Rehearsal #4

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to be in a play. She loved going to rehearsals and saying her lines and singing and dancing. She shared this experience with several of her friends and every rehearsal was a chance for them to catch up and make new memories.

When each rehearsal ended, this girl went home, ate lunch, and then forgot all about her rehearsals until the following week when it was time to go to rehearsal once more. And again, this girl loved being at rehearsals with her friends, but forgot all about the play when she arrived home.

One day, she woke up for rehearsal and found that she was no longer allowed to use her script. She didn’t know what to do! She needed her script to say the lines she loved saying so much. She needed her script for singing all the lyrics required for the songs. She also needed her script to remind her of her entrances and exits.How would she ever get onstage if she didn’t know where and when to come in?

To make matters worse, because this girl didn’t know her song lyrics, she found that she was a beat behind everyone with her dances, as well. She had to watch the people in front of her and to her side and try her best to copy their moves. By the time the rehearsal was half over, the girl was very sad and for the first time, found that she could not fully enjoy the rehearsal.

Has this ever happened to you? I hope not. With our first off-book date this weekend, I imagine that a lot of our actors will be in this position. It’s very easy to go home Saturday afternoon and think about anything other than NDW. There’s homework to do, friends to see and talk to, errands to run, television to watch, games to play, books to read… the list goes on and on.

No one expects an actor to leave rehearsal and think only of what s/he worked on at that day. It is expected, however, that some time during the week be spent thinking about the play. You can’t learn lines without going over them over and over. You can’t learn songs or choreography without repeated practice. Of course, no one expects everything to be perfectly memorized right away either. What is expected, is that each actor tries. There’s a reason why “line” is an accepted way of receiving a forgotten line - if every actor would be expected to be perfect, no such practice would be in place.

Let me back up for a minute. What do I mean by “off-book?” Simply that all lines, lyrics, blocking, and choreography is memorized and no book (or script) is needed. When an actor is off-book, if a line is forgotten, rather than saying, “I forgot my line,” or, “I’m sorry,” an actor is expected to simply say, “line.”

Now, let’s tell the above story a different way:

Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to be in a play. She loved going to rehearsals and saying her lines and singing and dancing. She shared this experience with several of her friends and every rehearsal was a chance for them to catch up and make new memories.

When rehearsal ended, this girl went home, and went about her business. The following day she found herself to be bored, and knew she had at least 10 minutes to spare, so she went to her room, took out her script and tried singing some of the songs she enjoyed singing with her friends at rehearsal. She had a little bit of trouble with one of the songs, so she took out her computer, downloaded the music, and sang along to the song until she felt more comfortable with it. Then her mother called her away and she put her script down.

The next day, the girl got home from school and needed a break from doing her homework. She decided to put on some of the music that she had downloaded and practiced a dance that she had learned at the last rehearsal. After about 5 minutes of practice, she felt ready to do her homework.

The girl continued to practice for the play she loved so much throughout the week. When it was time to go to rehearsal once more, the girl felt more confident and could enjoy rehearsal and spending time with her friends even more.

After rehearsal, and during the whole week following, the girl continued to practice for the play she loved so much on her own. She continued to do this week after week, rehearsal after rehearsal.

One day, she woke up for rehearsal and found that she was no longer allowed to use her script. She didn’t care though. She knew the lines she loved saying so much and the lyrics she loved to sing. She even felt confident in all the dances. As she danced, she noticed that others were watching her movements and copying her. She felt so proud that she could hold her head up high and be an example to others. This rehearsal turned out to be the best one of all!

Do you see how easy it is to find the time to practice at home?By doing this just a few minutes every day or so, you too can have a wonderful off-book rehearsal!

Now that all the music has been taught, the dances will hopefully become easier to learn the more confident you become with the music itself. Now that we’ve blocked 4 1/2 scenes (the pre-show, and Act one scenes 1-3, and a little of 1,4) being off-book shouldn’t be too scary if you’ve put the work in. And remember, you can always call “line”!

And now it is time for another 1960s music lesson. The Ed Sullivan show was a staple in many homes for years. It was a family friendly variety show on Sunday evenings.  Many popular music acts of the day performed on the show, bringing them into living rooms across the country.  On occasion, because it was a family show, Ed Sullivan would ask some artists/bands to change the words to their songs.  Here are two such examples:  the first is The Rolling Stones singing “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” That wasn’t wholesome enough, so they were asked to change the words to “let’s spend some time together.” As Mick Jagger sings the chorus, you can see that he is making faces, but he did change the words and The Stones were invited back onto the show in the future.  The second example is when The Doors sang “Light My Fire” on the show.  They were asked to change the lyric “girl, we couldn’t get much higher” to something less offensive.  They didn’t and were not invited back on the show.  Ed Sullivan was a huge influencer, but luckily, I don’t think The Doors disobeying Ed Sullivan lost them too many fans.  After all, going against the man was part of the counterculture. 

Until Saturday,

Debbi