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More Ways to Help
Holding Book , Part 5


  • Set the show back on course should things go haywire during a rehearsal.

    Lines and blocking are sometimes forgotten in first rehearsals off book. When things have completely stalled, you will need to know where they went wrong and help the director get the rehearsal back on track. As always, discuss this with the director before you start. Some don't want the bookholder to say a word unless asked. Others allow you to use your good judgment to let them know when things have really gone off the deep end.

  • Read lines for an actor who is absent from rehearsal.

    As is sometimes the case with community theater, actors miss rehearsal for a variety of reasons. You can help out the cast and the actors by reading the missing actor's lines. This is generally done from your seat in the house. Read the lines clearly and loudly enough for the actors on stage to hear. Don't try to read like you're gunning to be a replacement.

  • Provide "sound effects" (i.e., phone ringing, car crashing, toilet flushing, etc.) until the technical crew gets things set up.

    Here's a chance to show off your hidden talent for making odd noises. Actors need to know how to work with sound cues and the best way to help them out is to provide those noises in early rehearsals. Once you've held book a few times you will have a large repertoire of sounds with which to amuse your friends and annoy your significant other.

  • A special note to stage managers.

    Bookholding is an excellent way for stage managers to be even better at their jobs. Why? Because you will be completely familiar with all elements of the play. You will have first hand experience with the dialog, the sound cues, the light cues, the entrances, and the exits. And you will know the possible rough spots to watch for. There is nothing like knowing that it's usually about page 52 where those folks up on stage often decide to shorten up the play by skipping to page 57.

Nobody will ever say that bookholding is the most exciting job in the theater, but it is an important task. For newcomers, it offers invaluable opportunities to learn about getting a play from first rehearsal to opening night. And for experienced community theater participants, bookholding provides a chance to learn how different directors and actors work, even as you are helping out your group. So grab a script, some pencils, a BIG eraser, and a really tough hide-then get out there and hold that book!

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