When creating a rehearsal schedule, you will need:
- All of the cast members’ conflicts
- Scene breakdown
- Production calendar
The production calendar includes not just the audition and performance dates, but when people are building the sets, when publicity photos will be taken, and any dark days the theatre has.
With your copy of the production calendar, add in everyone’s conflicts. It’s a time consuming task but will save you much frustration in the long run.
Now let’s work backwards. For most productions, the big tech day is the Sunday before the show opens. If your show opens on Friday then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday should be Full Dress Rehearsals, with costumes, props, lights and sound, as if it were the real thing. On tech Sunday, I suggest that the tech crew meet in the morning for a Dry Tech or Paper Tech, where they just go through the cues without the actors to make sure everything is functioning properly. Then call the actors for the afternoon and go through the whole show marrying actors with the tech.
This is when things start to get frustrating. There’s often a lot of “hurry up and wait”. People tend to get cranky when things aren’t going well. So it’s important for you to stay balanced and positive. Not just for your sanity, but for theirs. It also helps to feed them. Talk to your Producer about food and what your budget is. Pizza is almost always a great idea.
But I digress. Back to the schedule!
Tech Sunday is not the day the cast should be running the show from beginning to end for the first time. Ideally you’ll want to be running the show a few days before that. Which means that everyone should have their lines learned about a week before tech Sunday at the LATEST. If you have a three act play, I like to have Act 3 off-book (meaning the actors are no longer calling for lines) by the Monday before Tech Sunday. Act 2 the Monday before that, and Act 1 the Monday before that.
In the Beginning…
At your very first rehearsal, everyone should be there. Almost all directors like to have a table reading, which means that everyone sits around the table and reads the script. This is a good opportunity to get a rough estimate of how long the show will run as this will probably be the fastest the show goes until your full run-throughs. Some actors like to record the read-through so that they can use it to help them learn their lines. You should also be confirming everyone’s contact information and conflicts that they provided on their audition forms!!
Here’s where the scene breakdown sheet comes in handy.
The Schedule: Assuming 8 weeks for a 3 Act play
Week 1: Run all the scenes for Act 1 that you can, in as close to a chronological order that you can. But try not to have people sitting around waiting for their scenes.
Week 2: Any scenes you couldn’t do last week. Run all the scenes for Act 2 that you can.
Week 3: Any scenes you couldn’t do last week. Run all the scenes for Act 3 that you can.
Week 4: By this time, you and the director should have an understanding about which scenes need more work. Or if you have actor conflicts, this is a good time to review!
(This is a basic guideline and will have to be adjusted for every show. Some scenes may need more work than others, etc.)
Week 5: Monday: Off Book Act 1: Run through act 1 as many times as you can. Start running through acts 2 and 3 Thursday and Friday
Week 6: Monday: Off Book Act 2: Run through act 2 as many times as you can. Run acts 1 and 2, then 2 and 3
Week 7: Monday: Off Book act 3: Run through act 3 as many times as you can. Start running 1 through 3
Week 8: Tech Sunday; Full dress run-throughs Monday-Thursday; Open Friday!!!
Depending on the length of your run, you should have a pick-up rehearsal every week, to make sure the actors haven’t gotten rusty. You don’t need to do any tech, just a bare bones rehearsal.
Strike: This is when the set gets taken down. Some theatres ask the actors to help, some have their own tech crew to do it.
But Wait, There’s More….
You are also responsible for making sure everyone on the tech side is keeping to their schedule. You should try to have a production meeting before the first rehearsal and then at least 2 or 3 more, schedule permitting. These are your progress updates, where you can ask questions, and provide answers.
Some things you may have to schedule:
- Publicity photo shoot(s)
- due date for Program Bios from cast
- costume fittings
- Props due date
- Costumes due date
- Set due date
- Lights & Sound due date
Here is a copy of the last few weeks of one of my schedules: SampleProductionCalendar
Hope that’s been helpful and not too difficult to follow. Please ask questions! I will answer!
The Awesome stage Manager