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Actore116
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bullet Topic: Opening/ Closing Gifts?
    Posted: 10/03/06 at 12:12am

I just wanted to know should I give opening and/or closing night gifts and  if so what is the appropiate amount to spend? Any ideas for gifts other people have given would be helpful!

~Thanks

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B-M-D
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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 12:29am

The old adage "it's the thought that counts" has worked well for me most of the time.   A personal hand written note expressing your appreciation on opening night is very appropriate.  Some actors write one for everyone in the cast, the stage manager and the director.   As a director I do one for each of my actors and everyone on the production staff.

Closing night is usually a group gift of some kind to each of the production staff members including the director and the cost is split among the cast.

BD

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eveharrington
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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 4:08am
If you decide to give gifts, the easiest way is usually something inexpensive that relates in some way to the show. I've gotten a Christmas ornament for a Christmas show, a plastic rosary for a religious show, etc. They aren't fancy, they're just something small to look at and remember the show. If you're really creative you can even do a scrapbook page in a cheap frame for your castmates. Include the program and a quote from their character, maybe a picture or two if you have them.   
"If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights."
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Nanette
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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 7:01am

Personally, I don't do gifts for the entire cast.  They start expecting it every time and if you have a "cast of thousands", it can get rather expensive rather quickly.  I make sure, though, to have a program set aside for each one that is passed among the cast to sign (we usually do this at a cast party held at someone's home or at a restaurant) and then make sure it gets back to each actor as a memento.

You must also be careful if you're giving gifts that are religious in nature.  EG: A theatre did a production of Fiddler, and the director gave everyone in the cast a necklace with the Star of David on it.  (Note:  No one in the play was Jewish.)  Does anyone else find this offensive?  I mean, couldn't the director have found something else to remember the show by instead of a piece of jewelry that really symbolizes the Jewish faith?!

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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 8:34am

Several people in the show I just finished up were shutter-happy -- so one person gave everyone a framed cast photo with character names photoshopped in, the two guys in the cast gave everyone a signed framed picture of themselves (sounds tacky but it was hilarious) and I gave everyone a do-it-yourself photo cube -- I scanned in the show's poster, got it down to the 4" x 4" size of the cube, and left 5 sides empty for them to fill with other cast pictures.

These are all cheap and easy, as was one of my favorite cast gifts they I've received: a magnet with the show's poster on it.  The giver scanned in the poster, reduced it to about 2" x 3", printed it out on sticky paper, sticky papered it to a sheet of magnet and cut it out.  It's useful, I don't have to dust it, and it reminds me of her every time I see it!

 

 

 

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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 8:59am

I couldn't agree more with B-M-D.  A nice short note can really say it all and is highly appropriate from one cast member to another and as a thank you to your directorial and support staff (don't forget those techies!)  It is never required, but it sure goes along way to say thank you.

Now, the following does NOT apply to your situation at this point in your theater career. And beyond letting people know they are appreciated and that you appreciate the opportunity that they have provided you, you have no further obligation than saying thank you.

As some of the others have already expanded this post.. let me join in as well..

I guess I see no real problem with giving a star of david for Fiddler, and, like you, I might have searched for some other symbol of the show. I don't, however, find it "offensive".  I doubt if they intended for you to wear it, but rather to add it to all your Theater Stuff..

In the GENERAL catagory of gifts and speaking both as an actor and director, I always have loved giving and receiving gifts at the close of a show... (or any other time for that matter)  For a long time I would try something that was specific to the show... Sometimes it was cool.. Sometimes it was lame..  I decided that I wanted to give something that was theater'sk, recognized the show, but was yet uniquely me...  I have always loved the stories surrounding the theater's  St Genesius traditions. So, I give a medal that I designed.. It is like those medals you get at a race or some such event (don't ask me about sports, ok) On the front is picture of St Genesius, on the back is the name of the show, the year, the theater and the character name. I have them strung with different color ribbons for each show.. or as best as possible. When I do a show at the High School where I teach, I use our school colors. If it is a Christmas show I might use red and green.. That kind of thing.  I give one to everyone, cast and crew. And yes it does get a bit expensive on the larger shows and on top of that, I have been known to direct 5 shows a year... But, I enjoy them, and I think the recipeints do as well. When I sign up to do a show, I mentally acknowledge this expense going in.  Plus I get the added perk of sharing some of the St G. Stories with folks that might not have heard them.. I get a lot of mileage stringing it all together from opening night circle time right through to closing night presentations..

I also love when I get some little do-dad from a thoughtfull person, a fellow director when I'm in thier cast or when I get one of those director gifts that took a lot of thought..

Just another ole boy's ramblings...

Marty W

"Till next we trod the boards.."
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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 9:27am

The norm for our CT is for the cast to take up a collection (usually under $5), and one of the leads will buy and present a gift (something show appropriate) to the director and producer at the cast party. As a cast member, I have been in shows where someone would buy a bucket of flowers (anywhere from carnations to roses) for opening night and tell everyone to take home a flower.  I used to make up a nice 8x10 cast photo (with name of the show, dates, etc., photoshopped in) and give one to every cast / crew member. Casts began to expect it, plus it got rather time consuming and expensive (ink jet cartridges and heavy photo paper) for large shows. So, now I print up a couple photos and put them in the lobby and the green room.  I figure the approximate cost per photo, and take orders. As a director I always give everyone a card with a hand written note. Once when I directed "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" (a large children's show), the Christmas spirit took over and I gave every cast and crew member an engraved ornament.  I don't do that for everyshow, but with so many kids in the cast, and being Christmas, I wanted to do something. In most cases, the cast and crew become like family during the run of the show, and it is nice to do something for one another to show your appreciation. 

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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 4:58pm

I should have read this thread before posting on the "poll: do you pay" topic, because pretty much what I said there relates to gift giving. (if interested, please refer to my very recent post on that topic).

I agree that some type of "thank you" should be given, be it a note, a gift reflecting something to do with the show, gifts chosen specifically relating to individual characters in the show, generic tokens, whatever.  It expresses your thanks in a very personal way, and gives the recipients something by which to remember the production.  They don't need to be expensive, and often the handcrafted ones are the nicest and most personal.

I also agree with those on the Board that weren't offended by the choice of a Star of David as a gift for the Fiddler cast.  It is a gift that relates to the show and to their characters in it.  When I gave gifts for Agnes of God, I purchased St. Genesius medals, St. Agnes prayer cards, angel candle holders....all purchased at our local Catholic store.  Only two people in the cast and crew were Catholic, but the gifts were appreciated because of their relevance to the show.  No one was offended because they received them knowing that that was the intent. 

As the sage said, "it ain't the gift, it's the thought (and the thanks) behind it!"

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bullet Posted: 10/03/06 at 9:44pm
If you're wondering what to get me, make it a six-pack of Guinness and a pack of cigarettes to replace the ones of mine you smoked during rehearsal

Seriously......what I treasure the most and keep the longest are the cards and notes my casts have written me, although when we did Peter Pan together, (me as Hook and she as the prettiest "ugly" pirate you'll ever see) my wife spent way to much on a Disney cel of Captain Hook and had the cast sign it.  
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bullet Posted: 10/04/06 at 4:07am
For most of the shows I've done (pantos) I haven't given gifts to everyone in the cast, simply because there are an awful lots of people! I usually do cards for everybody though, with a personal message, which I think (hope!) is appreciated just as much, since, as many other people have already said, it's the thought that counts!

For directors and crew, our cast usually collects money and goes and buys a group gift, something funny or relevant to the show, for instance, for a kids show I'm in at the moment, our main story is The Ugly Duckling, so we're going to buy a plastic rubber duck for the Director, SM etc and have everyone (all 6 of us) sign it with messages.
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