The “en-trance”: There are many different ways to get to the center of the stage. One way is to have the curtains open and you are revealed. Another is to open by walking through the audience onto the stage. Yet another is to walk onstage from the wing. All have their advantages.
The curtain reveal: Many magicians use this opening reveal, but it puts you at the mercy of the “curtain puller” and the timing is beyond your control. Especially for club dates, make sure you rehearse this move at least 3 times. There are many ways to do this reveal. Music, curtain, lights. For my show, I start in a blackout with the curtains shut. My assistant gives the cue to the stage hand that is calling the curtain. The first thing is the music, second the curtain opens onto the black stage, and the third is the light cue that hits me center stage. If all of these things are well rehearsed it looks great. Many times I have seen this reveal get out of control leaving the magician center stage with no music, back to the waiting crowd, only to have to tun around and yell “MUSIC” from the stage. To avoid this, I have a few seconds of music at the top of my tape; this will assure me that even before I get onstage I will be performing to the correct music. I have also seen the curtain open and the wrong music play the magi on only to stop the show and start over, which is also a nightmare!
The correct procedure of events is this: First, the master of ceremonies introduces the act. Then the music: the short overture plays, giving you time to make necessary sound level adjustments. Then, the curtain opens in the blackout on a dark stage or a pre-lit stage. Then, on a GIVEN note of music or rehearsed cue, (in my case I use “beats” in the music) the lights fade up on the performer.
Of course, if you perform in front of the main curtain, or “in one,” as it is called, you can walk out of the wings during the music play-on and take center stage.
Entering from stage right will create a feeling of warmth; entering from stage left will create a feeling of distance or sinister quality. Villains frequently enter from the left. This is due to the fact that we read from left to right. (By the way, these directions are reversed on stage, therefore, audience left and stage right are the same thing.) For anyone performing at a theater, it would be helpful to familiarze yourself with basic stage tems. Some of the terms can be quite confusing to the unitiated. Following is a piece of classic stagehand theater folklore often posted in backstage dressing rooms….
In is down, down is front;
Out is up, up is back;
Off is out, on is in;
and of course –
Right is left, and left is right.
A drop shouldn’t
A block and fall does neither.
A prop doesn’t
A cove has no water.
Tripping is OKAY;
A running crew rarely gets anywhere;
A purchase line will buy you nothing;
A trap will not catch anything
A gridiron has nothing to do with football.
Strike is work (in fact, a lot of work)
A green room, thank God, usually isn’t.
Now that you’re fully versed in Theatrical Terms –
“Break a Leg….”
But not really!
Excerpted from Pack Small, Play Big.