Chances are that if you’re reading this you don’t support yourself by directing or doing any kind of theater. And if you do, please contact me and tell me how.
Assuming that I’m correct, theater is your creative outlet. It’s my creative outlet, obviously, but I need to pay the bills and live like a civilized human being, so I work, and sometimes I get busy. When those times come, or when I’m swamped but still need to get a play off the ground, I have to employ some strategies to help ease the burden of living a double life. What follows are 5 tips that might help you get through a short rehearsal process, or just simply help you manage your time better so you can continue being a capitalist during the day and a superhero theater director at night.
1. Don’t hold auditions. Go with who you know. You will save time and headaches down the line. If your show allows you to fill it with people that you’ve worked with before, absolutely do that. It’s great to add new talent, but when you’re crunched for time – either in the rehearsal period or in your life – you don’t need an extra variable.
2. Schedule rehearsals around everyone’s schedule – but start with your own.Send the cast every possible day that you’re free for rehearsal using doodle.com (see screen shot below) or something similar. Let them choose. You receive instant feedback and can make the rehearsal schedule to accommodate everyone. This will come into play later – you will spend less time rescheduling rehearsals and have more time with a full cast when you get closer to the production (because I always assume that they have day jobs, too).
3. Blocking charts. I went very unorthodox with my last show. I actually created crude (as you can see by the photo) blocking charts by scene and sent them to the cast to look at. This made our blocking rehearsal incredibly smooth (I just had them up on my iPad for reference at rehearsal – helped immensely). I wouldn’t do it for every show, but it certainly helped in this situation in which I had only 6 rehearsals to get it all together.
4. Early morning. Late night. In the rain. Get it done. You’re busy and so is your cast. The only time you can all meet is Saturday morning at 7:30. Well, guess what? You meet on Saturday morning at 7:30.
5. Have a plan for every single rehearsal. Sometimes it’s great to just rehearse and see where it goes, but not when you are on a serious time crunch. If you only have 2 hours, twice a week, for 3 weeks to rehearse, it needs to be worthwhile. Use the last couple of rehearsals to “elevate” the characters. Go scene by scene and give notes during a run of the play. It’s unorthodox, and not really the kind of character work that I generally like to do, but it works when time is a factor. And I didn’t see any down sides to it – it actually worked quite well.
Bonus.Trust your actors. You are all in this together- they want a great show as much as you do. Trust that they’ll know their lines. Trust that they’ll come alive on stage. Trust that they will wow the audience. When you don’t have time to take risks, stick with who, and what, you know.Follow @theaterific