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How to Survive Rehearsal

As Written by a 16-Year-Old Theatre Survivor

Photo by Julien Andrieux

Do you ever wonder what a peaceful rehearsal is like? For a lot of theatre companies, a calm, easy-going rehearsal is a very rare occurrence. The typical pre-show rehearsal usually involves misplaced props, a long line for the bathroom, and at least one temper tantrum. Don’t worry, there are a few things you can do to survive your six hours in the black box. If you use your time wisely, find a way to avoid getting mobbed for food, and make sure you have a pencil at all times, your rehearsal might be a bit more bearable.

Rehearsal will often drag on for hours on end, so make good use of the time you have offstage. When you have a break between scenes, use the five minutes you may have(if you’re lucky) to finish up some math homework, or sneak a few bites of the lunch you didn’t get to eat because of improv practice. Using your off-stage time to do homework is the best option, since you’re going to be at rehearsal so late that you won’t be able to do it when you get home. This will also make you look busy, so nobody will come up to you and ask you to help with set-building or painting a banner. Your director would prefer that you use this time to memorize lines and go over blocking, but when you’re trying to get into UBC, AP Calculus waits for no man.

When it comes to eating in the theatre, the only way to escape the throng of hungry cast and crew members is to simply appease the masses. When packing your lunch in the morning, throw in at least 40 extra packets of Welch’s Fruit Snacks, the primary source of nutrition for most theatre kids. When you’re taking the snacks out of your bag, crinkle the packaging a little bit to attract the attention of your peers. This will ensure that you don’t miss anyone, so you won’t have stragglers coming to you later on in the rehearsal when you’re actually supposed to be working. 

As the hungry beasts come running towards the sound of food, grab as many packs of fruit snacks as you can in one hand, and fling them outward as if you’re feeding a group of pigeons. Continue until you either run out of fruit snacks or everyone has a packet. This way, you can ensure that your fellow hard-workers are fed, while making sure they don’t come too close to your food.

If you don’t have a pencil at the end of rehearsal, you will need a sword, a shield, and fire-resistant armor. If you forget your pencil, your director will wait for you to grab one before starting notes. You will have to do the walk of shame all the way to your backpack under the heated stares of your frustrated castmates. Their glares will burn more when you fumble with your zipper, and when you drop your pencil case, bombs will go off. This will add another ten minutes of lecturing to the end of your rehearsal, and everyone will blame you for keeping them in the theatre until 9. To avoid this chaos, keep a pencil in your pocket, or in your shoe, or in your hair. Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Well, in this case, the pencil is above all else.

Live theatre is a beautiful thing. It’s an amazing experience to watch a production, and while sometimes the behind-the-scenes may be tedious, the final result is always worth it. So long as you remember your homework, your snacks, and your pencil, you’re guaranteed to have a great experience putting together an incredible show.

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How to Survive Rehearsal
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