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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 2018 will be Annie.  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, costume design and scene painting techniques.  It is sure to be an invaluable experience for any student with an interest in the arts.


Friday, August 3, 2018

3:30pm Check In at the Merryman Performing Arts Center
4:00pm “Why Theater?” – Keynote Speaker
4:20pm Meet and Greet with Crane River Theater Company Members
4:40pm Select cast members share their auditions as we take a look inside the casting process of Crane River Theater
5:00pm Dinner Break
7:00pm Attend Annie
9:30pm Post Show Pizza Party with the Cast and Crew

Saturday, August 4, 2018

8:30am Welcoming to the Backstage Workshops
9:00am Workshop Session 1 and Scholarship Auditions
10:30am Workshop Session 2
12:00pm Lunch (Provided)
1:00pm Workshop Session 3
2:30pm Workshop Session 4
4:00pm Scholarship Announcements and Backstage Send Off


Creating the Character
Taught by Bill Grennan, Teaching Artist at Omaha Performing Arts

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, Director of the Professional Actor Training Program 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 Vijay Olander, Professional Dancer and Choreographer

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 hip-hop choreography to excerpts from Broadway’s most popular shows. Previous dance training is not required.

Film and Commercial Acting
Taught by Tim Hornor, Los Angeles based Actor

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 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 both for commercial and film.

Acting Out
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.

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.

The Playwright
Taught by Becky Boesen, Professional Playwright and Lyricist

Find the playwright within yourself in this interactive workshop. Participants will explore the creative process and broaden their skills in storytelling. Bring forth your unique voice with a series of exercises that will reveal a roadmap to the wonders and revelations of the unconscious mind.

Improv Comedy
Taught by Tim Hornor, Los Angeles based Actor

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 that will help 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.

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.

Broadway Bound
Taught by the Actors 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. Participants are encouraged to bring a prepared song to be workshopped during the session.

Taught by Steve Barth, Artistic Director of Crane River Theater

It all begins with the audition! Participants will be taken through the basics of any audition process, whether it be for your school musical, college scholarships, or professional opportunities. We will go step by step on how to choose material that showcases your strengths, perform your selections with confidence and believability, and ultimately land the part.

No Fear Shakespeare
Taught by the Becky Boesen, Artistic Director of Flatwater Shakespeare

Unlock the magic of Shakespeare as you discover the meaning and power of speaking the text out loud. Participants will overcome their fears and intimidation and take ownership of Shakespeare’s words. Voice and movement guidance will allow you to sink your teeth into these rich characters while having fun at the same time.

Bruises and Wounds
Taught by the Designers of Crane River Theater

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 realistic bruises and wounds. 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.

Costume Design
Taught by the Designers of Crane River Theater

Have you ever had a costume idea that you wanted to make a reality? This workshop will show you the process of developing your concept through character analysis and research, selecting the right fabric and pattern, and eventually creating a drawing of your costume. Designers will discuss how to become inspired by costumes of the past and how the modern designers pull from fantasy to create this beautiful artform.

Scene Painting Techniques
Taught by the Designers of Crane River Theater

Bring your set to life with a touch of paint. Designers will lead students through a workshop that explores the basics of scenic painting. A step-by-step process will provide techniques on how to create a wood floor, brick wall, concrete surface and various other scenic elements commonly found in theatrical productions.

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