Rehearsals – A Chance to Discover

Venice-based acting coach Guy Camilleri.

by Guy Camilleri.

Imagine you are about to start a rehearsal with your scene partner only come to find out they see it as an opportunity to suggest how the scene should go. Or, worse yet, they make a statement that has ‘directorial’ written all over it! Sound familiar?

To me, a rehearsal is an opportunity to explore the scene or monologue, not the time or place to dodge your work by trying on a director’s cap. However, sometimes as a result of a concentrated exploration of the scene, a decision might be made between scene partners about a specific moment. If this happens great, if not, ditch that cap along with any attachments about the scene… and keep digging for kernels of truth.

A rehearsal is an opportunity to explore. Photo: Thinkstock.

At my studio in Venice Beach, I urge actors, writers, and directors to remember that a rehearsal is another chance “to discover the scene as we go along.”  In fact, all rehearsals and performances (even when blocked) offer the opportunity to learn something new about yourself and your scene partner(s).

A real-life example is when you schedule a meeting with someone at a café. Once there, you might decide where you are going to sit, eat or drink (blocking). And during the meeting, if you are genuinely present through noticing, listening and reacting truthfully to what’s happening, you will have a chance to discover something new about yourself and the person across from you. Remember; always leave room to be surprised and to surprise yourself.

Here are 7 tips to assist you when starting a rehearsal.

  1. Who is doing what to whom, when, where and why? Mostly the why.
  2. Do not stage the scene. Create a ground plan jointly with the partner and agree on furniture, useful (as opposed to decorative) props that define and shape the space and time.
  3. Explore place, partner, sensory realities, the effort to make a choice and the choices themselves. Always keep something secret.
  4. Stimulate your imagination not to anticipate. Make fresh discoveries. Your imagination is a magnet when working on the edge.
  5. Don’t under-rehearse: know the ground.
  6. Don’t over-rehearse. Leave room for surprises and happy accidents. Don’t polish your mistakes; this only makes the mistakes smoother and smoother.
  7. Come prepared and simultaneously be ready and open to the give-and-take of the work. The theater is a collaborative art that happens in the NOW.

Guy Camilleri is a Venice-based actor, acting coach, and poet. He teaches regular classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings at the Electric Lodge, in Venice. His private coaching specializes in audition preparation, self-taped auditions, original reels and career consultation. To audit a class and book a coaching session, email [email protected] Follow Guy on Instagram @guycamilleri and Facebook.

Read more from Camilleri here.