Making the Most Out of the Rehearsal Process
You’ve made it! After all the research, preparation, and that butterfly-inducing audition, you’ve been cast in a show. Celebrate! What comes next is an exciting journey as you and your fellow castmates dive into the often challenging and extensive—yet rewarding—rehearsal process, and you will want to make the most of it. This month, I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to get you organized and ready to commence what may well be the most important period in a show’s development.
Tip #1: Pack a Rehearsal Bag
My own rehearsal bag at the moment!
The rehearsal period can be a quite exhausting and labor-intensive period, no matter if you’re playing the starring role or Servant Girl #3. Keeping hydrated, healthy, organized, and prepared at all times is key, but also a fair bit of work in and of itself. The best way I’ve found to maintain my sanity and well-being during rehearsal is to be proactive and pack what I like to call a rehearsal bag. This handy-dandy bag is now your go-to for all things theatre before, after, and during rehearsal, so make sure you pick something cute and functional. In your bag of choice, store your script, a pencil, a printed copy of the show schedule, a water bottle, a quick snack like a banana or granola bar, and any additional items you might need, such as sheet music or dance shoes. Most likely, you will not be onstage the entirety of the rehearsal, so remember to grab a book or some homework to complete while you wait. Then, once you have your bag prepped and ready, place it near your front door so you can grab it easily on your way out to rehearsal. Be sure to occasionally restock it as you run out of supplies. It’s as simple as that!
Tip #2: Study Up!
Treat the rehearsal and performance period as a test that you need to study for. For most people (myself included), acting isn’t effortless, nor should it be treated as such. Study hard, and spend some time with your character in and outside of rehearsal. Create a backstory, a motivation, a family tree–anything that helps breathe life into the words on the page. (This is especially fun with minor characters, as you’re free to let the imagination run wild!) Once you have a better understanding of the character, you will feel more comfortable stepping into their shoes onstage and creating an outstanding and honest performance for all to see.
Note-taking is an equally important method in preparing for the show. Even before the first rehearsal takes place, make sure to write your name on your script and highlight or sticky-tab the scenes in which you appear. Then, as the rehearsal period progresses, continue writing additional notes concerning your blocking (where your character enters, exits, and moves), delivery, characterization, and any general reminders the director gives at the end of the day. The more specific you make these notes, the more likely you are to remember what you meant later on and more quickly implement the instructions. Just make sure to write everything in pencil! The director will probably change things multiple times as rehearsal goes on, so be sure to frequently update your notes.
Tip #3: Have Fun and Experiment
When an audience comes to see a show, all they will get to see and remember is a hopefully fantastic night of entertainment. But the part you’re most likely to remember? All the planning, tweaking, and practicing that took place weeks earlier by the cast and crew. So make the rehearsal process fun! Get to know your fellow actors and actresses, talk to the stage manager, and explore the theatre itself. You might make a few life-long friends, or at the very least enhance your onstage interactions. Additionally, don’t be afraid of experimentation. Analyze your acting choices and put a new spin on them; for example, try adding mannerisms, a different word emphasis, or even an accent. Of course, discuss your techniques with the director and follow their instructions and vision for the show. Nonetheless, definitely don’t miss your opportunity to learn and grow as an actor just because you’re too afraid of looking silly or making a mistake. That’s what the rehearsal process is for, after all!
And that’s a wrap! These are just a few strategies I’ve learned to hopefully give you a head start on the rehearsal process next time you’re in a show. If you have any tips or ideas of your own you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment below!