The first rehearsal of a new production is always a fraught & nervy experience – new director, new cast members to work with, new space, new words, new actions, etc, etc. Imagine dropping a learner driver into pole position on the grid at the Monaco Grand Prix with nothing more than a pat on the back & a half-hearted “good luck”. Okay, it’s not quite THAT dramatic but, you get my drift. What I’m trying to say is that at every first rehearsal you are paralysed by a feeling of “I don’t know what I’m doing!” My voice sounds odd, I’m not breathing properly, my throat is dry, I’m shouting too much, my arms and legs are doing weird things, I’m no longer in control of my hands. The typical exchange between actor & director goes something like this;
Director – Dean, you know that bit where you say “well, we can’t just sit here all day”.
Me – Yes?
Director – You were standing up when you delivered that line.
Me – Oh, sorry. Anything else?
Director – No. Yes. You walked through the door three times without opening it.
Me – I’m never going to play Hamlet, am I?
A good director really earns their corn during this early stage, I think. While the actor resembles a new-born foal, eagerly trying to stand whilst repeatedly falling over in an ungraceful, dribbling heap, the director is gently encouraging, ignoring the first rehearsal calamities and reminding us all that it’s “early days” and that he or she is “not expecting any acting to happen yet”. That’s a relief.
The odd thing is that this happens with EVERY PRODUCTION! No matter how confident you are in what you think you’re doing, no matter how many wonderful ideas and bits of business you’ve scribbled into your margin pre-rehearsal, that first session is generally a bit of a disaster. But it’s all part of the process…
Guest Blogger: Dean Laccohee (Currently rehearsing as Marvin in ‘California Suite’)