Tonight is the first rehearsal for The Good Doctor. I'm ridiculously excited.
I love rehearsals. I love the time set aside to learn, explore and play. Yes, I can learn my lines on my own. But the interactions with others bring the story to a new level. A depth is added that I didn't see in just learning my lines. There's a joke in the dialogue that I didn't get until I heard it out loud. A rehearsal, to me, is sacred time. You get to make choices. You get to make mistakes. You get to learn. In a good rehearsal, anyway.
Yesterday, Mark Westbrook at acting-blog.com wrote about "How We Got Rehearsal Wrong". His main point is that "You cannot create immediacy if you repeat something over again." I think he has some valid points here, yet I don't know what a better option would look like.
Rehearsals shouldn't just be to learn your lines and learn your blocking. If all the time is spent on hammering those things into your head, the show will lose it's sparkle. Rehearsals should be a time to explore and experiment. To learn about the character, learn about your other players, learn about yourself. A good director should help you do that. As Westbrook wrote "Rehearsal should be an opportunity to put your understanding of the play into action, to habituate the actions of the character and to build an ensemble that works well together." Rehearsals are to get the work done, so you can experience the performance.
The thing I love most about theatre is that, despite the script, the stage directions, the rehearsals of lines and blocking, it is a live art. The show, as an experience, is not scripted. Someone drops a line or misses an entrance. The line that no one has laughed at for 2 weeks finally cracks someone up. The wrong sound cue plays. An audience member is moved to tears.
All of these things can happen. Will happen. A good rehearsal process gives you the foundation to survive the surprises. To keep the show on track while enjoying the ride.
So, what would your ideal rehearsal process look like? How do we create habits, without losing spontaneity? How do we learn lines and block without making it just a repetitive exercise? What would you change about rehearsals you have been in?