Posted on: 18 June 2015
Many of the plays that hit the stages in multiple community theaters during the summer have one thing in common: they are all period pieces. Most popular of all of these productions are murder mysteries or comedies, but almost always there is at least one character that lights up a cigarette. When you cast an actor or actress in a role and he or she does not smoke but the character does, that presents a problem. The other problem is that theaters will not allow cigarettes or combustible materials on stage without expensive licensing. To avoid both of these issues but remain true to the show, there is an excellent modern solution: electronic cigarettes.
Making Electronic Cigarettes Look Real
Because the e-cigarette (available from companies like Vapoligy) does not combust or require a lighter, your props person will have to make the e-cigs look like the real deal. It is not difficult in the least to paint the vaporizers to look like cigarettes from the period the show portrays. Your set painter or set artist will have to work his or her magic on the paint job, and then your props person can teach the actor or actress how to handle the e-cig so that it looks like a real cigarette. Also, the actor/actress should hold the e-cig in the upstage hand because then the nearest audience members will not be able to tell if it is real or feigned.
"Lighting" the E-Cig on the Stage
The e-cig should be filled and ready to switch on while on stage. Another actor/actress can assist with a "smoke and mirrors" moment, offering to help with a lighter that is held just a centimeter shy of the end of the e-cig and covering the flame with one hand. This disguises the movements necessary to turn on th e-cig onstage. With the first draw on the e-cig, your actor/actress can fake the rest, making it appear as though he or she is actually smoking, when he/she is only "vaping".
Putting out the E-Cig When the Character Has "Finished" Smoking
There are a couple of ways to "put out" an e-cig during each night of the show's run. The first is to have the character walk out of the scene or the room with the e-cig and turn it off backstage. The second is to have an old-fashioned smokeless ashtray on the set and place it near the "smoking" character. Even if a fire marshall attends your show, the placement of the "combustible" substance into a smokeless ashtray decreases the odds that your show will be interrupted for unlicensed combustibles onstage.Share