Behind the scenes during BC’s theater production Rumors
Over the past three years the theater program at Bristol Central hasn’t been the same. With the spread of Covid, they’ve had a show canceled, an online show, a show outside with masks… This year was the first opportunity they have gotten to do a non-musical traditional play in three years! The production Rumors, was put on by Central Stage from January 27-29. There’s a lot that goes on backstage, from costuming to learning and rehearsing lines, to tech. Stage director, Mrs. DiPietro, or as the cast knows her, ‘Chute’, as well as costume director, Mrs. Gallo, have let us in on all of the secrets to the stage.
When speaking with Mrs. DiPietro, we got to see a glimpse of what things are like backstage. First of all comes auditions and the casting process. One thing that is kept in mind when casting actors as characters is how a person reads through a character– do they find interesting ways to read lines and perform at auditions? For musicals, it’s a bit different as they are also based on singing and dancing. So with plays, actors have to give everything they’ve got into acting as the character as best as they can.
Rumor has it that Rumors was actually the first production that Mrs. DiPietro directed here at Bristol Central, 15 years ago. “It’s interesting because so much has changed since then (the show was written in the 80s), and the humor is a little tougher to navigate because, culturally, so much has changed. We actually had to write to the company that owns the show and ask for some alterations to be made to the script. Lines that were okay back then, are super offensive now. It’s also interesting to see how different actors handle different roles–it ended up being a very different production!” She says.
Getting ‘off-book’ or having all of your lines memorized is a challenge that all actors have to face. Obviously, long rigorous hours of rehearsals are needed, but actors can memorize lines in a plethora of ways. “Some people record their voice, some write lines down, some just read and speak the lines over and over again. Repetition and rehearsal are key!”
Obviously, just what you see on stage is not all that happens during a show. A good tech crew is always needed to make a good show! This show specifically was not a very tech heavy show, however some jobs during Rumors include:
- Helping with costume changes
- Changing mic batteries
- Running sound cues
- Making realistic drinks and food for the actors
- Light board operator
- Curtain operator
Costumes can make or break a show. When talking to Mrs. Gallo, we were able to get a more general understanding of the process of costuming. The process begins when Mrs. Gallo converses with Mrs. DiPietro to get an understanding of what she wants the costumes in the show to look like. Usually there’s a general inspiration from a color scheme to the time period of the costumes– How do you find inspiration for the costumes? “Costumes are more than fabric and
hot glue, there’s a story behind them and you’re able to look at a character’s culture and background and you’re able to draw a story from that into their costume,” she says.
Fun fact: Mrs. Gallo has been costuming since 2006. Her favorite show she costumed was “Guys and Dolls.” She expressed that “I like time-period specific shows, so shows that take place in the 20’s, 30s or the 80s. I like time specific shows because you can make use of clothing that came from that decade and draw inspiration easily.” What was different about costuming this show? “The actors are always on stage, so that means less or even no costume changes. Usually every scene or act there is a costume change so it was easier in the aspect of not needing to constantly change clothing,” she says.
There are challenges that come with costuming, one challenge specifically is making everyone happy with their costume and sometimes that isn’t possible. Mrs. Gallo said: “Sometimes you’re playing an 80 year old grandmother and the 16, 17 year old isn’t always happy looking like that.”
One thing that a lot of people don’t know about this sort of thing is that costumers work extremely hard with little or even no funding so you have to learn to find help, going to discount stores or going through storage and searching. So a lot of it is being smart with finding the perfect costumes that don’t have to be purchased or finding the right price for costumes.
Look out for more theater and musical theater at BC. There are talented students just waiting to take the stage and talented crew members who can’t wait to build it!
By Lissette Castillo ’25 & Miguel Salguero ’25
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