In our last blog, we talked about what being a Stage Kitten or Stage Panda meant to the Burlesque community. Today I thought I’d talk about how to be the best damn Stage Kitten or Panda (KP) you can be! After all, who wants to be a mediocre KP? Not me! (And I certainly wouldn’t want to hire one, either).
Being a Stage Kitten or Stage Panda is more than just strutting around on stage in your knickers (though there is definitely some of that, too). It takes confidence, creativity, knowledge, and a whole lot of humor.
So here are my top ten tips on being the very best Stage Kitten or Panda you can be!
1. Be confident. Confidence is key for most stage performances, but for a Kitten or Panda, it’s especially important. Not only will you be dealing with the technical aspects of the stage, but you will be interacting with performers and the audience, so it’s critical that you be able to let the crazy stuff roll off and let your personality shine.
2. Be professional. Obviously, no one wants to work with someone who is unprofessional … duh … but as a key part of a Burlesque show (yes, a Kitten and Panda are essential, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), you will be dealing with a lot more than just costume changes. Don’t expect to be hand-held through this position because so much will be going on, all at once, and the last thing a stage manager wants to deal with is another whiney performer (no offense out there).
3. Be ready. This job, whether it is paid or not, will require you to be ready for craziness. Make sure you are checking with the stage manager and performers for call times, ready times, or any random thing. When the shit hits the fan, the cast and crew might turn to you to help out, even before the actual show. This means you will need to check your emails and texts, communicate with your contacts, and for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT FLAKE!
4. Be mindful. You should expect to be present for the entire tech rehearsal and make sure you are taking notes about what needs to go where (for props) and what will be taken off on stage (aka what will you need to pick up and return to the performer). You’d be surprised to learn how far a garter can really fly when you are responsible for retrieving it.
5. Be approachable. You need to be approachable as a Stage Kitten or Stage Panda, and more importantly, you can’t be afraid to approach others! You will need to introduce yourself to just about everyone, especially the stage manager, lighting team, Emcee, and obviously the performers so you know what they expect of you, too. And if you are part of a team of kittens, make sure you are all communicating with each other so you don’t fight over who picks up thongs vs. feathers.
6. Be aware. A lot can happen in a live show. A lot. I’m not saying it’s up to you to keep the show running, but you might get called upon to troubleshoot at literally any moment, so be ready (see above). Here are some crazy (true) examples of what you might find yourself addressing:
- Rogue clothing flying off into the audience
- Audience members moving stuff (yes, it actually happens)
- A performer getting sick backstage and you needing to tell the Emcee to stall
- Backstage costume malfunctions that could use your assistance
The point is, don’t run away and keep on your toes so you can be available to help in a pinch.
7. Be knowledgeable. You don’t have to have a degree in Theatre, but it could help to know the difference between upstage and downstage. If a performer is asking you to place their chair stage left, it might be good to know what the heck that is! If you need some help or a refresher, check out Miss F-Bomb’s Basic Theater Terminology blog.
8. Be prepared. I’m sorry to say, but you will probably be in charge of your own hair, makeup, and wardrobe, so it’s important to have these things prepared in advance. Make sure you communicate with the stage manager and understand whether or not you will be expected to arrive already dressed and ready, or if you will have a time and place to get ready backstage. Often the backstage area is so chaotic that you might even prefer to get ready at home. In addition, you may have certain requirements to meet with regards to attire, so ask the producers or directors if they need you in a specific color, style, or animal … whatever!
9. Be in character. Technically, your main job is to set and clean the stage, but Burlesque is anything but boring! As a Stage Kitten or Panda, you will be expected to act and interact with the props, the performers, and yes, the people attending! Check in with the hosts, producers, and directors and find some inspiration you can pull from or a persona you can create to really pull the entire show together! Sometimes, the Stage Kitten or Panda can truly make ALL the difference!
10. Be fun! Being a Stage Kitten or Panda is supposed to be fun, so be fun! If you dread your time on stage, believe me, everyone will notice! I cannot stress enough how incredibly liberating, exciting, and hilarious being a Stage Panda or Kitten can be, so embrace that! Embrace every part, from the backstage experience to the costumes, from the thrills to the chaos, and have an incredible time. In the end, that is what makes an incredible KP!
If you are looking for ways into the Burlesque community, reach out to us! We would love to share our experiences or point you in a direction that makes sense for you: firstname.lastname@example.org