Take The Stage | Moving On Stage

By Ian Kendall - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Last time we talked about combating visual noise on stage. I’d like to expand on that a wee bit, and talk a bit about how we move around on the stage. It won’t take long.

The first thing to discuss is the difference between pacing and walking. In basic terms, unless you take three steps, you are pacing. If you have to move your feet, make sure that you are taking at least three steps in a straight line - we’re not looking for a Shadows step routine here (look them up on YouTube).

When you are walking on stage, the thing to remember is to walk with purpose. That means you are decisive and direct in where you are going; aimlessly strolling around the stage is never a good thing.

Consider this scenario; you are doing a routine that involves talking to three sections of the audience – let’s say it’s a classic six card repeat. You begin downstage centre as you introduce the story. You count off the cards, discard three and count again. You pause a beat for the effect to register, and then you offer to do it again, but this time, you will address the audience stage right. Here’s a possible choreography for that:

• You pause, and then look over to the audience to your right. Make eye contact with a person in the second row, a few seats in from the edge. Say ‘I’ll do it over here…’ (or similar).

• Leading off with your right foot (the upstage one) you take three or four steps to get you to the downstage right. Stop, and plant your feet like we learned last time.

• You are now facing slightly towards the right, at about one o’clock to the starting position.

• You count, discard, and count again. Pause for the effect to register.

• You now look over to the audience to your left. Again, make eye contact with someone, and leading off with your left foot this time, walk six or seven steps so that you are downstage left, looking at eleven o’clock.

• Count, discard, count.

• Without saying anything, lead off your right foot, and take three steps back to downstage centre and finish the routine.

If you pace this out in your rehearsal room, you can see how we are always walking with purpose. In the same way that in close up you look somewhere before you produce an object, here we are looking towards a group before we start moving towards them. This lets the audience know why we are moving; that they now understand the purpose of the walking. Whenever you are blocking out a routine, make sure that you mark out the route you will take as you walk around the stage. If you know where you are going, it makes things a lot easier to plan.

Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to walking is bringing your helpers up on stage. There’s a massive chance that whoever you bring up will not have been on a stage before, and it’s a scary place to be (more on that later, as well). If someone is coming up at the side of the stage, make sure that you are there to greet them as they climb the stairs. As you return to centre stage, make sure that you don’t walk ahead of them; keep yourself at their speed so that you both get to the sweet spot at the same time.

So, remember to always walk with a purpose. Have somewhere to go, and go there. If you have nowhere to go, stay where you are. It’s really that simple

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