Open Forum

1.  Rehearsal times

Posted 05-09-2014 12:32
Please tell me when you have rehearsals, how long they last, and why you have them when you have them.  I am getting extreme pressure to have these after school, and our students that are involved in extras after school are all involved in the same things.  Such as Madrigals, solo/ensemble, jazz band, marching band, voice lessons, numerous sports.  I am trying to put together information for the administrators so we can come to a consensus instead of a demand by them when it will be.  Thank you!

Carol Allen
Head Drama Sponsor
Mahomet IL

2.  rehearsals

Posted 05-09-2014 12:53
Our rehearsals are everyday after school. It has taken a few years for the kids to plan for this, as we compete for the same kids, with sports, music, and every club imaginable. So start with small cast shows and really make a splash with a great show. Then, each year, you will get kids who have chosen to be involved. You can also "share" kids with sports and other clubs if you can speak to coaches and other teachers -- particularly if the student really wants to do the show -- coaches will bend if they have to. (They also have lots of kids that rarely play, so maybe they could give them a chance when the star player has to be at rehearsal!)

The biggest advice is -- don't haphazardly let kids off rehearsal. Instill in them that they have made a commitment and must be there. It still takes time, but it's worth it. I have coaches and parents coming to me to "work out" an arrangement so we all are happy. You can get to that place too, if you are patient and firm.

Ron Wells

3.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-09-2014 13:31
All of my rehearsals are after school. My staged productions meet for about 2 hours a day 3 times a week until tech week. Most of the kids can arrange their jobs around this schedule without much difficulty. I also provide a tentative rehearsal schedule before auditions on my website. At the auditions I inform the kids that if they accept a part they are expected to attend all of their scheduled rehearsals. I've only had to replace actors twice in 6 years for failing to attend rehearsals. 

The kids that have other after-school activities that interfere directly with rehearsals have to make a choice. It's unfortunate but the reality is that they can't do everything in high school. I also create a tracklist and only call them to rehearsals if I will actually use them. The only students that are expected to attend every rehearsal are the student production team and the swings. Everyone else only comes on an as-needed basis. Some of the kids arrange to leave one thing early and get to another late. It's up to them to discuss things with the appropriate adults.

Hope this helps. :)

Shira Schwartz
Chandler Unified School District
Chandler AZ

4.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-10-2014 07:12
Hi Carol, I got this very talk about two years ago from my principal when he was trying to reduce the number of students just hanging around the school after hours. He thought they were there for play rehearsal. Only two fit this category. My defense for evenings was the number of students in other activities who played sports, were on the speech team, in small music ensembles etc. I reminded him that activities enriched their high school experience and it was job to make sure they got the opportunity. Finally, I got through on my point when I explained that my orchestra and vocal director could not be there until the evening either. Nor could any of my parent volunteers. The issue was dropped. I would have your kids who do after school activities speak up and help support you. Doesn't he know what a great drama person he has? Susan ------------------------------------------- Susan Cortesi Director of Theatre District 87 Bloomington IL -------------------------------------------

5.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-11-2014 06:43
Our rehearsals are almost always after school from 3-6. The school was newly built 20 years ago and was in a cornfield, literally, meaning no sidewalks. Because of its location, transportation back to school for evening rehearsals was incredibly difficult. It was nice when I realized these "early" rehearsals allowed me to have evenings to grade papers for other classes or to more easily pick up that forgotten prop from a store after rehearsal. As far as kids who are in sports, etc, that conflict, students do have to make some choices, or be responsible to talk to all involved to work out compromises. Often, though, if a student is playing a fall sport, they will participate in a winter or spring production when they are not in a sport and their conditioning is more flexible. About the only thing we rehearse in the evening is the musical when we need to hire musicians for the pit. ------------------------------------------- Holly Thompson -------------------------------------------

6.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-11-2014 10:04
We rehearse in the afternoons after school-- 90 minutes for a straight play (until tech week when we extend to 2 hours or more) and 2 hours after school for the musical (tech week shifts to evenings and may be as long as 3 to 4 hours).  Mainly for me, rehearsal has to be after school so I can have time with my spouse and family.  If I had rehearsal in the evenings, I would come home to eat and then go right back.  I would have a hard time getting out of the building until 4:30 even without rehearsal going on.

In terms of conflicts, I have tried to work things out with students who are in other activities, but have often found that something comes in 2nd place and for me that just doesn't sit right.  I feel that students need to make choices.  

Students who have jobs is a completely different thing with me-- they go to work from rehearsal often in their uniform, no questions asked.

We do, however, require that students who will miss a rehearsal, must leave me a note explaining their absence in advance and must find a reader for their part in lieu of themselves being present.  This also gives others a chance to grow as well.

Michael Johnson
Trinity NC

7.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-12-2014 22:06
Rehearsals begin at 3:30 and end between 5:00 and 6:30 depending on need.  Run-through week (the week before Tech) rehearsals run from 3:30-6:30 or 7:00.  Tech Week we start makeup calls between 3:30 and 4:30 depending on the size of the cast. Kids come in half hour shifts. Vocal warm ups are at 6:15 with additional warm ups at 6:30 and we start the rehearsal at 7 pm.  I stop in enough time for group notes so I can dismiss them at 10:30.  I know it's late but I have have very few balk.  Kids have time to do homework between 3:00 and 6:15 if they take advantage of it.  They are also expected to be working on homework when they are not on stage.  I feel that it's important to start those last 3-4 rehearsals at the same time as the Friday night show in order for their body/mind to get into the rhythm of it. 

In my opinion, kids have to make choices.  If they participate in a fall sport or are in the marching band, they can't be in the show.  If they are in a winter/spring sport, they can't be in the musical.  (We are on a modified traditional schedule and our musical runs the last two weeks of Feb and the first week of March). Every time I have made an exception, it has bit me in the butt so no more. I don't care if you are God's gift to high school acting or singing, you are not worth the trouble if whole casts and crews are trying to rehearse without you on the stage. 

Helen Dixon
Oakley CA

8.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-11-2014 17:50
I teach HS. I rehearse for the first month 5 days a week from 2:30-5:00, then we start going later, usually till 7.  During the musical, our dance days often start by going to 6 or 7 because the choreographer can only be there a couple of days a week and they need the time.  When i taught middle school, I rehearsed from after school until 5 every day until the final two or three weeks when i would go later.

We often have conflicts with sports, and some kids are forced to make a tough choice.  My general principal is that I will work with any coach to share a kid, but a few won't work with me, and thus kids in those sports have to chose.  However, we are a very large school (10-12th grade, 2,200 + students).  I can imagine in a small school that sharing or either/or might not leave you with enough kids to do a show.

Jeffrey Davis
Plainsboro NJ

9.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-12-2014 09:49
Rehearsals times are always tricky and whatever works for you, your family, and your students is what you should do. I think the important thing to think or ask about is why is the administration pressuring you to change? Perhaps there is another way to alleviate whatever concerns they may have. It may be that the district office is requiring an administrator on campus for all activities. They are already there for other events you talk about and adding an evening for them seems overwhelming. Sometimes there is more than meets the eye on the reason for an administrative request.

One thing that I have attempted  over the last ten years is having rehearsals as part of a class. I never did this as a student, student teacher, or even saw anyone attempt this method. Other theatre teachers in my district even speculated that the stipend would be withdrawn for directing if the majority was done in class. I looked at the music staff who use their entire class time to rehearse for concerts and still receive a stipend and decided to give it a try for my families sake. I just kept imagining the principal telling the choir teacher that all their rehearsals for the concert would have to be done after school-not happening! It was amazing how much I could get done in a class period  (52-55 minutes depending on the day)! When the students and their parents saw the play as an academic activity the overall importance of the show increased. I still do one show a year that has an open casting call plus every class has a small performance element (expect the technical ones-which do a gallery walk of their work). However, the musical and one straight play a year are done by the Advanced Performance class. These students must audition to be in the class and I then work with the counselors to get their schedules arranged to be in the class. It is not always easy, but it is so much better for my personal life and has increased the prestige of being in a show at the school. Some students have chosen to be in the class and their parents pay to have them take an online class such as health or even a world language to keep their schedules free for the AP class. I have afterschool rehearsals for 2 weeks plus the tech week. This allows for the time I need for run throughs, tech, and dress rehearsal. I have one Saturday cue to cue tech and all technical aspects are done in my Stagecraft class or at the exact same time I am after school for the rehearsal those last two weeks. It took some convincing with administration, but I just kept talking about parrody with other groups and since their fears about the shows quality proved to be unfounded, as all the actors were ones that had finished taking my beginning acting class and had to audition for Advanced Performance, (AP theatre as I called it) the plays had serious, high quality actors and technicians. The one play a year that is all school play has a strict no cut policy. Everyone that auditions is in the play. This way everyone on campus can experience being in production and I only have one six week rehearsal schedule after my full school day of teaching!

I think that one of the reasons that theatre teachers burn out is that they keep a schedule that is almost impossible to maintain. Working on three or four plays a year that require you to be five to six days a week in 2-3 hours (or more) following your regular work day. Those hours, as we all know, add up quickly. More that half of the school year you are putting in 60+ hour work weeks. I have had weeks with multiple  performance events that were 90+ hours. That is not good for anyone! Putting some of those ours into our work day helps maintain a healthier balance in life with outside/family activities and actually increases the esteem that parents, students, and administrators feel about the shows themselves.

Good Luck! Leslie

Leslie Van Leishout
Theater Education Coordinator
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Edwardsville IL

10.  RE:Rehearsal times

Posted 05-12-2014 09:51
We rehearse after school 5 days a week 3:30 - 6:00 for Straight Plays and 3:30 - 6:30 for Musicals. With occasional Saturday rehearsals with the time varying typically 10 - 2.  When we hit tech week we go until 7:30 for straight plays and 8:30 for Musicals.  We just did the Wizard of Oz and I added a 10 out of 12 tech day for that one because it was so tech heavy. We did 7a.m. - 7p.m. and had parents provide lunch and dinner. 

As far as conflicts go my kids are involved in tons of other clubs. It's a common practice at my school that I hate, but have no control over.  They have to  turn in a conflict calendar with their show contract.  I only call kids I need for rehearsals and make the schedule based on these calendars.  I also require them to list conflicts on their audition forms.  I won't cast someone who has a ton of conflicts in a large role.  Or, if they are the perfect fit for a large role I will ask them if they are willing to let go of some of their other conflicts.  

If a conflict isn't written on their calendar then they won't be excused for rehearsal.  Any commitments they've made prior to being cast are considered conflicts.  If something comes up during the rehearsal process that they want to do then they can't.  Or they will lose their spot in the show.  This is part of teaching them about commitment. I have had to let a few kids go over the years for missing rehearsal without permission.  Obviously I make concessions for emergencies or illness. 

Kristi Jacobs-Stanley
New Orleans, LA