As we are approaching the kick-off of our 2016 season, and welcoming new volunteers, I thought it would be fun to hear from one of our veteran volunteers- Tylee Nistad! Tylee has been involved at the Arts Center for over ten years and has graciously offered her time at many different shows and events over the last decade.

Read what Tylee has to say about her time at the Arts Center, and why she encourages everyone to get involved, no matter their age or skill set!

Brittany: Hello, Ty! Tell us a little about yourself! Do you have a background in theatre?

Tylee: I am adopted from China, but Cannon County has been my home since I can remember. I grew up kind of isolated on a farm, so I had a lot of imaginary friends and just generally talked to myself a lot. I would put on elaborate performances for the cows and thus my acting career was born. When I got old enough, my parents enrolled me in the Arts Center’s summer conservatory program and that’s where I got my dose of human interaction and my roots in theatre. :)

Brittany: How long have you been volunteering at the Arts Center?

Tylee: I’ve been involved at the Arts Center in some way my entire life. I went to Conservatory when I was little and then grew up to be in some different plays once in a while. It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that I found my calling as a consistent volunteer at the Arts Center.

Brittany: In what ways are you involved?

Tylee: I usually run the lights for plays. I found that being on stage was not my forte and got the chance to run lights for a play my mom was in and I ran with it from there. I have also been a part of the set crew, putting up and taking down sets for plays. I’ve even stood in for people during rehearsals, which is not always an easy thing to do. The Arts Center is more than just plays though. I’ve also helped work our Reverse Raffle and the White Oak Craft Fair. My favorite volunteer opportunity is Junior Conservatory. It is two weeks with kids aged six to eleven teaching acting, music, and dance. At the end we put on a play and it’s the best thing to watch the kids grow and perform.

Brittany: What’s your favorite part about volunteering?

Tylee: The sense of community that comes from volunteering and being a part of the Arts Center is the best. Watching kids come back to the Arts Center because they loved Conservatory so much and want to be in plays is really rewarding.

Brittany: What would you say to someone who is interested in getting involved?

Tylee: It doesn’t matter if you can’t act or sing or hammer a nail. There is always something to do at the Arts Center and as long as you’re willing to try you will be welcome. I am the worst artist in the history of mankind and they had me painting very important parts of a set one time, like it was a focal point all would see. But I did my best and everyone learned not to let Tylee have a paintbrush anymore. LOL

Brittany: How has volunteering at The Arts Center affected you in a positive way?

Tylee: If I hadn’t volunteered at the Arts Center I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’ve made so many friends and had so many good times at the Arts Center and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. It’s a really positive place to be and work.

Brittany: Finally, just for fun… do you have any volunteer stories you would like to share?

Tylee: There are so many weird theatre stories it's hard to pick just one. I guess one of my favorite things to tell people is when I was in Fiddler on the Roof there was a group of us kids that got really close and we had our own Fiddler Reunions two years in a row it seems like. We all had a blast and we didn’t want that to end. I’m still friends with that group six years later.

So you want to audition for a show! Now what?

Did you know that all performers in Arts Center productions are all volunteers from the local area? Anyone can audition for our productions, regardless of experience, and the Arts Center often offers new performers (of ALL ages!) their first chance to perform live on stage. If you think you are ready to audition for an upcoming production, here is a step-by-step guide to help you prepare!

How to Learn About Auditions

- Audition announcements are posted on The Arts Center website, facebook page, and sent out to our e-mail newsletter group. To get signed up, visit artscenterofcc.com/auditions

- Once you receive an audition notice, read the audition requirements carefully and research the show you are auditioning for. What sorts of roles are available? What are the age ranges? If a musical, what is the style of music?  Is there a movie version you can watch to help familiarize with the show? Is the script available online or at your local library for you to read?

What to Prepare

- Different shows will require different audition materials, but often directors require that those auditioning prepare 16-32 bars of a song. A “bar” is the same thing as a measure in piano sheet music, defined by two black lines on either side of a section of notes. Depending on the song, 16 bars sometimes equal no more than one page of music (approx. 30 seconds- 1 min). If you decide to sing a capella (meaning without music- only do this if the audition notice states it is allowed), choose a small section of the song.

- Having trouble finding a song? Be sure to pick something in the style of the show and/or the role(s) you are interested in (i.e. if you are auditioning for Ariel in The Little Mermaid, choose something Disney-esque that you can imagine a Disney Princess singing). Find something that shows off your vocal range (how high or low you can go) but that you are also comfortable enough in to sing at an audition even if you get a little nervous!

- Once you pick a song, you can find piano sheet music online to give to the accompanist who will play the piano for you while you sing (be sure to check if an accompanist will be provided for you or if you need to sing a capella). Website databases with a wide range of sheet music selections include www.musicnotes.com and www.sheetmusicplus.com. If you decide to use sheet music out of a song book, be sure to make copies of the pages so the accompanist doesn’t have to worry about turning the page or having the book close accidentally.

- If the audition notice says to prepare a monologue, do just that! Monologues are blocks of dialogue meant to be performed by one actor and are often requested at auditions. Monologues can be found all over the internet and in various monologue books. Keep your monologue in your pocket if you need to look over it before your turn, but be sure to memorize it! If the audition notice states a time limit for your monologue, time yourself when you run through it and make cuts to the dialogue as necessary.

- When an audition notice says to be prepared for “cold readings”, they aren’t referring to the temperature! A cold reading is when you are given a scene or monologue to read with little to no time to prepare. If you have never done a cold reading before, you can use anything to practice! Read a section of the newspaper out loud or find a page of dialogue in a book. If you can locate a script for the show you are auditioning for ahead of time, you can read over the scenes and be extra prepared in the event of a cold reading!

- If there is going to be a dance call and you don’t consider yourself a dancer, don’t panic. The director and choreographer just want to see how well you can take direction and how comfortably you can use your body. Some shows will require strong dancers, but many shows just require “movers” who can learn basic choreography (dance steps) and keep in time with the music. Be sure to dress accordingly if you think you will be dancing- no jeans or clothing that may restrict your movement, wear comfortable or dance specific shoes, pull your hair back so it doesn’t get in your face, etc.

- As your audition approaches you will probably start wondering what you should wear, and usually the answer is “anything that you feel comfortable in”. If you’re still stuck between outfits, think about the show and the roles available. How would the character(s) you are auditioning for dress? What colors or styles? When all else fails- wear something neutral. The director is looking at your performance abilities, not your sense of style!

- For teenage girls and women, neutral hair and makeup is best unless audition requirements state otherwise. Avoid overly high heels and flashy accessories. Let your talent shine, not your jewelry!

- Directors will sometimes request that those auditioning bring a headshot and resume, but it is rarely required. A “headshot” is an 8x10 printed photo, typically from the shoulders up, that represents an actor’s current age, hairstyle, etc. A “resume” includes your physical descriptions, contact information, past experience, education, etc. Search for “Actor Headshots” or “Actor Resume” in Google or another search engine for examples. If this is your first audition or you don’t have much experience, don’t worry about bringing a headshot and resume unless specifically required. There will be audition forms to fill out that will request necessary information.

The Day of the Audition

- Warm-up before you arrive by singing scales and/or going over your audition song to warm up your vocal chords, doing a few tongue twisters to get your mouth moving, and stretching your muscles before your dance audition.

- Double check that you have everything you need before you arrive, including a water bottle or a thermos of hot tea (avoid sugary drinks or dairy products), a pencil, your sheet music clearly marked where your 16-32 bars begin and end, a copy of your monologue if you think you will need to look over it, and clothing to change into for dancing (if necessary).

- Arrive about 10-15 minutes early for your audition so you have time to check in and legibly fill out all necessary forms. Do not be late! Students under the age of 18 often require an adult signature on their forms, so parents or guardians should be available as needed.

- You may be seated inside the audition room with everyone else who is auditioning, or you may be taken in one at a time. Some auditions are held in the theatre, others are held in the rehearsal space or even in the conference room. Regardless of where you are auditioning and who you are in front of, your only focus should be giving the best performance you can give!

- In the audition room you will likely see a table set up where the Director, Choreographer, Music Director, Producer, Stage Manager, etc. will be sitting. These are the people you are auditioning for! They will tell you where to stand when you sing or perform your monologue, and may ask you questions or even compliment you! They might look intimidating as they take notes during your auditions and talk quietly to each other, but just remember that they are rooting for you to do well and they are so happy that you decided to audition for their production.

- When it’s your turn- take a deep breath, plant your feet, don’t fidget, enunciate your words, and project your voice! Don’t rush through your monologue or song. The director wants to hear your volume and how clearly you can speak or sing. It won't matter if you sing like a song bird if no one can hear you!

- If you are cut off before you finish your song or monologue, do not worry. Sometimes the director may hear enough of your voice within the first few lines of your song or monologue, and they may need to cut your audition short due to time constraints. After your audition you may be asked to do a cold reading and/or stay for a dance call, or you might be allowed to leave. Sometimes directors will know how they plan to use you from a 30 second audition, or you may be asked to return on another day for a call back. Never assume you are no longer being considered for a role unless the director (or someone else on the production team) specifically says so!

What Happens After the Audition

- Some directors will hold “call-backs” where they invite specific auditioners to a “second audition” of sorts. Typically, you will be called back for a specific role, and there may be several other people called back for the same role. The call back is your opportunity to learn and perform material from the show so the director can see whose abilities best fit each role. Some call backs will require that you prepare specific songs or scenes in advance, others will involve more cold readings and learning new music.

- Whoever said “the waiting is the hardest part” must have been talking about theatre! After your audition (or call back) you may have to wait several days (or even weeks) until the director announces the cast list. While you’re waiting, it’s never too early to start preparing for future auditions. Make a list or fill a notebook with audition songs you can use, or start acquiring monologues in all different styles and genres.

- If you wait and wait and finally are offered a role, do your happy dance!  But if the news isn’t so good and the director is unable to use you in a specific show, do not be discouraged. I repeat- DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Casting decisions are made based on so many factors, and often ones that are out of your control. A performer’s height, age, schedule, or even hair color may not be what the director needs. Start looking for other upcoming auditions and practicing your cold reading and vocal skills. If you think you need help preparing for your next big audition, the Arts Center offers private audition coaching!

- No matter the outcome of your audition, pat yourself on the back because YOU DID IT! The more you audition the more experience you will gain, so keep at it. We love featuring new talent on our stage and we can’t wait to see YOU under the lights! 

You have questions? We've got answers!

As we prepare to open our 2016 season with the hit Broadway Musical MEMPHIS, we would like to answer some common questions for our new (and returning!) patrons. Don’t see your question on the list? Comment below and let us know how we can help make your experience at the Arts Center one to remember!

What time do Arts Center shows start? 

Generally speaking, Friday & Saturday performances begin at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees begin at 2:00pm. There are exceptions to this rule, however, such as children’s performances that sometimes begin at 2:00 on Saturdays. Show times are always included on our website, and often our Facebook page, so if you are unsure of the start time be sure to go online or call us at 615-563-2787

How does the box office work? 

All of our seats are on a first-come first-serve basis, and everyone has the opportunity to be at the front of the line regardless of when their ticket was purchased. The Box Office opens 1 hour before show time, and as patrons check in they will receive an A, B, C, D, E etc seating pass. There are 50 of each letter, however 25 A’s are set aside for season ticket holders for events in the season. The doors to the theatre open 30 minutes before show time and patrons will be let in in letter order, beginning with As, etc. Don’t want to wait in line but want to be the first in? See information about our Express Passes below!

Are you handicap accessible? 

Yes! There are no steps to enter our building and we have a special seating area inside the theatre for handicap accessibility. If you need to take advantage of our handicapped seating, please request a Pre-Seating pass when checking in at the Box Office.

Do you have a restaurant? 

In the past the Arts Center has had a functioning restaurant that served meals before performances. At this time, however, the kitchen space is rented out to Half Hill Farm, a Kambucha Brewery that does not serve food. We are looking into pre-show dinner options such as food trucks, etc but do not offer food services at this time. There are several restaurants just up the road in downtown Woodbury that may be able to accommodate your family or group. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Do I have to pre-pay? 

Pre-payment is generally required for all concerts and for certain shows in the ACCC season that are expected to sell out. Tickets can be purchased over the phone with any major credit or debit card, online, or in person. We offer group rates for many performances that require pre-payment or a credit card on file. 

What happens if I can't use a ticket I purchased?

In most cases, tickets are non-refundable. We understand, however, that certain emergencies may prevent you from using the ticket you purchased. If you know you are unable to attend a show, please notify us prior to the day of the event and we will do our best to accommodate your refund, although no guarantees can be made. Please note- last minute cancellations and group rated tickets are non-refundable. 

How can I volunteer? 

We thought you’d never ask! There are endless opportunities for volunteers throughout the year, both on stage, back stage, and in the front of house. We utilize volunteers to work box office before performances, for various duties during the White Oak Craft Fair and other events, and during performances as actors, crew, set construction, etc. Send an email to Carol@artscenterofcc.com and tell her a little about your skill set and availability!

What is a Season Ticket? 

Season Tickets are a deal-saving opportunity for patrons to see all six shows in our ACCC season for one low price. Season Ticket holders save over 25% on performance tickets and also have opportunity to attend special events such as the Annual Meeting.  An Adult Season Ticket costs $60 (an $88 value) and a Student Season Ticket costs $50 (a $76 value).

What is an Express Pass? 

An Express Pass is sold in addition to a Season Pass and allows patrons to arrive just 30 minutes before each show and be the first to go into the theatre! Only a limited number of Express Passes are sold for each performance, so you are guaranteed to always get your favorite seat! Express Passes cost $50 each, in addition to Season Ticket costs. 

What is the difference between concerts and shows produced in-house?

 Most concerts are outside acts who are renting our space and performing for only 1-2 nights. While we still publicize concerts and include them as part of our Concert Season, they are different from ACCC produced shows because they are not auditioned and created in-house. 

How do I display/sell my work in the White Oak Craft Shop or Berger Gallery? 

All work featured in our Craft Shop or Gallery is on consignment, must be hand-crafted by local Middle Tennessee artists, and is accepted on an as-needed basis. Crafters must be Artisan Members (can join for $25 if not), and the Arts Center receives 20% of the final sales price. Artists provide their own displays in most cases, and may set their own prices. Artists interested in selling in the White Oak Craft Shop should contact Brittany@artscenterofcc.com. Artists interested in having a gallery exhibit should contact Neal@artscenterofcc.com. 

Can I hold my wedding or event at the Arts Center?

 Absolutely! We offer competitive rental pricing for the Wilma Adams Theatre, Cannon Hall, The Berger Gallery, and our outdoor Pavilion. Visit artscenterofcc.com/eventrentals for pricing, photos, and more information.

How can I audition for a show? 

Auditions are held for most productions and are open to anyone in the community. Sign up for our Audition Mailing List at artscenterofcc.com/auditions and be sure to check our Facebook Page for announcements!