Theatre Thursday

The First Read Through Rehearsal – Unlocking Potential

I’ve been crazy busy.  In the past 8 days I have attended 2 first read through rehearsals for 2 different productions: Lion King Jr (our next after school production) and Noises Off (our next class production).  Sometimes the first read through of a script is called a table read.  This rehearsal is the foundation for the rest of the rehearsal process.

At the first read through, the cast and crew gather with the directing team and read through the script out loud.  Pretty simple.  However, don’t underestimate the power of a first read through.

The first read is the first time everyone gets together to hear the words leap off the page and begin to take on a life of their own.  This rehearsal helps everyone understand the flow of the script, and to begin to understand the weaknesses and strengths of the script.

I like to make a first read through a warm and welcoming experience.  It is good to start with introductions… go around in a circle and have everyone introduce themselves and what assignment they have with the production.    Next I like the directing team to introduce the script and a bit about the vision they have for the production.  I am careful not to go into too much detail.  You don’t want anyone to be too overwhelmed.

Young actors are often nervous.  “What if I stumble over my words?  What if no one laughs when I deliver a funny line?  What If I sing the wrong notes?”  To set everyone at ease I like to keep it light, yet have a bit of business.  I work to keep distractions down.  I try to keep the rehearsal relaxed.  It is important to stress that no one is expected to “perform” perfectly.

Once the first read through is over, we like to take the time to talk more in-depth about the goals, thoughts, and visions for the production.  This is the first “spark” of character work for the actors.  Encourage the actors to share their opinions and their thoughts.  Remember, theatre is a cooperative experience.  Talk about theme… what the play actually means and what you hope the audience gains by participating in the productions.  Share plans of the set and stage layout is they are available.

Actors… this part is for you.  Woot!  You are in a play!  You are now part of a process… a creative process.  This experience is most successful if you have read through the script a couple times before the first read through rehearsal.  Get an idea of what your character is like.  Even write out a few thoughts and questions that you might have in order to share them if the occasion arises.  If you get your script ahead of time, highlight your lines and stage directions in the script.  It will help you focus during the read through.  Highlighting lines is also the first step in memorizing your lines.  If you run into words you are not familiar with, LOOK THEM UP!  Know what they mean and how to pronounce them.

Resolve to have run throughout the rehearsal process.  Remember to be respectful.

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I love how my students help each other.  Just look at these “big boys” helping the “little kids” at out first read through Lion King Jr!  Already we are building an ensemble!

For a musical the next step will be dance…

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… and music rehearsals!

We are off and running!  I love what I do!

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