We accomplished a lot at Natick Drama Workshop this week! Almost all of the music has been taught, our opening songs have been choreographed, and we blocked the first 4 scenes of the show!
What does that mean for our actors? It means that from here on out there will always be “homework.” It is really important that each actor goes home and “studies” what’s been learned during rehearsals.
I remember being in NDW as a kid and practicing my dances over and over. Jane used to make cassette tapes for us and I would put the tape into my stereo system during the week and practice ALL the choreography that I learned. The tape had 2 sides: one had vocals (Jane singing along), and the other side was just the accompaniment. When I was trying to concentrate on just the dance moves, I would listen to the side with Jane singing. I would sing along, but I didn’t have to think about the lyrics until I was ready. Then, after going over the dances a couple of times, I’d flip the tape over and dance while singing.
Practicing these things is really important. From a staff/teacher perspective, it’s really frustrating when you teach something and then you have to re-teach it every week. By practicing, you are ensuring that we won’t be wasting time re-teaching (although certainly we want to answer any questions you have so that you don’t learn things incorrectly over and over). From an acting perspective, the more you practice, the more comfortable you will be onstage during the performances.
Imagine this: you are an actor with a smaller role and you memorized your 10 lines and you figure that’s all you really need to worry about. During the shows you plan to sing quietly and have managed to get spots at the back of the stage during all the dances so that you won’t be seen. This way, you don’t have to worry about learning the lyrics or choreography and you’re all set. Except that you’re not. Your parents, friends, grandparents will find you on stage and will be watching you not knowing what you’re doing. You could also throw off your fellow actors. By not knowing what you’re doing you risk getting hurt or hurting someone else (an extreme, but not impossible). At best, you might throw off someone’s concentration or confidence when they see you doing something other than what they are doing. And, worst of all, your fellow actors, once they catch on to you, will realize that you don’t care and are not a member of the team. The entire cast is a team and each member needs to do what’s expected of them so that the team can stay whole and continue to work together.
It may seem tedious to go home every day after school (and whatever afternoon activities you may have) and do homework, and then have to work on this show, but your effort will pay off and you can do this homework with the aid of friends, and you’ll feel a lot more confident at rehearsals and, ultimately, during the shows. It’s a win-win.
So, when we ask you to read the entire script, or review your blocking, or choreography, or to start memorizing your lyrics – do it! It is for your own good and for the good of your team. The more you do all of this, the happier you will be at NDW – I promise!