Rehearsal Survival 101
After the brilliantly received performances with the Dulwich Opera Company last week, I took some time to reflect on what I took away from the experience. Aside from the obvious positives like recit workshops, working as part of a company and how to perform in a semi-staged production, one of the things I found myself thinking about was the rehearsal process itself.
When you're young, bright-eyed and new to the working world of Opera, you're probably going to start out by playing smaller roles. This is no bad thing whatsoever, roles take experience and time to work up to (and you should be in sponge-mode when this is the case, soaking up all the knowledge from your fellow cast members), but it can mean you're called for rehearsals where you may only be needed for all of 10 minutes but are required to stay for its entirety. So here's a list of handy things to bring to make the most of your time offtage:
1) Your music
This seems like an obvious one to start with right? Ive been told a lot recently that by the time rehearsals start its beneficial to be off-copy, but bringing along the score and going over the words, dynamics, meaning and rehearsal marks whilst you're not needed onstage can really help to solidify these into your memory. As soon as you're off copy, staging becomes SO much easier for everyone, but make sure to bring your music along to write in any directions you're given too.
I found this one out a bit too late! Having no headphones to go over your music is one of THE most frustrating things I experienced during rehearsal; you can again learn any music for the production that may not be 100% as well as any other repetoire that you may be learning! Many people like to do a bit of guided meditation, listen to an audio book or just some calming music whilst preparing for a show, so make sure you pack something to listen with!
3) A book
4) A Phone Charger
Like many people you may want to use your phone to record the rehearsal progress/session or make notes using it, so having a phone charger can be an absolute life saver for keeping it as a resource, as well as for the journey home.
Sometimes there just isnt enough time for a proper lunch amidst rehearsing, so having snacks that you can nibble on between scenes can keep you going. If you're in a remote area where there isnt adequate places to get food, having a thermos of soup, tupaware of leftovers or a sandwich is great to rely on just in case. Don't foget cutlery!
7) Comfortable clothes
When you have to move around a lot onstage there's nothing worse than restrictive clothing or uncomfortable footwear. If you're doing a role that requires a specific costume you're not used to, it's a good idea to bring it to rehearsal and practice in it. In doing this, when you come to the performance you can wear it and move around with ease.
Ok, so this doesn't really count as something to bring... but you may, as I've mentioned, find yourself waiting around for a long time until your scene is worked on. Don't complain and make a scene about your wait time, be respectful and patient and accept that people work at different paces - your time will come! Use your time offstage constructively, pay attention to the way others are working and it'll all be worth it.