One of the biggest problems I've seen with haunt actors that comes up every year is physical fitness. Specifically, the lack there of. If you're following my haunt acting rules and tips you'll find that acting in a haunt is exhausting and physically demanding. I even go so far as to make sure that each actor is going home sore and well worked each evening. If you're not, then you simply aren't doing your job right.
I train my actors that intensity is the key to all haunt acting problems, if you are intense enough, anything you do will be scary. At the first day of training I say the same thing to every haunt actor, if you aren't already working out at least twice a week, then you need to start. Most people hear that advice and kind of let it go into one ear and drift out of the opposing one, then the haunt opens and halfway through the season people stop coming to work. Why?
It could be a number of reasons but mainly, they are sick or too sore and weak to continue. They want to come but they fear that ill health would get the better of them if they don't take a day or two off. The problem with haunt work is that the day or two they take off equates to an entire weekend which is a big chunk of time to miss out on haunt acting.
I figure this when I work:
I normally work out everyday or every other. When the haunt season begins I stop work out routines in favor of haunt acting. If I normally work out for an hour everyday then I work out for five hours a week, that is excluding weekends to recover.
When I work at the haunt as a manager I need to be at every open day so for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I work from seven till midnight actually running around and being in character, and in my case, with a twenty-five to thirty pound chainsaw. That equates to five hours each night, not including make-up and dress down. Fifteen hours in one weekend involve me in costume screeching and screaming while sliding, running, crawling, and literally throwing a chainsaw at arms length at patrons.
5 hours/ week becomes 15 hours/weekend
That doesn't include the hell weeks when we are open everyday through Halloween.
Actors don't typically work out the general math like above, so we have people going from zero physical activity to around 10 to 15 hours a week smashed into two to three day bursts.
The only solution is to get your actors fit and ready to perform so that the soreness and the fatigue becomes something they are accustomed to dealing with and recovering from. Stressing the importance of a good diet is also a must. Actors need the right fuel to perform and recover their bodies with. Then at least at the end of the season actors can go home with a little money and in better, healthier bodies than they started with.
ps I'll post my haunt acting rules and tips in the next post.
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One thing you also need to train is your voice. Nothing is worse than someone who can do a fabulous scream only to lose their voice 3 hours into the first night because they're doing it wrong.
Voice lesson are an absolute great tool as well as practicing before the haunt opens. If you can't scream for 5 hours like you did at audition, make sure you can by October or find a position where loud voices aren't needed.
I do voice work so I tend not to do loud characters for fear of damaging my vocal cords. I tend to play the silent killer type or someone who does random chats with patrons.
I agree that a good fitness routine is vital to being a strong actor that has the stamina to last through the season.
I spent over a decade involved with gymnastics, dance, ballet, and figure skating and I use the same stretching warm ups and cool downs for every night of acting. Most actors tend not to stretch before going full bore and easily get winded, sprain an ankle, or pull a muscle.
Badger, I also agree that proper vocal warm ups are vital and also overlooked. I grew up in theater and I teach the vocal warm ups I used for the stage to new actors.
I start working with my voice about 1-2 months b4 season kicks off just so i have plenty of time to get my vocals in shape.
I also try to warm up each night before i go on whether thats takin a jog around the stadium or just stretching out in the locker room if im short on time.
Try to get them to cut down on junk food, tell them if they have to eat out eat subway. Junk food, pop, chips, candy, and greasy burgers and fries only hurt your energy levels and your health during the haunt. Tell them salads, fruit, and veggies are their best friends!
The best advice i can give though because badge and kate already covered most of the "get ready" stuff is to push your actors to take vitamins. It never fails i always end up in the hospital around halloween trying to battle some horrible sickness. I try to push the vitamins as much as i can but i have a weak immune system anyways.
Tell them to keep the vitamins going and keep everything at their stations sanitary, you dont want a flu bug ravaging your haunt actors and completely killing their drives. Baby wipe everything down and keep them from sharing food, drinks, and any sort of lip makeups or tooth makeups. Keep hand sanitizer handy for before the night starts and after its finished.
Keep those actors safe, fit and healthy
Rotting Flesh Radio Haunt Hottie
glucosamine chondroitin I highly reccomend it, great for joints, I reccommend it to all of my actors.
"with a twenty-five to thirty pound chainsaw."
what are you using, most chainsaws weigh ten pounds?
No wonder your sore every night.
No no, he's not sore every night because he's super in shape cuz of his awesome training regimen.
Very good post! I try to keep in the best shape possible, not only does it keep you from getting sore but I mean. Ride your bike for an hour everyday and you would be surprised how much more energy you have at the haunt. People actually think i drink energy drinks i bounce off the wall so much. I dont by the way, I think they are disgusting and dont seem to do much.
Only problem is that i get headaches and that makes me tone down the performance till my tylenol kicks in.
I train MMA and in the gym you are pushed for cardio to the max. Putting on the full head latex mask for 5 hours seems easy then. My charachter presses me to weight train and keep a good size on too. Keeps some of the schmucks from messing with me and some think I'm security in costume.
I try to give 100% start to finish and working the Q lines you need fitness and good clean food to fuel those kinds of activities. Showing up and eating pizza and soda is not a good way to start the night. Anyway, diet is also something to consider. I am after guys on my job sites for eating crappy and bonking all the time.