Director’s Diary: Rehearsals You Need To Include In Your Schedule (That You May Not Have Thought Of)

Director's Diary: Rehearsals You Need To Include In Your Schedule (That You May Not Have Thought Of)

I’ve written quite a few posts about rehearsal schedules (including rehearsing in “layers,” dealing with conflicts, and running your rehearsal effectively). It’s so important to plan ahead before your rehearsals start, so you can use your time effectively and set yourself and your team up to create the most successful show possible!

When you are making your rehearsal schedule, there are a few rehearsals you may not have considered including. These are all rehearsals I’ve learned about through trial and error, and from people much smarter than me! I hope that this will help you in your planning process and will make your life easier!

Transitions Rehearsals

A transitions rehearsal is where you meticulously map out exactly what changes need to happen from scene to scene (furniture on/off, scenery or flats on/off, quick changes, and so on), and who is going to do them. Tedious? You bet. Useful? Hell yes!

You may want to schedule 1-2 rehearsals depending on the complexity of your show. At one rehearsal, sit down with your cast and crew and go through the script page by page, noting what people wear in each scene, what props are brought on and off, what furniture and set pieces need to go on and off, and who is bringing each item on. Make sure everyone writes this down in their script! You can also include notes about pre-sets and places for costume quick changes.

After that, you will want to do a physical transition rehearsal where you actually run each transition in the space, on your feet. This can be combined with a cue-to-cue (Q2Q) rehearsal but it’s better to know ahead of time what needs to be done. This helps actors remember what to do in each scene and helps young or new actors take responsibility!

Sitzprobe

If you are directing a musical and you have a live band or orchestra, you’ll definitely want to have a sitzprobe. Sitzprobe is a German word meaning “seated rehearsal.” This is where the band/orchestra and cast sing and play through the musical together for the first time, without any staging or production elements — just a room full of people performing together!

A sitzprobe is beneficial for the actors so they’ll know how the music truly sounds and how their vocals blend with the music (or how their vocals get drowned out by the band!), and it’s beneficial for the band so they get familiar with the cast members and so they know the tempos and volume level they need to play at. Better to work out band/vocal problems before tech rehearsal!

Sensitive, Private Rehearsals

You will want to allot time for closed rehearsals (where only a few actors/essential crew are called) to work on scenes of a potentially sensitive nature, such as:

This is important for the comfort of the actors involved in these scenes. You want to create a rehearsal environment where actors feel safe to experiment and try different ways of portraying a scene. Let your actors know that you are available for closed rehearsals should they wish to have them for a particular scene. Try to get these rehearsals done early in the rehearsal process so you have the maximum amount of time possible to review and refine these scenes, and to take the embarrassment/sensitive nature out of the picture.

Costume Fittings/Costume Runs

This is fairly self-explanatory, but you’ll want to allot time in the rehearsal schedule for actors to be fitted for costumes, have a costume parade (so the director can approve the costumes selected) and rehearsals to run with costumes, so actors will know if they have any problems (such as an impossibly fast quick change, an extensive hair or makeup change, or restricted movement due to the costume).

Of course, there will always be different issues arising that you didn’t even think of, but it’s better to be as proactive as possible and get as many potential issues out of the way before tech and dress rehearsals! Save your sanity and get your rehearsal schedule planned out in advance, and use each minute of time as effectively as you can!

What are the essential rehearsals that you always include in your schedules?
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3 thoughts on “Director’s Diary: Rehearsals You Need To Include In Your Schedule (That You May Not Have Thought Of)

  1. I have a truly limited rehearsal schedule – once a week for about 2 1/2 months! But this year I did do a transition/cue to cue rehearsal. With 14 scene changes it was totally necessary. Even though it was our final dress rehearsal (eeks!) it was incredibly beneficial & necessary.

  2. Good list!

    For comedies I sometimes do a “laugh through–” a line-through where the entire cast laughs uproariously at any line that could trigger a laugh in an audience. This helps give the cast a feeling for where to hold for laughs.

    I also occasionally do fast line-throughs on a playground. I instruct the cast to move randomly and playfully on the equipment while speeding through the lines. This helps shake them out of set rhythms, and also emulates the kind of surprises that can happen during a performance. If an actor can’t do the playground exercise without flubbing lines, they don’t have their lines memorized well enough. btw, I probably wouldn’t do this with pros, but they are great for students and amateurs.

    Another great rehearsal is a “character rehearsal.” I like to see character early on– earlier than many actors are comfortable. Starting with movement, I have actors try on different physicalities by walking around the room as their character in an exaggerated fashion. We then incorporate vocalization using a line or two of dialogue. After they develop 2 or 3 different approaches, we apply them to a scene or beat to see how they work. There is usually a consensus about what works best. It’s super helpful before getting into scene work, since a clear character choice can influences other choices the actors make during that process.

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