Theatre Rehearsal Conduct

Theatre & Dance productions are something in which limited numbers of students get to participate. Certain responsibilities accompany this privilege. The way in which actors and crew members respond to these responsibilities often determine their success in professional, educational or community theatre.

Theatre production is one of the most time consuming and one of the most satisfying activities at a university. It is a unique activity that requires the investment of time and energy of many individuals to create a work of theatre art. In order to engage in a successful production there are certain expectations of all those involved. These are not necessarily rules, but are a matter of consideration for others and the development of good work habits. These are often the things that future employers in the theatre will ask about when requesting recommendations.

  1. Theatre is an Ensemble Art. The actions (or lack of actions) of any individual can have an effect upon the success or failure of an activity that required weeks of preparation and hundreds of man- to prepare. It is unfair to others involved in a production to give less than full attention to the production.
  2. Availability. When actors audition for a show or crew members commit to a production position, they are assumed to be available for normal rehearsal periods through the end of the run of the show. Rehearsals may occur any night between auditions and opening night; technical rehearsal is normally held on the Saturday prior to opening. If an individual has any doubts about when he/she will be required to be at rehearsal, he/she should check with the director or stage manager at auditions.
  3. Acceptance of a Role or Position. When an individual accepts participation in a play or dance concert, it is considered by the department as an unwritten contract. The only acceptable excuse for dropping out of a production is an emergency. It is also assumed that those who accept roles or positions accept the responsibility of devoting the energy and time necessary to present their best work.
  4. Rehearsal Discipline.
  • Attendance. A rehearsal requires the active participation of many individuals. The absence of anyone can waste the time of all the others. If an emergency requires an absence, it is the responsibility of the actor or crew member to notify the director or stage manager as soon as possible. No one should leave a rehearsal until dismissed by the stage manager.
  • Promptness. It is expected that everyone involved in the rehearsal or performance will be on time and ready to begin the activity at the scheduled time. This is so important that peer pressure should be brought upon those who waste the time of others.
  • Use of Time. Although there is a social aspect to participation in theatre, rehearsals and work calls are not the proper time for it. If an individual's participation is not required for a while, the time should be used for line study or other useful activities.
  • Meeting Deadlines. When the cast is scheduled to be off-book, it is expected that each cast member will know his/her lines.
  • Quiet. There is seldom any excuse for any talking (or other noise) in the rehearsal area by those not involved in the scene. Any unnecessary noise adversely affects an individual's concentration and, therefore, the rehearsal or performance.
  • Guests. Individuals not connected with the rehearsal should not attend rehearsals unless it is arranged through the director or stage manager. Students interested in observing rehearsal as a learning experience may often obtain permission from the director.
  • Rehearsal Props and Performance Props. Rehearsal props and performance props are there for one reason only–to be used in rehearsal or performance by the actor to whom they are assigned. Props are often borrowed and/or irreplaceable and should not be used by anyone other than the designated actor.
  • Prompting. When actors require assistance with a line in rehearsal, they should remain in character and say "line." They should not show their frustration, since this could interfere with the performances of the other actors.
  • Direction. It is not unusual for fellow cast members or friends to offer advice about how an actor should play a role. On the other hand, don't give unsolicited advice to others. Remember, only the director is responsible for orchestrating the ensemble effort. Actors should not hesitate to discuss questions of interpretation with the director.
  • Technical Rehearsal. This is often the longest rehearsal of the entire process, and it is often the most important. It is the first time that most of the technical elements are joined with production. Patience is required of all involved. Actors are normally asked to wear rehearsal clothing similar in color to their costumes. Remember that the technical crew has only a few hours to perfect their part of the production while the cast has been working for five to six weeks.
  • Dress Rehearsals and Performances. These final rehearsals require the total concentration of the performers and crew, but new elements must still be integrated into the production.
    • Costume. Usually many hours have gone into the creation of each costume for the production. The director and the costume designer have determined the proper costumes for each character for this production. It is the responsibility of the actor to care for the costume and wear it appropriately. Jokes or complaints about the appearance of oneself or other actors are inappropriate and unconstructive. Eating or drinking in costume shows a lack of respect of the work of others and is not permitted. No actor should go to the front of house areas or leave the theatre in costume or makeup. Crew members should not go into the auditorium/ front of house areas.
    • Makeup. Actors are responsible for their own makeup. During the dress rehearsal period, assistance in the design and technique appropriate to each character will be provided, but normally each actor should be able to apply their own makeup following the final dress rehearsal. Assistance will be provided for special makeup applications
  • Green Room Conduct. During final rehearsals and performances the Green Room is a place for the participants in the production to wait for and prepare for their entrance or activity. It is necessary for those involved to concentrate upon their function in the production–other activities should be avoided. Keeping the Green Room clean is a responsibility of those using the Green Room. No food or drinks are allowed during dress rehearsals or performances.