Production Basics

From audience etiquette to audition information, the lists below include guidelines useful to parents, community members and students. Please contact Dena Roncone with questions at


As members of the audience, you play an important part in the success of a theatrical performance. Please keep in mind that common courtesy for the performers as well as your fellow audience members will optimize everyone’s theatre experience. We want you to laugh, cheer, clap and really enjoy your time at the theatre, but there are a few basic etiquette tips that need to be followed.

DO Arrive Promptly. Even better – arrive early. At most theatres, including The Prairie School’s John Mitchell Theatre, late arrivals are not seated until an appropriate break in the action. Make an effort to arrive at the theatre 20 minutes before the show starts. Get to your seat before the performance begins.

DO Turn OFF All Electronic Devices – They interfere with audience enjoyment and the theatre’s electrical equipment. Beepers, pagers, alarm watches, cell phones, iPods, CD players, and other noisy electronic devices have no place in the theatre. At the very least, turn them off and at best leave them at home or locked in your car.

Please Do NOT Talk, Whisper, Sing, Hum, or Make Unnecessary Noises During The Performance. Laughing at jokes and applauding the actors is encouraged, but do not repeat dialogue or explain the plot to your companion. Unlike watching television at home, you did not pay to listen to your neighbors, so please don’t make them listen to you.

DO Laugh and Clap at Appropriate Times of the Show. Actors get energy back from the audience and use your response as part of their performance.  The more you give, the more you get back.

Do NOT Eat Or Drink In The Theatre. Unlike a movie, which keeps going no matter what noise you make, the actors on stage are distracted by what they hear in the theatre. You will contribute to an enjoyable experience if you refrain from rattling wrappers. With the exception of bottled water, food/drinks are NOT allowed in the John Mitchell Theatre

DO Keep Your Feet Off The Seats. Respect the furniture and the aesthetics of our theatre.

Do NOT text during the show.  The small screen of your cell phone or other electrical communication device emits much more light in a dark theatre than you realize.  It is a distraction to other audience members and to the actors. We instead invite you to allow yourself to relax and enjoy the message the theatrical company is presenting while you are in the theatre.

DO Remain In Your Seat Until The End. The end means the end of the curtain call. If you are ill and must leave before the show is over, leave as quietly as you can and at an appropriate break in the action. Please do your best to use the restrooms only during intermission. Should you leave the theatre during a performance you will not be permitted back in until an appropriate break.

Parents and other well-wishers can meet their performers in the lobby. No one will be admitted to the backstage area.

Please report any disturbances or disruptive behavior during the performance to an usher or the House Manager.


At The Prairie School the Performing Arts Department believes that educational theatre is, above all, theatre in an educational framework, not education in a theatrical framework. We intend for our plays and musical productions to be as skillfully staged, acted, designed, played and lighted as is possible within the resources and talent pool of our school. We encourage anyone who is interested to audition. We hold closed auditions, meaning only auditioning students attend the audition process.

The Directors make casting decisions based on some or all of the following:

  1. Quality of the audition
  2. Specific performance skills required by a role
  3. Suitability of the auditioner for a specific role
  4. Artistic vision of the Directors
  5. Performer’s attitude, commitment level, availability and work ethic
  6. Academic Standing – not on academic probation

In casting we follow no seniority policy. Principal roles are not reserved for Eighth Graders or Seniors; Seventh graders or Freshmen may be cast in lead roles. In addition, casting is not based on which students worked hardest to prepare for the audition; we expect all students who audition to be fully prepared.

The actor who, in the opinion of the Directors, is most “right” for each role is cast. Students may be “typed in” or “typed out” based on physical characteristics or presentation. Qualities taken into consideration may include: vocal abilities (i.e. range, projection and articulation), physical abilities (i.e. ability to make movement choices), emotional range (i.e. vulnerability or strength), ability to make clear choices about what the character is doing, demonstrated work ethic, willingness to take direction positively, and the ability to work as an ensemble member. Qualities NOT taken into consideration include: ethnic background, age, grade, religion, and personal likes or dislikes.

An audition is a clean slate for all students; we do not pre-cast any productions. It is our philosophy that every student, whether they are new to the program or a seasoned veteran, has a place in the theatre program.  Therefore, casting and placement decisions are not determined by what a student has done for the Prairie Performing Arts Department in the past. Our casting is also not determined by what a student has done for other educational or community theatre organizations. Being invited to audition, either directly or indirectly, does not guarantee a role.

Auditioning students are expected to accept any role and not allowed to audition for specific roles. It is our belief that all roles are equally important to the overall production and the learning experience.  It takes the talents of an entire company to mount a successful show; no role or amount of stage time is insignificant.  In fact, every role is a challenge and every production a team-building opportunity.

Directors’ casting decisions are final. Callbacks are sometimes necessary. However, it is important to understand the callback process. Not being invited to a callback does NOT mean you are not in consideration for a role. Likewise, being invited to a callback does not mean you will be cast in a role. If a student is not cast in their desired role and feels the need for feedback, the student may make an appointment to meet with the Directors the week after casting in order to receive feedback on their audition. If further discussion is needed, the student should then ask for a joint parent/student meeting with the Directors.

Notice of auditions is given at morning meetings and posted on school message boards.  Students are assigned or sign up for specific time slots.  Depending on the production the audition may involve reading, singing and/or dancing.  It is to a student’s advantage to be present at the scheduled audition; in extenuating circumstances the Directors may approve a special, pre-arranged audition time.

We recognize that there are often more qualified, talented actors than there are available roles, and we understand that casting decisions may not please everyone. Auditioning is competitive and a life art!  Learning to accept any role gracefully is one of the important lessons of the theatre. Perhaps another actor was better suited for the role; perhaps the Directors imagine a student’s skills in a role very different from the one the actor had in mind. The feeling of “rejection” over not getting a first choice role seems disappointing at first, but we strongly urge students to commit themselves to the whole production, further sharpen their skills, and trust the process.

How can students improve future auditions? We strongly encourage every student to enroll in theatre, choir, or dance classes at Prairie.  We further encourage students to take outside voice or dance lessons, enroll in theatre and music summer workshops, or participate in community theatre and music opportunities.  Take your talent and grow to the next level.

STUDENTS: By auditioning you are obligating yourself to a major rehearsal and performance process. Please be certain that you are willing and able to accept this responsibility.  Your audition is your commitment to accept AND perform any role offered to you.

PARENTS: Your child’s audition is their commitment to accept AND perform any role in which they are cast. The very nature of this art form is a roller coaster of both disappointment and success. Our goal is to teach our students how to deal with both, so when they leave Prairie they will be well prepared to navigate their way toward success in a complex world. We encourage families to celebrate and support any role in which a student is cast in any Prairie production, be it principal, supporting, ensemble, technical or orchestral.