How to Make your Rehearsal Room Positive and Productive

by | Sep 14, 2020

I’ve worked with a lot of differnet groups of both amateur and professional theatre makers, actors, creative teams and stage management. It’s always a juggling act to run rehearsals in a way which best serves all these groups of people and the production. However, here are some tips that can help you do just that.

Why is it important for rehearsals to be positive and productive?

Having a rehearsal room with smiling, happy people in it one hundred percent of the time isn’t always possible. However, it’s certainly a good thing to aim for. Rehearsals can be and immensely fulfilling and positive experience for all involved. They’re the part of the process i enjoy the most as a director. Playing around with ideas, collaborating with other artists and team members. It’s exciting times – and if you can carry this atmosphere of excitement through to the technical rehearsals it can really keep up moral if things are long and/or tiring (which they invariably are!)

Scheduling

  • Produce a clear rehearsal schedule detailing when each indivdual will be reuqired to attend rehearsals.
  • Try and be efficient with your times in order that cast are used for as long as possible and not sitting around due to bad scheduling.
  • Try and work around any reasonable cast N/As (not-availables) as possible.
  • Publish the schedule as far in advance as possible to help people plan their lives around rehearsals.
  • State early on that a commitment to rehearsal times is important and ask anybody who doesn’t adhere to this why that is the case and how they might be able to improve attendance in future. This shows the whole cast that you are giving and requesting respect from cast and crew.
  • Use rehearsal times as you have stated in the schedule you will. Actors and crew will have prepared things for these times, so if you choose to do something different (except for in circumstances where this can’t be avoided) is disrespectful to them.

Giving Direction

  • Work hard to help actors feel comfortable in the space. Be supportive and work on encouraging direction and not pushing people down.
  • Take any actors’ concerns seriously and spend the time talking it through to understand their perspective.
  • Don’t be afraid to give direction – good actors are always keen to take on direction and want to be guided by you.
  • Be sensitive about giving direction in front of other actors. It’s not always appropriate, and can make the actor recieving the direction uncomfortable.

Notes and Running

  • Try and bring the notion of running the show into the rehearsal room as early as possible, even if it’s a very rough sketch of the final piece. It is so helpful to cast and crew to be aware of how the show is taking place and can highlight usefully sections that need more work, or lines that need learning etc.
  • Give positive and encouraging notes after a run as concisely as possible. I find that giving notes from the perspective of the audience is really helpful.
  • Check in advance how best to give notes to indivudals – eg. some actors will prefer an email outlining thoughts and then a chat, others will prefer a face-to-face conversation.
  • Keep a note of notes you have given in the past in case they continue to be unresolved. Look back on them before a run of the piece.

I hope these tips will help you to implement a more efficient and friendly rehearsal room, resulting in a production with more coheision and a good atmosphere backstage. If you have any thoughts on the above, I’d love to hear them – get in touch with me!

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