The Gift of Exploration, Discovery and Realization
I LOVE REHEARSALS.
Sometimes I need the Director to remind me that we have an opening date to keep in mind and at some point we'll need to have confidence that what we've explored and created during the rehearsal process is more than enough, but still, I LOVE REHEARSALS.
To me, rehearsals are like being in the playground during recess when we were kids. I remember running from the swing set to the slides to the ball field to the tree house to the jungle gym. I remember chasing the girls and playing tag with the boys. I recall falling down on the grass and staining my clothes. I remember the laughter, the love, the life and the wonder of playtime. I discovered so much about myself. I learned my limitations, my fears, my desires, my joys, my skills, my purpose.
Rehearsals should be like that, too. Rehearsals should be a cherished time of wonderment and discovery. Yes, you ultimately have a deadline and an opening night you are working toward, but that journey to the performance should be paved with exploration, discovery and realization.
Your job as an actor is to arrive at rehearsals prepared. Playtime does not give you permission to be unprepared. You should respect the Producer, the Director, your fellow cast, the script writer, the entire crew and you should arrive every day to rehearsal ready to explore as a true professional artist regardless if the production is a local community theater show or a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie.
You should be familiar enough with your lines that you can be mentally, emotionally and physically present so that you can avoid having your nose buried in the script. It's the connections with the other actors that brings the script to life, not your connection to the paper that the lines are printed on.
You should have ideas and questions about the character, the relationships and the circumstances. You should have ideas of what is going on, but you should ALWAYS be open to making new discoveries and you should always explore what the Director asks of you. You just never know what you'll learn by saying yes to the exploration.
If all you're doing at rehearsals is coming in to validate and lock-in your predetermined concepts, and you are not open to stumbling upon new discoveries to lead you to new realizations, then you've distorted the rehearsal process into a pre-planned presentation preparation time and that will result in an underwhelming experience for the audience.
You must be open to be pushed and pulled by the Director's vision and requests.
You must be vulnerable and affectable so you can truly connect to your scene partner and to the material.
Rehearsals should be littered with more questions than answers, until such time as the Director and the cast all believe that the questions that have been asked and the answers that have been found have been scrutinized from every angle and what you have landed on is more than enough to tell the story with integrity.
Here are some principles that I follow for my rehearsals that I hope help you in some small way:
Preparation starts at home, long before you even leave to go to the rehearsal
Arrive early and get yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for the rehearsal
Review the Director's notes from past rehearsals to remind yourself of what was requested of you
Walk around the set to allow the world of the piece to penetrate your body
Help set up the stage - this gets you connected to the space and the world of the play in a very personal way
Make a choice of what you wish to accomplish or explore at the rehearsal so you are focused and can reflect back on your work through a specific, not a general, lens
Get up on your feet and move
Get off-book quickly
Get the props in your hands as soon as possible (Acting is doing. Acting is not talking)
Get into your costume as early as possible so you can discover the body of the character
Play with purpose and intent
Be humble, professional and helpful
Take time to emotionally prepare before the scene so you are living truthfully under the emotional circumstances of the scene
Help clean up at the end - show respect to the space as well as to the others in the production
Review the night's rehearsals before you go to sleep
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I hope this post has inspired you in some small way. I look forward to reading your comments.
Bye for now and Stay Safe My Fellow Travelers.
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