On the surface, rehearsals might seem like the time when you can play around, not take things so seriously and generally take a more relaxed approach to the show you’re eventually going to be acting in, especially when it’s early on. In reality, rehearsals are critically important to shaping a show and bringing it to a quality standard.
Perhaps the most crucial thing that needs to happen during rehearsals is for the director’s vision to come to life, which means every actor and stagehand needs to be on the same page. Speaking of pages, it always helps to learn your lines as quickly as possible. Not only does it mean you’ll have more confidence in your own performance (as well as inspiring more confidence from your peers) but it allows for rehearsals to develop and flow more smoothly, since you’re not carrying around a script in every scene. It frees your hands, enabling you to properly start experimenting with your performance. That feeling when you realise you know your lines and no longer need your script is very liberating and always exciting.
It always helps to be punctual. It really helps if you can make it to every rehearsal that you’re required for. Obviously you might not always be needed for every single rehearsal based on the size of the role and sometimes life gets in the way and circumstances can’t always be helped, but making sure to attend most, if not all, rehearsals necessary is something that will only help. It makes everything harder when somebody is missing from rehearsals.
Having a lot of patience and a strong sense of discipline are also extremely helpful. A lot of the time, you’ll be sitting on the sidelines and waiting for your chance to perform. Use this time to familiarise yourself with the script and what other actors might be doing whilst they perform. Do not, however tempting it may be, use this time to socialise and goof around with other actors who aren’t currently performing. It can be distracting for those who are trying to rehearse and is inconsiderate towards your fellow actors.
Like with anything, this old piece of conventional wisdom is extremely poignant: practice makes perfect.
A large percentage of the work you do as an actor is memorisation and the repetition helps with that tremendously. Repeatedly speaking your lines and going through your movements in conjunction with each other will start to make everything sync up and stick in your memory. You’ll remember that you say line X when you’re over in this spot by the table and so on. And of course, as we’ve discussed above, the more fluent you are in your performance, the more smoothly things will progress for the overall rehearsal process and ultimately, the show itself.
Never underestimate the importance of rehearsing thoroughly and getting things right at an early point in time.
Do you have an opinion to share about your experience of rehearsals or the process of bringing a production to the stage?