Working on numerous films, TV shows and stage productions, I have become well-versed in rehearsal technique; however, I am constantly surprised by the number of actors who are completely oblivious on how to properly rehearse a script. Rehearsing is vital for numerous reasons. Of course, there’s the technical aspect of rehearsals; however, as actors, you must treat a rehearsal as an actual performance. Far too many actors are either lazy, or not educated enough, to understand that rehearsals are a form of performance, and it is within this safe haven you can truly discover your character, take chances and delve into the inner workings of a scene.
Far too many actors have showed up at rehearsals not being prepared for the duties at hand. Think of a rehearsal as a test. You wouldn’t show up to class without studying the materials, thus why would you arrive at rehearsal without doing your homework on the script and your character? Before ever arriving at a rehearsal, you should: read the script at least three times, have made a character biography, analyzed the script and have distinct character choices. I always try to show up to a rehearsal with the current scene memorized, or at least mostly memorized. This is important as you can focus more on the performance and not grabbing your next line from the script.
Rehearsal are a safe place to experiment with your character. There have been a lot of occasions where an actor played it safe during rehearsals, and then decided to experiment with a character choice during the actual production. Not only can this throw your fellow actors off, but your run the risk of making a wrong choice that can completely alter the meaning of a scene or the power of your character. Rehearsals are designed to make discoveries about your character as well as making mistakes and learning from them before the actual performance.
Working with the Director/Production Staff
Working with a director and the production staff is a skill amongst itself. You can be an amazing actor, but if you don’t understand the principles of discipline and rehearsal ethics, then you won’t make it very far in this business. Spend time getting to know your director, take a moment to understand the roles of all the production staff and ask what you can do to help make the technical aspect of the rehearsal go smoother for the staff.