At the end of rehearsals, artistic team members (directors, musical directors, choreographers, etc.) will often give notes, which are messages to the cast and crew to change or improve a specific aspect of their performance or job. The artistic team will use notes to refine and polish the appearance of the show. It’s often one of the aspect of theatre that actors and crew members dislike; after all, who wants to sit there and listen to someone critique the performance they just did? But it’s important to look at notes in a positive context!
Think about it this way — actors, you can’t see what you’re doing onstage. You may think what you’re doing is looking amazing, but you might not actually be conveying what you’re intending to… or you might just look strange and awkward. True story — during a rehearsal of The Rocky Horror Show, I had just gotten my amazing new “Trannie” high heels, and I was feeling fiiiiiiine… until my director showed me an iPhone photo of myself standing like a weird, gangly spider-girl. That was an eye-opening experience!
Your artistic team wants you to look and perform your absolute best, so please be sure to pay attention and listen carefully to all notes given, no matter how tired you are after rehearsal or how eager you are to go home. Please don’t roll your eyes when you receive a note — your director isn’t picking on you; they’re trying to make your performance even better. And please, please be sure to write your notes down in your script and actually USE the note the next time you’re onstage — it’s incredibly frustrating to have to give someone the same note over and over! For example, if your director has to continually say, “Stop looking at the ground!” for heaven’s sake, maybe you should stop looking at the ground! The audience didn’t pay to see the top of your head! Similarly, if you’re a sound operator and you keep missing the same cue, rest assured you’re going to be hearing about it in notes that evening, and you better fix it before opening night!
Here’s some advice from my theatre friends on the subject of notes:
- “If your director gives you constructive criticism don’t take it personally. Sincerely thank him/her for the feedback and learn from it.”
- “Directors want to make you look better and not criticize you and make you feel bad. You must learn to handle constructive criticism and grow as an actor from it.”
- “Don’t discuss notes or argue them during note time. If you need clarification, ask the director later when you’re not wasting everyone else’s time at 11:00pm. Or figure it out yourself. TAKE THE NOTE AND SHUT UP!”
- “When you’re at a full cast rehearsal and you aren’t in one scene, listen to the comments that the director, music director, choreographer, or whoever is making, so that you don’t have to hear that comment said to you!”
- “When a director proposes an idea to you, don’t immediately say no if it doesn’t appeal to you! Try it and then make an educated decision.”
Thanks to Kristina Baron-Woods, Ben McVittie, & Blake Smith for their contributions!
Photo Credit: Vicki Cocco