Or How to Have a Successful Rehearsal for Your Play
So you got the part? Congratulations! Now what? For many new actors, the first rehearsal can be just as nerve racking as an audition. You will more than likely be working with other actors that you have never met. Some will be more experienced than you, which can be even more intimidating. You may find that there are personalities that you may not click with outside of the rehearsal environment. You also have the added stress of wanting the director to be happy that she/he cast you in her/his play, and you want her/him to remember you and cast you in other productions.
Here are some dos and don’ts to not only make the rehearsal process great for you, but also for the other actors, the director, and the play as a whole. It will also free you up to actually work on your character!
DO be honest about your schedule. While you really want this role, if you make promises you can’t or won’t keep, it will be remembered the next time the director thinks about casting you in another project.
DO show up on time!
DON’T direct other actors or give your input as to how they should play their character. This is a very big no-no and requires repeating; do not direct other actors or give your input as to how they should play their character! There is one director. Keep the focus on your character. If you are serious about your acting, you will have more than enough to do, no matter how big or small your part.
DO bring something to the table to work with. During many first day rehearsals, the cast usually sits and reads through the play together. You do not need to give an award winning performance during this time, as of course this may be your first time reading the whole script, especially as a full cast. But do have some thoughts about what you are reading. In other words, read not only your part, but make sure you listen to what the story is about, what are the main conflicts of the story, and how your character fits into moving that story/conflict along
DO learn your lines. No one likes to work with someone who learns their lines at the last possible minute. It’s hard to trust actors like that. Aside from being unprofessional, it’s stressful to other actors who have to be on stage with you. Normally the director will let everyone know when they have to be “off book”. This refers to the date that you are expected to rehearse without that script in your hand. The first time everyone is off book you and others will undoubtedly stumble over some lines. That is natural. But everyone can tell when you just don’t know your lines and you are faking it. No one should be afraid of what is going to come out of your mouth from night to night.
DO your homework. Aside from learning your lines, rehearsal is not just during the scheduled hours with the rest of the cast. Those rehearsals are for everyone. While not in the scheduled rehearsal you should be rereading the play, learning the background of your character and learning about the things your character does. Even if you are on stage for only two ten minute scenes, you will have a lot to work with. And it will show when you arrive at your next rehearsal the next time that you do the scene. You don’t have to come in and give the director a diatribe of what you are working on, it will show in your scene work and will provide the director with something to work with.
DON’T take anything personally. If the director wants you to do something or “play” the character another way, don’t run to the restroom crying about how bad you are. That is the rehearsal process. At least you brought some work to the table. Just take the direction, and do it well. Don’t argue your point. If you see another way, do the directors way first. Ask if you can show her/him something else as well. If she/he prefers it her/his way, do it.
DON’T talk about another actor’s work to anyone. It will get back. If you find that someone is not as talented as you would like them to be, keep it to yourself. If you feel that you are not getting enough from another actor in a scene that you are in, make it your characters business to make it work. Let the director work that out.
DO listen. If you are talking, you might miss something important.
DO write down your blocking (even when you think you can remember it).
DO write down your notes (even when you think you can remember them).
DO take direction ONLY from the Director or Artistic Team. If someone else gives you direction smile and say thank you, but continue doing what the director has asked you to do.
DO perform every rehearsal … you will be tired, but try your best to perform as if you have an audience.
DO watch and listen. You never know what you can learn.
And, most importantly DO have fun!