yourself when rehearsing and performing. Keep healthy throughout the run.
  • For Fellow Cast Members: They are you support system on and off stage
  • For Your Costumes, Sound Equipment, Set, and Instruments ECT…:  Don’t touch anything that is not yours and respect anything and everything around you.

 ** Portions of this document were adapted from Actors Equity Association, Ithaca College and Ashland University.