Thursday, February 12, 2015

Five Ways to Recover from a Bad Rehearsal

Well it is the month of the Middle School Production. I have discovered that blogging and tech week don't mix. I think for the month of the show I am only going to be able to write one post a week, so I will try to make it a good one.

We all have had it happen. You go to in to rehearse and everything goes wrong. The kids haven't memorized their lines, half the group has forgotten their choreography, the prop crew forgets a scene change, and the lights crew misses several cues. Everything seems to go wrong. How do you recover and refocus your cast? How do you ensure that this rehearsal doesn't affect your final performance?

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1. Have a "Come to Theatre" meeting

I am from the South. In the South the little old church ladies will often have a "Come to Jesus" meeting. At this meeting, the ladies find a group and tell them all the things they are doing wrong and how they can solve all their problems by coming to Jesus. 

The come to theatre meeting is very similar. Call your cast together and talk about your goals for the show. This is not a time to yell cry or make a scene, but this is a time to be brutally honest. Let the students know exactly what they are doing wrong and what they can do to fix it. I would be careful about who you call out by name but if you think it would be effective you can. Make sure you talk about how you all want the show to be successful and how they should take pride in their performance. I also like to throw in a bit about ensemble and how we are only as good as our weakest player. I once had a director tell us to go home and think about their performance and if they would have a job if this was a professional theatre. I also like to give the students concrete things to work on. Go memorize lines with a friend, sing to the cd three times. Etc.

2. Team Huddle

After you are done with your meeting, it is often a good idea to huddle the team. The kids are going to feel a little downtrodden and unsure about their upcoming show. You want to leave on a positive note. You want them to know that you believe in them and know they can succeed. If you have a group or class cheer you might want to do that. Team huddle is all about being positive and re-energizing the cast.

3. Student Leaders

On every cast there are a few students who are your leaders. Hopefully you have a good relationship with a few of these leaders. Pull these leaders aside individually and talk to them about they can help the success of the show. Maybe they can mentor some of then lead roles to help prepare. Maybe they can help the students focus backstage. Maybe they can reteach some choreography or songs. Use your student leaders to your advantage. If you can get them refocused and re-enrgized the battle will be so much easier.

4. Set the Kids up for Success.

At the start of the next rehearsal you want to start off on a really good note. You want the kids to get their confidence back. Pick a scene song or dance that you know your kids can nail and have them start off with that. You want to up the students' confidence level before you start working on the hard stuff. When you are done with the scene. Praise the kids, let them know how great they did. You want their confidence up for the start of the rehearsal. 

5. Trust the Process

Bad rehearsals happen. Our school has a superstition that if you don't have a bad rehearsal at least once the week before the show, the show will fail. You and your students have worked so hard for the production. You all have done everything you can to prepare for the show. The kids want to do well. The audience wants to see the kids succeed. The show will be great. No one will know if students miss a few lines or misstep on a dance. Most kids are "show kids" they drive us crazy in the rehearsal process but pull it out for the show. If you have all done the work the show will be great. Be positive and try not to worry.

I hope these tips help you when you are faced with a bad rehearsal right before a show. What else have you done to recover from a bad rehearsal? How to do you refocus your kids? Do bad rehearsals happen to anyone else or is it just me :)