Don't Wear Flipflops!

Wear Good Shoes

I wore flipflops to my first rehearsal to Mousetrap. Why? I don't know. I suppose I wasn't thinking. As that rehearsal went on I got more and more frustrated with my footwear. Flipflops did not mesh with my character very well. Trying to move with power and poise was difficult when every step resounded with the clap, clap of the flipflops flapping. I experience first hand (or should I say foot) why so many theaters, including POTS, talk about wearing the right shoes. By the end of rehearsal my shoes had been unceremoniously flung to the corner of the room and my cast mates likely wondered about my sanity. 

This was one of the many rules whose value I learned first hand. Wear solid shoes, ok actors? Not every theatre embraces the barefoot culture of POTS and you don't want to be faced with the awkwardness of choosing between being able to rehearse and being polite.

Arrive at least minutes before rehearsal

Is it hard? Yes. Sometimes arriving on time seems an impossibility, let alone ten or fifteen minutes. Hard though it may be it is worth it. Not only do you waste the director's, stage manager's, and your cast's time, you rob yourself of the opportunity to get settled before you jump into rehearsal. I was early most weeks, but the weeks I wasn't were tough. Sometimes it is impossible (ie. Unexpected traffic), but do your utmost and always communicate tardiness with the stage manager or director.

Review lines by reading the scripture, you've got them in your head and running through lines while doing dishes is great, but it is no substitute to reading the text. Letting the text tweak and correct your memorization is invaluable to keeping your lines accurate and sharp in your mind, ready for delivery.

Don't cut your hair without getting permission

I am ashamed to say I broke this rule. It still amazes me. I know this rule very well. I frequently remind my actors that they can't do anything to their hair without asking me. Yet I thought I could get away with it.

I know why. I was wearing a wig, so a hair trim wouldn't matter. Oh but it did. Trimming my hair before production week meant that it was nearly impossible for me to keep the whisps at the back of my neck under the wig. 

Never assume you're the exception. You're not.

Trust your Director.

Meaning: don't argue with the director and don't assume you know better.

Being that I am both an arrogant person and a director this was a temptation. Chris Egging was amazing and I learned much from watching him. But every once in a while my director's eye would see something that I thought was strange or didn't agree with or thought should be handled differently. Most of the time I was able to take my own advice that I give to my actors- trust the director- and trusted Chris to see the whole picture and make it work. He did, so there was nothing to get stressed about. 

Unfortunately, there were three instances (at least I hope it was only three) where I argued a little. One of those was my wig. I really didn't want to wear a wig, and I thought that some hairspray would work better. It was probably driven more by vanity then artistic reasonings. In the end my wig wasn't that bad and worked great, except for the issue mentioned above. So I should have just trusted my director. 

If I continue acting I know I'll run into instances where a director makes a mistake. Directors are human afterall. But being a director myself, I want to encourage actors to trust that even if the director is off base in one area they should still trust them with the overall vision of the show. That's their job.

(For the record, that doesn't mean you can't ask your director questions about a concern or point of confusion. Just ask with an attitude of trust and respect and when it doesn't steal rehearsal time.)

The last rule I enjoyed experiencing was:

Have Fun.

Our rehearsals went much more smoothly when we were focused on playing and not caught up in the drudgery of being perfect.

There's a few of the things I learned in my acting experience last fall, there were many more, but these are done of the most important ones. Especially the last. Have fun!