A GUIDEBOOK TO THE COWBOY THEATRE COMPANY

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

 

What is the difference between Coppell High School Theatre and the Cowboy Theatre Company?

You will see both these monikers a lot, and they both mean roughly the same thing.  We “rebranded” as the Cowboy Theatre Company this year with a new name, new logo, new mission statement, a new class, and a fresh new outlook for the new decade!  Basically, the Cowboy Theatre Company is the group of talented performers and technicians that comprise the theatre department at Coppell High School and CH9.  So if you’re reading this, congratulations - you’re a part of the Cowboy Theatre Company family!

 

CLASSES

 

What classes are offered in the Coppell High School and CHS9 theatre departments?

CHS9 Performance Classes:

Spotlight - This is a beginning theatre course with no previous experience required.  Students will receive a general introduction to the world of theatre, theatre history, acting, and theatrical production. 

Take One - An advanced 9th grade acting class that is “audition only.” Students will take a deep dive into scene work, monologues, physical and vocal preparation, and ensemble work.

 

CHS9 Technical Theatre Classes:

Technical Theatre 1 - This is an introductory technical theatre course.  Students will learn about tool and shop safety, basic set construction, theatre history, and get a small taste of theatrical roles like lighting, sound, projections, costumes, props, sets, and stage management.

 

Coppell High School Performance Classes:

Spotlight - This is a beginning theatre course with no previous experience required.  Students will receive a general introduction to the world of theatre, theatre history, acting, and theatrical production. 

Broadway Bound - This is an intermediate level acting class.  Students will work on intensive scene work and character study, explore movement onstage, learn about multicultural theatre, and typically perform a full show for a public audience (may not be possible due to COVID-19).

Studio Premier - This is an advanced acting class that can be taken twice (Studio Premier II & IV).  Students will work on acting for film,  preparing and performing competition pieces, auditioning, college audition monologues, and Shakespeare.  This class culminates in a student-written one man show for the public.

In Production - This is an advanced acting and technical theatre course that is “audition only” for 10th-12th grade students.  Students will work only on the UIL one act play in this class, from selecting, to casting, to performing, to designing and building all technical aspects.  This class can be taken up to 3 times (In Production II, III, and  IV).

Fame - FAME is a musical theatre class where students learn the basics of vocal production, singing, acting through song, various styles of musical theatre dance, and eventually choreography.  This class can be taken up to 3 times (Fame I, II, and III).  This class culminates in a musical workshop or performance for the public (may not be possible due to COVID-19).

 

Coppell High School Technical Theatre Classes:

Technical Theatre 1 - This is an introductory technical theatre course.  Students will learn about tool and shop safety, basic set construction, theatre history, and get a small taste of theatrical roles like lighting, sound, projections, costumes, props, sets, and stage management.

Advanced Technical Theatre - This course groups all advanced technicians together for a deep dive into design techniques, technical specialities (lighting, sound, projections, costumes, props, sets, and stage management), and college interview/competition preparation for technical theatre.  Students in this class will also build for the main stage productions.  This class  can be taken up to three times (Technical Theatre II, III &  IV)
 

LOCATIONS, PLACES & ROOMS

 

Where is the theatre department at Coppell High School?

The Theatre Department offices and classrooms at Coppell High School are located in “F” Hall, commonly known as the Fine Arts hall.  Choir and Band are also located in F Hall. This hall will become your theatre student’s “home away from home” during productions and their sophomore, junior and senior years.  See the map here. 

  • Green Room/tech classroom - F102

  • Scene Shop - F104

  • Mrs. Ruth’s room/theatre classroom - F107

  • Mrs. Ruth’s office - F109

  • Mr. Aschbrenner’s office - F112

  • Black Box Theater

  • Auditorium

Where is the theatre department at CHS9?

The Theatre Department office and classrooms at CHS9 are located in their “F” Hall, around the back of the building by “The Dome,” also known as the auditorium.  See the map here.

  • Mrs. Holt’s room/CHS9 theatre classroom - F103

  • Scene Shop - F104

  • Auditorium

 

Where is / what is the Black Box Theater?

Located in the “F” Hall at CHS, the Black Box Theater is a small, bare room that’s painted all black.  It has a stage area and movable seats/risers which provides a more intimate venue for productions than the larger Main Stage Auditorium.  It is used for rehearsals, Drama Club Meetings, and smaller productions. 

 

Where is / what is the Band Hall door?

The Band Hall door is located at the end of “F” Hall at CHS underneath the large white Coppell Cowboy & horse sign on the side of the school, right off of Cowboy Drive. It is near the Main Entrance to Coppell High School, the Visitor Parking Lot, and the Auditorium.  There is a ramp and a staircase that leads up to it.  This is a frequent point of entry/pick up/drop off for our department.  See image below!

 

 

Where is / what is the Green Room?

The Green Room is a room backstage for performers.  It is used as a holding area, dressing room and resting area by the cast and crew.  The door is located on the right side of “F” Hall at CHS in Room F102. The technical theatre classes are also typically held in the Green Room.  The costume closets and dressing rooms are located here, too.

 

Where is / what is the scene shop?

“The shop” is where our tech students build and assemble sets and props for productions and class. The tools and materials are stored in “the shop.” It is the third door on the right in “F” Hall at CHS; Room F104. The scene shop is connected to a metal working room which opens to the horseshoe bus loop.

 

AUDITIONS & REHEARSALS

Who can be a part of Cowboy Theatre Company shows and productions?

ANYONE!  Just come out and audition for a production, or interview for a technical theatre role. If you’re interested, we can find a way to get you involved!

 

How does the audition process work?

Auditions are “try-outs” for a production. For both straight plays and musicals, a performer will be asked to read from the script provided by the director. In addition, a performer will be asked to sing a musical selection and dance a choreographed routine when auditioning for a musical.  See our Cowboy Theatre Company Audition & Interview Guide for more detailed information.

 

What’s a callback?

A callback is a second audition, allowing the directors to take a more in-depth look at a performer’s abilities and to consider them for specific roles in the production.  A callback does not necessarily guarantee a role, and NOT getting a callback doesn’t mean you weren’t cast.

 

What are rehearsals?  Where and when are they held?

Rehearsals are like practices - learning the ins and outs of the production (dialogue, music, choreography, blocking).  They typically begin after school (5:00pm) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and run until 8:00 or 8:30 PM. Weekend rehearsals vary in time and length, but are usually Sundays from 1:00-5:00 PM.  The Cowboy Theatre Company follows UIL rules for the legal amount of rehearsal time allowed for students. 

 

Can I contact my student during rehearsals?

It is not easy to contact a student during rehearsal.  During all rehearsals, cast and crew members do not have access to their phones.  They do try to check messages and return calls during breaks.  ***Call or text Director Karen Ruth in an emergency at 213-590-2906***

 

TECHNICAL THEATRE / BACKSTAGE CREWS

 

What if my learner doesn’t want to perform onstage?

Every production needs people behind the scenes to be successful.  There are plenty of jobs for students who don't like to be in the spotlight.  Costuming, Lighting, Sound, Set, Makeup, Props, and Stage Management are just a few technical positions available for non-performers.  Your student can interview for these roles during the audition process for a show.

 

What is a set build?

A set build is the actual designing and building of the set used in a production.  Set builds are usually held every Saturday in the weeks leading up to the show.  Students and parent volunteers work together to create, build, and paint  anything needed for the set - scenery, scaffolding, props, even costumes.  (Set builds may look different this year due to COVID-19). 

 

When do tech crews meet and work?

Tech crews typically meet and work at the same time the actors are rehearsing - Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 5:00 PM - 8:00 or 8:30 PM.  They are also encouraged to come to Saturday set builds, and are called to Sunday rehearsals later in the rehearsal process.

 

SHOW INFORMATION

 

Are there any fees or costs for participating in Cowboy Theatre Company productions?

Yes, there may be fees for participating in some Cowboy Theatre Company productions, particularly the musical.  Each production requires licensing fees, costumes, sets, and props - which can get expensive.  Each musical cast and crew member will pay a fee to help cover these costs; price is determined per show.  Most straight plays do not require a fee to be paid.

 

Should I keep a calendar to keep track of all things theatre?

Keeping a calendar of your student’s theatre schedule is highly recommended. It will not only keep you involved and up-to-date, it will also help “remind” your student of upcoming events.  You will receive a rehearsal schedule each week when your child is in a show, and that should help you stay on track!

 

How do I help my child balance theatre and schoolwork?

One of the best ways to help your child balance school and theatre demands is to be patient and supportive when they seem overwhelmed.  Help them keep a calendar of EVERYTHING - their daily assignments, upcoming tests, theatre rehearsals, productions...and make sure they schedule DOWN TIME!  Students are also asked to work on classwork when they’re not needed in rehearsals.

 

What is “Tech Week”?

Tech Week (also known as “Hell Week”) typically starts the Saturday before the show actually opens (approximately 1 week before opening).  All members of the cast and crew are called each day for rehearsals of the entire production, and rehearsals on the weekends are typically all day long (also known as a “9 to 9”).  Tech Week is physically and emotionally exhausting, but extremely important for making the show  run smoothly, so be prepared for cranky kids that week. =)

 

What can I expect on show nights?

Cast and crew members must arrive at the school at their call time to get ready for their performance.  Students (and parents) will be a bundle of nerves, excitement and emotion. After the show, the cast and crew can meet parents and friends outside “F” Hall for pictures and chatting before they change, clean up the rehearsal space, and are cleared for dismissal by either a director or lead stage manager. 

 

Why is my child so moody after a show ends?

After a show ends, your child may be sad and gloomy, almost as if they are in mourning.  The show is a culmination of MONTHS of hard, exhausting work.  The cast and crew have literally laughed, cried, screamed, stressed, worried, jumped for joy and performed together.  Now that the show is over, they just don’t know what to do without seeing their theatre family every day.  But this too shall pass.  Just be patient and loving while it lasts!

 

Will my house ever be quiet again?

In a word, NO! There will be lots of acting, singing, dancing, laughing, long phone calls with fellow theatre kids, practicing, blocking, tech talk and more. The noise will be worth it, we promise!  =) 

 

COMPETITIONS

 

Does the Cowboy Theatre Company participate in competitions?

Yes!  We participate in several competitions.  In addition to the UIL One Act Play competition, cast and crew members of the musical also compete in Schmidt & Jones HS Musical Theatre Awards.  The Schmidt & Jones Awards are similar to the Tony’s on Broadway, just at the high school level.  We also compete at the Texas Thespian Festival and sometimes the International Thespian Festival!

 

What is UIL One Act Play (OAP)?

The UIL One-Act Play contest is a competition where similarly-sized Texas schools present an 18-40 minute play and are adjudicated by either a panel of three judges or a single judge.  The contest is held on a single day and open to the public.  There are six possible levels of competition: Zone, District, Bi-District, Area, Region, and State.  At each level of competition, a judge awards individual acting awards as well as selecting three productions to advance to the next level of competition up to the Regional Level where only two will advance to the State Level.  Parents are encouraged to attend and watch the competition.  Currently, our UIL One Act Play cast & crew roles are only open to 10th-12th grade students who have interviewed for and were cast in the In Production class.


 

Why does Coppell High School Theatre attend the Texas Thespian Festival?

The Texas Thespian Festival is an annual convention of high school theatre students which offers professional workshops, hosts competitions and holds college auditions for seniors. The Cowboy Theatre Company selects students to compete in select competitions (both technical and performance) and encourages students to attend as many workshops as they can.  Seniors can also apply for scholarships here!

 

What is an IE?

IE stands for Individual Event, which is one type of competition held at Texas Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival.  Some examples of IEs are monologues, scenes, technical presentations, and songs.

 

ADDITIONAL THEATRICAL CLUBS & SOCIETIES

 

What is Drama Club? 

Drama Club is open to ANY student interested in theatre, not just those in the theatre department.  It has student officers (interviewed and appointed by CHS Theatre Directors) who plan meetings, movie nights, fundraisers, games, and other theatre-inspired activities for Drama Club members.  It meets once a month (typically the first Wednesday of each month).  A student does not need to be an ITS member or in a theatre class to join Drama Club.

 

What is the International Thespian Society (a.k.a. ITS)?

The International Thespian Society is an honor society for high school and middle school theatre students. The ITS sponsors state competitions and workshops for actors and technicians. It also sponsors the International Thespian Festival, which is a national competition and showcase event, and the Texas Thespian Festival, which the Cowboy Theatre Company typically attends and competes at each November. To become a Thespian, a student must earn 10 points, the equivalent of 100 hours of work in the theatre. Those hours can be earned in both the technical and performance side of theatre.

 

Can my child “letter” in theatre arts?

Yes!  When a student has earned induction into the International Thespian Society, we consider them “lettered” in theatre.  At that point, they are eligible to purchase a letter jacket or letter sweater.

 

WHAT THE HECK ARE THESE WORDS/TERMS?

 

What is the difference between THEATRE and THEATER?

Theater = location/venue for watching a performance (movie, play, musical, etc.)

Theatre = the art and craft of studying and performing theatrical arts

 

What is “striking the show”?

Striking the show (also known as “tear down”) happens on a day following the final show of production.  All cast and crew are required to help take down the set, gather props and costumes, and clean backstage areas after the run of the show.
 

What does “off book” mean?

Being “off book” means having all lines memorized and no longer needing to look at the script.  This is an important milestone in a show.

 

What does it mean to “get notes”?

The director gives feedback, corrections and suggestions to an actor on their performance to help them improve. Everyone gets notes, whether performers or technicians. Notes help the production be better and are an important part of the rehearsal process.

 

What is a “call time”?

A “call time” is the actual time a performer or crew member needs to be at the school AND ready to perform (or run tech). “On time is late, early is on time.” 

 

What is a “cue to cue”?

Cue-to-Cue: occurs before the dress rehearsal of a production. This is when the director, tech directors, and stage manager (with the light and sound crew) set light and sound levels. The time is used to ensure that all cues are programmed and written in scripts.  Actors or 'bodies' may be asked to stand in certain areas onstage to ensure that they are properly lit, not standing in dark spots as well as delivering some of their lines to ensure any background noises (ie. thunder) does not overpower the actor's voice. More often than not, a cue-to-cue will take hours to prepare for and is a very long day to get through. All set pieces need to be placed in their proper places to ensure they are properly lit.

What is a “dry” tech run?

First day of tech week when the technicians come in and hold a rehearsal without the actors.

 

What is a “wet” tech run?

This follows a dry tech day but the main focus of the rehearsal is still technical elements with actors present. 

 

What is a “dress rehearsal”?

A dress rehearsal is a performance of the entire production in full costume (including hair and makeup) and with full tech running (sounds, lights, curtains, projections, set, etc). Dress rehearsals take place during Tech Week.

 

What is a “bio sheet”?

Each cast and crew member will write a short statement about their theatre experience to be included in the show program.  Bios can include their grade level, past experiences in theatre and a thank you to parents/friends/directors for their support and time.

 

What is the “fly system,” and what is a “fly”?

A fly system is the rigging that allows curtains and set pieces to move up and down upon the stage as needed.  A fly is a piece of drapery or a scenic item that moves on and off the stage during the course of a show by being dropped and lifted by the rigging from the ceiling.

 

What is “the house”?

The house is the name for the seating area in the auditorium where the audience sits.


 

BOOSTER INFORMATION

 

Who are the Coppell High School Theatre Boosters? 

The Coppell High School Theatre Boosters are a group of volunteer parents who support the student technicians and actors of the Cowboy Theatre Company at CHS/CHS9.  Their membership fees help to provide materials, food, and experiences to the students of the Cowboy Theatre Company, and their volunteer time helps during set build days and performances.  They are an integral part of our department!

 

How can I become a Booster member?

Go to CoppellHSTheatre.com, click the “BOOSTERS” tab at the top of the page, and then click the red button that says “Join the Coppell High School Theatre Boosters Here!” and fill out the form, then pay on our Square site (link provided at the end of the form).  Being a Booster is the best way to show your support for Coppell High School Theatre and the Cowboy Theatre Company. Every family can choose a level of membership that fits their family’s needs! 

 

How can I volunteer?

There is ALWAYS something to be done and MANY ways to help.  The theatre department relies on parents to help with ticket sales, delivering merchandise purchases, manning the box office, selling concessions, donating snacks and drinks for concessions, donating towards providing meals for cast and crew during Tech Week and set builds, fundraising, selling merchandise and much more.  ALL HELP IS APPRECIATED!  Reach out to any of the directors (Karen Ruth, Lauren Holt, or Austin Aschbrenner) or the Coppell High School Theatre Booster President, Kari Myers, at presidentCHSTB2020@gmail.com if you’d like to get involved!

 

FUNDRAISERS

 

What is the Silent Auction and why is it held each year?

The Silent Auction is the largest Cowboy Theatre Company fundraiser of the year, and is run by the Coppell High School Theatre Boosters.  Proceeds from the auction are the main source of booster funds used to help pay for that year’s musical.  This event includes donated items/services from our community members that Coppell High School Theatre parents can bid on to win, and the evening is typically punctuated by a variety show performed by the students, as well as a sneak preview of the musical.  It can be held either at the high school or offsite, and includes a catered dinner.  We rely on Booster help to set up and run the auction!

 

What are Broadway Babes T-Shirts?

Broadway Babes is a fall fundraiser where theatre students sell personalized Comfort Colors t-shirts to support the Cowboy Theatre Company.  Each year, a new design and t-shirt color is chosen from student submissions.  All students in advanced theatre classes (Take One, Broadway Bound, Studio Premier, Fame, In Production, and Advanced Technical Theatre) are required to participate in this fundraiser, and there is a prize for the class and the student that sells the most t-shirts!

CONTACT US

Coppell High School

185 West Parkway Blvd, TX 75019

Tel: 214-496-6100

This website is owned and maintained by the Coppell HS Theatre Boosters. This website is not sanctioned, affiliated or supported by Coppell ISD or its schools. Furthermore, this website may contain links to other websites which are independently run. Coppell HS Theatre and Theatre  Boosters is not responsible for the privacy practices, activities, or content of such independent sites and applications.

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