We all want to make the best use of precious rehearsal time. Dealing with school calendar conflicts such as “Wednesday family night,” Tuesday/Friday/whatever-day athletic games, music concerts, and other “sacred” times when we can’t schedule a rehearsal, coupled with individual actor or crew schedule conflicts, all make every rehearsal day and minute critical. Use the time wisely.
Here are some thoughts that may help you make the most of precious time.
I tell company members that School is Job #1. Everyone needs to be sure school work is done and done well. Stressing over grades will make it harder to be at one’s best. And if the school has a grade eligibility requirement to practice or perform, poor grades can hurt the entire company and show.
It’s simple. Early is on time. On time is late.
Have experienced company members lead warmups. It’s fun, it helps develop leadership, and it gives you the director a few minutes for the many details that need attention as rehearsals begin—talking individually to the SM, actor or crew member, fixing a light, watching how committed cast members are, and more.
As conversations start, and they will, noise levels go up and you have to get attention. Try this simple call and response. You, Director, call out loudly, “Hey everybody!” All that hear answer loudly, “Hey what?” And all get quiet immediately. Time to listen now!
Giving rehearsal notes
It’s tough for all to sit and listen to everybody’s notes, but notes are necessary. As a director I wanted to watch carefully, capture notes, and get them distributed as efficiently as possible. So that I could focus on rehearsal and not on writing a legible note, I started having one or two assistants keep a sheet for each actor and crew for their notes. I dictated, assistant transcribed. Be sure to indicate just WHERE in the scene this applies. “Louder” or “don’t draw attention,” etc., with no indication of the scene or page isn’t very helpful. Then hand out notes at the end of the rehearsal. Now all the cast doesn’t have to listen to all the individual notes. “See me about…” is useful for times when more explanation is needed. Always tell company members if they don’t understand to ask.
Do take time for “Everybody” notes. That’s when you get whole group instruction time. DO give positive notes as well. Some written, some for the entire group. That public pat on the back can be so important, especially when you have worked with an actor or crew on something that just isn’t working and finally does. They’ve all seen the work. Let everyone know you recognize and praise improvement.
Make the best of the time you have. Break a leg.
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