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There’s nothing quite like the anxiety and panic you feel when you realize your rehearsals are behind-schedule or off-track. Perhaps you had to cancel a few practices, got lax with start times, or got fixated on a certain scene and lost sight of the bigger picture. Before you head into melt-down mode, it is possible to get your cast and crew back on track – and stay there – before opening night.
Hope isn’t lost! Try the following to get back into the groove:
No great work will get done if you’re frazzled, impatient, or angry. Make sure, as the leader of your production, that you’re in a calm headspace before making any major adjustments to your rehearsals.
Before you revamp your rehearsals, run through your show – or as much as you’ve rehearsed thus far. Take special note of scenes, actors, or technical elements that need polishing or are pretty great as-is. Make a detailed list, and an agenda, determining what needs work and what can wait.
Perhaps your vocal arrangements are a little shaky, your technical elements are out of whack, or people keep forgetting portions of that complicated dance sequence in Act II. Find your weakest scenes and ensure those are your first priority.
Maybe you’ve let breaks go on longer than they should, or have allowed yourself to chat too much with the cast and crew between scenes. Make sure you evaluate those time-wasters as you adjust and include them in your revamp.
You’re likely so lost in a creative hailstorm that you’ve forgotten to focus on the building blocks. Take a rehearsal to go back to basics – honing in on pacing, enunciation, volume, and general actor motivation/stage presence. Once your cast has a practice to get those foundations solid, things will run smoother.
If you find your actors or stagehands are giving sloppy or uninspired performances, give them a bit of homework. Encourage mental run throughs – where the team runs through the whole show in their minds before bed or during a meditation. Have them imagine every last piece of the show going perfectly. Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking!
This may be the perfect suggestion for leaders who feel they’re running out of bandwidth. If your cast and crew are willing and able, assign them specific roles before, during, and after rehearsals – whether that’s leading warm-ups, cleaning up backstage, organizing costumes, or helping with social media marketing. If you have others picking up some slack, you can focus on running smooth and organized rehearsals.
A surefire way to ensure no time is being wasted at rehearsals is by splitting them up by category. Perhaps some rehearsals will focus solely on vocals, while others delve into dancing, blocking, or tech. Ensure only those actors and crew members that need to be involved are there – saving people time and offering less distractions.
Once you’ve got a set list of priorities, make sure your cast and crew know it’s go-time. Convey the importance of arriving on time to rehearsals, as well as moving efficiently between scenes to keep on-schedule.
Your warm-ups should be quick, efficient, and routine, whether they’re for vocals, character development, or dancing. Ample time can be wasted if you’re not ready to go from minute one.
As the leader of a production, the attitude you bring to rehearsals will permeate throughout the cast and crew. Make sure you’re good-natured, patient, but firm during rehearsals. Don’t expect perfection, but rather, expect dedication.
When you draw closer to opening night, consider filming a dress rehearsal or full run-through. Plan time to have your entire cast and crew watch the show back, having them write down what can be improved. Go over notes after.
Round up friends, community partners, or other creatives to act as a preview audience for your show. This can provide a lot of benefits – including reality checks for cast members who aren’t taking things seriously, as well as a way to shake off performance jitters for your anxious actors.
The end of rehearsal can often drag on forever if you aren’t prepared to give notes and reflections quickly. Remember that your cast and crew have lives outside the theatre; respect their time, and they’ll respect yours. This means ending rehearsals on time and keeping notes concise and specific. If you have detailed notes for specific actors or crew members, save them until the end and dismiss the others before.
If you’ve got the feeling that your to-do list is still a mile long, On The Stage can help take some of the weight off your shoulders. The all-in-one Theatre Producer’s Planner with bonus worksheets will help make your production feel more organized in no time.
After all, it’s vital to the success of your production that you and your team remain organized – which is why this planner acts as a resource for everyone involved, from producers and directors to actors, techies, and crew members. Come tech week, an organized planner at your fingertips will feel heaven-sent.
Download the free handbook today to get started, or book a personalized demo with an On The Stage expert. Happy planning!