Author Topic: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?  (Read 3429 times)

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Maribeth

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ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« on: Jun 03, 2016, 06:45 pm »
Anyone done shows with live birds in them before? What was your experience like?

SMAshlee

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 04, 2016, 02:16 pm »
I did a show at SeaWorld with live birds which is rather different from traditional theatre.

How do you plan on using the birds? What type of bird? In a cage on stage the whole time? Is the intention to have them fly through the house/across stage?

Maribeth

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 09, 2016, 10:59 am »
We have an expert coming today to teach us how to handle the birds. They are either in a cage or being held by an actor throughout- no flying intended. I was just curious what others' experiences had been like. Did they make a lot of noise, make escape attempts, Did you have to switch out birds because they got stressed out, etc.

SMAshlee

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 09, 2016, 04:30 pm »
When working with any type of animal, it's always good to have a backup plan. I'm a firm believer in creating a relationship between the animal and the person(s) who will be handling them on stage. They all have their own personalities and making sure they are comfortable in the environment is key.

One of the shows I did had a few macaws that flew over the crowd in a loop. The team had several, so not all of them were used for every show. This was an outdoor show so they had lots of height over the audience and noise was not an issue.

I also did a show in a small traditional theatre space that had an umbrella cockatoo named Susie. Susie loved meeting new people. During rehearsal one day, I was sitting in the house and Susie decided halfway through her short loop through the house to land on my head instead. Once Susie and I had met, I couldn't sit in the house during the show, I had to stand off to one side, out of her flight path. Ha! As for noise, she would sing backstage so we had a cover for her cage. She was also not a fan of the boa constrictor and would squawk if she saw it so they were kept on opposite sides of the stage. (It doesn't sound like this will be an issue for you.)

Please report back on your experience!

smejs

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 10, 2016, 02:42 pm »
I had a live duck in a show, which really isn't similar at all to what you're describing. It was not very friendly, and I was the one in charge of bringing it to the stage every day. The other crew knew I was coming as he loudly quacked his way down the hallway on our arrival. He had his own (dry) baby pool it knew was his offstage, and loved that. We had a water-filled moat onstage, and prior to being filled, he would jump in it every time (which was not the plan). We got worried what would happen when we put blue-tinted water in it - would we end up with a blue-tinted duck? - but he actually avoided that water like the plague once it was in.

He did get loose one time while I was retrieving him (he was not supposed to be able to fly, but we'd had him around long enough his feathers had gotten longer or something), and headed towards ours cabaret/dining space. In hindsight, I really wish I had caught him while yelling out, "You! Back to the kitchen!" That said, I was incredibly afraid he was going to fly into the glass windows and break his neck. We had no backup duck - though he was only used in a prologue and probably could've been adjusted. In fact, somehow the original (new) script had called for a pig and we had it changed to a duck at some point.....don't ask me.

Totally separate, my husband the stagehand had an incredibly lovable pet duck as a child. It even took trips to the A&W root beer stand with them and got his own snacks. We have two photos on our shelf...me with the psycho duck and him with his childhood pal. Makes me smile every time.

BilOregon

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BenTheStageMan

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #6 on: Jun 20, 2016, 04:22 pm »
I have a choreographer I've worked with a few times who tells a tall tail about a chicken which was with her in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."  They had two chickens, the primary and an understudy, which both lived in the same cage.  One night, the primary chicken was sick and unable to perform, so the understudy chicken went on.  The next day when they came in, the understudy chicken had been pecked to death by the primary.  They decided it was jealous that the understudy stole the limelight!
So, moral of the story, keep your birds in separate cages, and don't let them get jealous of each other.  Maybe schedule some team building and encourage open, honest communication.
"Show people are doomed!  Doomed to a life of booze...and pills...and heavy meals late at night!" -Judy, "Ruthless!"

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Maribeth

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #7 on: Jul 14, 2016, 11:49 am »
Well, we've been up and running for a week. The birds have been doing well- they are canaries. They started out in the same cage and got along well, but a few weeks in started squabbling with each other, so we got separate cages. We also got them a heat lamp because the temperature of the office they "live" in was not quite warm enough for them.

In rehearsals, we had the actors handle the birds every other day, to slowly build their comfort level and let the birds become comfortable with people handling them. We started in a small office, so that the birds would be easier to catch if they got loose. :) We did have some issues with them being especially "chirpy" during rehearsals for a week or so, but it resolved itself when we moved to stage.

The birds actually do pretty well onstage- the combined darkness of the theatre and the warmth of the stage lighting suits them. They are only onstage for the early part of the show, and then they are returned to their "home". If they are in total darkness, like in a covered cage, they assume it is night and go to sleep.

Of course, we have a backup plan for them, in case there is ever a day that they are not able to perform for any reason. They definitely have their own personalities- it's very apparent!

Maribeth

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #8 on: Jul 31, 2016, 09:34 pm »
I'm pleased to report that we closed today, and had no major bird-related incidents during the run. My biggest fear was that the birds would get loose in the theatre during the show!! Both birds are healthy and happily retired from the business.

KMC

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Re: ANIMALS: Birds onstage?
« Reply #9 on: Aug 01, 2016, 01:45 am »
It's great to hear your show did not morph into a Hitchcock film  ;D
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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