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8.4: Rehearsal Description

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    The First Rehearsal

    The first rehearsal is one of the most exciting. This is where you will introduce each member of the team and what their role in the production will be. This will be followed by presentations from each of your designers showcasing the design elements and outlining the creative plan. Once this has been completed you will take a short break and then begin a table read.

    The Second Rehearsal: Building the Team

    Now that you have a create team, stage manager, and have cast the show you are ready to begin building the supportive collaborative environment in which to hold rehearsals. Building a strong and supportive community allows people to feel safe and supported in taking creative risks. Also, If you can craft an environment that rewards creative choice and risk, you will give your performers the confidence to continue their creative growth throughout the entire process. The second rehearsal should be dedicated solely to team building, the environment you create that day will carry you through the production.

    Character Work/World Building

    In the beginning of the rehearsal process you want to build the imaginary world of the play with the actors. This process will allow to gain insight on how the actor is interpreting the role and also how to communicate with them. Throughout this process you will also need to guide each member so that they are making choices that fit within the world you are creating and also make sure that the choices correspond with other acting choices happening within the cast. You do not need acting experience in order to communicate with actors, although it helps, but you do need to know what the actor’s process is like so you can communicate you needs to them within the language they use to create characters.


    Blocking is the process where you get the actors on their feet and begin staging the show. You can sketch out the movements before rehearsal in order to save time, but you will always have adjustments. Be patient with yourself and your actors during this time. Use your training and make sure that your blocking is telling the story as much as the dialogue of the play. Get your actors off book as soon as possible. It takes time for your actors to internalize lines and the first week after they are memorized they will not be present on stage because they will still be thinking of the lines rather than responding to the action on stage. The faster your group is off book, the better your show will be. You know a play is in trouble if the week before you open actors still have scripts in their hands.

    Stumble Throughs

    Stumble throughs are the events where you have completed blocking for a set of scenes and you present them in sequence, to see if the narrative works. As a director you never think that you will become physically ill while watching your first stumble throughs, but you do. They either go better than expected or they are absolutely awful. Do not get discouraged. It is a process. You need to try ideas and see if they work. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

    Scene work

    Once you identified what elements of the blocking are successful you can begin to edit the elements that need work or refine scenes. This is your chance to help your actor refine choices and craft the narrative of the show. Some scenes can be refined quickly and others take a great deal of time. Don’t get lost in a detail that consumes your entire rehearsal. Pick your battles and know that some elements will be refined and ironed out through your actors having the ability to run through the entire show.

    Run Throughs

    The more your actors have the ability to run through their entire performance, the more they are able to get comfortable and confident in what they are doing. If you run behind in your schedule and the actors do not have time to run through the show and build confidence, the more they will panic. Allow time for run throughs and at the end of the performance gather the group and respond. Always highlight what is working and offer small areas of improvement.


    Welcome to the longest days of the rehearsal process. Tech is where all of the design elements are added to the rehearsal process and you have roughly 2 days to do with your designers, what you have spent 5 weeks doing with your actors. During this time everyone will be tired, grumpy, and stressed. As the leader you need to anticipate this and be a constant positive force. Warn your actors that during tech you will not be giving notes but rather focusing on the theatrical elements that will make them look good.

    With the designers, remember that they have spent hours crafting their contributions. Some things will need to be completely changed, and when this happens know that the designer will be frustrated and hurt because it will feel like they are being rejected. Remember to phrase things in positive ways but be assertive in the productions needs. This will be a difficult process but with the right mindset it can also be a lot of fun. This is where your play truly starts to come together and transform from an idea to a reality.

    Final Dress

    The final dress is your last opportunity to guide the show. Offer last minute improvements, but know that this is the time where the actors need to take full command of their performance. Once the show opens you are no longer in charge. The show belongs to the public and leadership belongs to the Stage Manager. I know some director’s give notes after opening, but I feel this is a mistake and is counter productive. You want the actors to work hard in rehearsals so that they can play and live in the moment on stage. You do not want them thinking about your notes in front of a live audience.

    8.4: Rehearsal Description is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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