Author Topic: Live Animals Onstage.  (Read 1832 times)

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ChandlerJJ

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Live Animals Onstage.
« on: Jan 12, 2013, 09:40 am »
I am working on the Production of The Wiz and this is the first time the Theatre Company is going to have a live dog onstage and I was wondering are there any tricks to get a dog to run onstage to a point and stop or run across the stage?

MatthewShiner

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Re: Live Animals Onstage.
« Reply #1 on: Jan 12, 2013, 01:43 pm »
It really, really depends on the dog and the training.

But most dogs are food driven, and you can do with treat placement, actors with treats in their hands, etc, etc.

Animals are unpredictable.
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leastlikely

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Re: Live Animals Onstage.
« Reply #2 on: Jan 12, 2013, 03:24 pm »
When I had a dog onstage, he entered chasing an actor. So the actor would play with him backstage with a dog toy (I think it was actually a cat toy... a ball with a little jingle bell in it. Tiny tiny dog.) and get the dog interested in the toy, and then run on and drop the ball, and in theory the dog would go to the ball.

It almost never worked. So what I mean to say is, don't just accept the pet of a cast member who says "I'm sure it'll be fine," because it won't be fine, and when you hit the pin spot that's supposed to isolate the dog, he won't be in his place and the entire gag will be ruined. And then, because your producer didn't want to hire a dog handler, the director will be in the dressing room at every. single. performance. Which is even worse than the joke not landing. Sooooo....

Use training treats (small, usually soft treats, they're a 1-bite thing so the dog won't get full on them and won't make a mess eating them) or individual pieces of kibble, and make sure you have a good trainer/handler on staff.

MatthewShiner

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Re: Live Animals Onstage.
« Reply #3 on: Jan 12, 2013, 04:24 pm »
Yes, let's be clear - for the dog's safety, the cast's safety and your sanity - there should be a dog wrangler. 

And ideally, a dog trainer.
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pyromnt

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Re: Live Animals Onstage.
« Reply #4 on: Jan 12, 2013, 04:35 pm »
The last time I have worked with a live animal for a show was with Pippin and we had it handed to the lead offstage. Whenever he put it down, it didn't do what we wanted

Obviously that won't work if the animal has to run. Maybe a laser pointer? Or some dog food on the other side?

Live animals are such a variable, I would avoid using a cast member's animal, if you have a budget you could try to get a professionally trained dog
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catalinacisne

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Re: Live Animals Onstage.
« Reply #5 on: Jan 12, 2013, 04:42 pm »
All dogs are motivated by different things, the big trick is to find out what motivates your specific dog, and then practice about 17 million times. I've worked with a dog who was absolutely crazy for basketballs, so we incorporated a basketball into the play so the dog would always stay engaged. Another dog (puppy, really) would not stay onstage for the duration of the song that we needed him onstage for, so we added business where the actress fed the dog before singing - we mixed his kibble with peanut butter which slowed down how fast he could eat, so he stayed by his bowl the whole number. Find out what the dog absolutely loves, and incorporate that into the show.

For running across the stage from one wing to the other, whoever is catching the dog should be in the dog's sightlines and have either their favorite toy or treats the dog can see.

For running onstage and stopping, it is possible to "mark" train a dog,  but it is time consuming and not practical if you don't have a dedicated trainer. Much simpler to have the dog run to a specific person.

With all the being said, no matter how much you practice, the first week of performances the dog will never do what it is supposed to do, because OMG there's people out there let me smell them!!!

 

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