8 steps to a perfect rehearsal:

If you’ve ever been part of a big artistic stage project, whether it be theatre, dance, choral, opera, musical theatre and everything in between, you know how long a full day rehearsal can be. I’ve done my fair share of these, and I wanted to share my tips on how best to survive them. Please comment below if you think I’ve missed any!

rehearsal music singing preparation

Steps to a perfect rehearsal...

1. Prepare

First things first, the golden rule of rehearsal: prepare. You and your fellow artists will get much more out of the rehearsal if you turn up prepared for the day. Learn your lines, know your lyrics, revise the blocking…before the rehearsal. If you have done the work in advance, you will enjoy the rehearsal a lot more. You will also not end up in the bad books of your fellow cast members and director, which is a bonus.

2. Dress wisely

Rehearsals are not the time to try out your new dress or jumpsuit, or to wear those lovely business trousers you just got last week that fit so perfectly. Dress comfortably, in loose clothes that you can easily move around in. This is particularly important if you will be dancing, but even if you are not, you need to be able to move around the stage and participate in any group warmups without constriction.

Top Tip #1: Take some extra layers with you, and a change of clothes if you know you’ll be moving a lot – it can be cold in rehearsal spaces, but once you get dancing it can heat up quickly!

3. Bring the right shoes

Make sure your shoes are appropriate too! Some rehearsal spaces have dance floors and you can’t wear your shoes, so be sure to check in advance what the rules are. Some dance shoes if you have them, or some thick socks, will keep your feet happy.

Top tip #2: As soon as you can, start rehearsing in the shoes you intend to perform in.

4. Food and Drink

Often you won’t have time, or there won’t be anywhere nearby, to buy things to eat and drink during the day. Avoid getting caught out by preparing your own lunchbox for the day. My favourite rehearsal foods are a sandwich, several pieces of fruit, something sweet like a muffin or some biscuits, cheese & crackers, and some nuts and dried fruit to snack on. Pack plenty of extra snacks – if you don’t eat them all you can always share them. Bringing a thermos with hot water and some tea bags (or filled with coffee if you prefer!) will also be a nice treat part way through the day. Finally, if you bring nothing else, do not forget to bring a water bottle.

Top tip #3: Assume that there won’t be any facilities to heat your food, and avoid anything messy. You don’t want to be that person who spilled soup on the dance floor!

What's in my rehearsal bag, minus my food and drink. You don't need a fancy bag, just something big enough and easy to carry. (None of these items are sponsored, by the way).

5. What’s in your bag?

I always pack my bag the night before to make sure I don’t forget anything. Beyond the extra clothes, shoes, and food and drink, there’s some other essentials you don’t want to miss:

1. Rehearsal equipment

Whether it be your script, your instrument, your sheet music, or anything else you might need, make sure it’s in your bag. It’s always a good idea to have a pencil and eraser with you too, and I like to have a small notebook to write any rehearsal notes in.

2. Extras you have been asked to bring

You may have been asked to bring a piece of costume to show to someone, or a prop. It’s often on these full day rehearsals that the production team is able to sort out some of the details.

3. Something to do when you aren’t rehearsing

It can be a book, some work, a game, a tablet to watch Netflix on…whatever takes your fancy. Just make sure you’ve got something quiet to do when you’re not required on stage.

Top tip #4: Bring your charger with you if you intend to entertain yourself with an electronic device.¬†From someone who has played a lot of ‘dead’ characters, you don’t want to be stuck twiddling your thumbs after your scene is done, just because your phone has died.

Finally, I always take basics such as tissues, paracetamol, lip balm, deodorant and plasters, just in case.

6. Arriving at rehearsal

Make sure you know where you are going, and get there on time, if not early. Arriving late to a room full of people glaring at you is not a good way to make a good impression. Work out where everything is, and help set up if you can. Many hands make light work!

7. During the day

Take notes after your rehearse a scene, and if you have any questions that aren’t urgent, consider asking them by email or at a later date, to save time. Full day rehearsals are exhausting for the directing team. You can make their life easier (and therefore keep them from getting too grumpy) by doing several things.

  • Be aware of the schedule, and don’t miss your calls. Don’t be the person everyone is looking for, holding up the rehearsal.
  • If you aren’t needed on stage, either watch quietly, or go somewhere else. There is nothing more infuriating for someone running a rehearsal than having to raise their voice over people chatting, and having to say ‘be quiet…’quiet please’ on repeat for hours at a time.
  • If you have to leave the rehearsal for any reason, make sure someone knows before you go.

Top tip #5: If you can rehearse something during your down time, do. Go over that tricky dance move, or revise that complex blocking with a friend.

8. Before you leave

Full day rehearsals will often go over the scheduled end time. If you absolutely have to leave at a certain time, let someone know beforehand. When it is finally all done for the day, make sure you take all your belongings, and lend a hand in packing up. The last thing the production team wants to spend their evening doing is picking up food wrappers and lost property – they are just as keen as you are to get home.

I hope you found this guide useful, and that it will make your future full day rehearsals more fun and easier to get through. 

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