What can you get the theater people in your life for the holidays?
Or, actors and designers, what can you get your favorite playwrights and directors, (and vice versa)?
Below is a partially crowd-sourced bunch of ideas you can run out and grab before the holiday season ends.
10. Make-up remover and skin care items. Skin was not designed for the kind of abuse that acting gigs, with all that putting on and taking off of make-up, require. Like many theater artists, unfortunately, I know nothing about good skin care. I found this on Google—where I learned that even the handy wet wipe, like everything else, is destroying the world. Cost for something better: Inexpensive creams may be as little as $6 but nice things start around $20.
9. Printer ink, paper, and postage stamps. Being a writer for the stage isn’t all glamor and autographs—ok, it isn’t really any glamor and no one recognizes you—And, you generally have to print out a ridiculous number of copies of your script for all kinds of overlooked purposes. So you prefer to see the words on a page as you work? You can suck that up and just stare at a screen 12 hours straight, but you’re still going to have to print out 10 copies of the script when you ask your actor friends to come over to your house to read it. That’s 10 copies that are going to be entirely obsolete two seconds after that draft is read out loud. And, that’s just the beginning of the printing nightmare—if you want a theater to consider it, you’re likely to be sending them a Priority Mail package. Buy a poor playwright a break. Cost: You can get packet of 400 pieces of paper for only $4 on the Internet. Toner cartridges usually begin around $70.
8. Socks. Socks are simply the ideal present for all Minnesotans during these winter months. But also, good wool socks keep an artist’s feet warm and can be such fun for sliding on the hardwood of most rehearsal rooms. Cost: The good stuff starts at $12 a pair, at least.
7. Photographs. Obviously, actors need headshots, but you may be surprised to discover that a photo session will probably come in handy for any theater artist. We work in a business where you want people to know who you are. A sexy/funny/serious/vulnerable/beautiful headshot can make an impression. Plus, some marketing department or journalist somewhere is going to ask for it sooner or later—whether you’re the assistant director, light designer, or producer. (You can find a list of some local headshot photographers right on our website. We don’t endorse anyone in particular; they all look pretty good.) Cost: Some introductory packages may start at $150
6. Books. Pamela Espeland has a good rundown of arts-related books, including some very specific to our local theater community. Also, you should make sure Pamela’s column is part of your regular reading in 2016. Cost: Michelle Hensley’s book retails at Barnes & Nobles for $15.19. OffStage Voices by Peggy Guilfoyle is $22.95 at the Historical Society website.
5. Theater tickets. Trying to keep up with your field, trying to experience other artists so that you can continue to grow as an artist yourself, is just too darn expensive. Some subscription series from theaters around town can start as low as $60. Pick a place and give a call. And, since theater artists often have really erratic schedules and eclectic tastes, you might consider the Southern Theater’s new ARTShare program at only $18/month. Twenty-five different companies are lined up for 2016. If you’re a current Talent Profile holding, you can also get 20% OFF to ARTShare. (Email me for the coupon code.) Cost: $60 to $250, depending on the theater and the number of shows per year.
4. Talent Profile on MinnesotaPlaylist. If you’re in the business, then you’re basically in the business of constantly applying for a job. A MinnesotaPlaylist Talent Profile is the equivalent of putting a resume in front of lots and lots of people who are hiring artists without actually having to carry around a resume or sit in on a bunch of job interviews. People who make hiring decisions use it, even when the artist isn't thinking about it. Don’t take our word for it. Ask a casting director in town. And the best part is the cost: Only $40 for a whole year.
3. Body Work/Classes. 60-minute massage. Yoga classes. Classes in Alexander technique, or physical theater or improvisation. These are good gifts for anyone, but they are actually essential for performers. A performer's body is their instrument. It’s like, if you had a dentist friend, you might buy him or her a year’s supply of dental floss—it’s like that only much much more exciting. Here’s an option that also advertises on MinnesotaPlaylist.
Alternative for designers and techs: Does Norcostco or Monkey Wrench Productions offer gift certificates? How about EMI Audio for the sound designer in your life?
2. Meal Train. For tech week. (This is the best idea ever.) If you love a theater person, then you probably hate tech week. They hate it too—and the pathetic, scarfing down of whatever fast food is closest to the theater only makes everything so much worse. Show that you care by finding out your friend’s tech week schedule in advance, then organizing a meal train. It will do wonders for their mental health, and your relationship. Cost: The price of dinner times approx. 7 days. This one is excellent to do with your college buddies.
1. A Star. Just give them what they’ve wanted all along. To be a star.