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Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

  • 1.  Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

    Posted 04-28-2021 07:26
    Hi there,
    We are looking to find some valid research that states the benefits of a standard rehearsal schedule for a show.  Generally, we have gone with the fairly common standard of 9 weeks for a play and approximately 12 weeks for a musical. Our admin is asking us to do a musical in 8 weeks and we are all balking at the idea of trying to cram everything into a time frame that is significantly shorter than we would like. I believe the reasoning is to keep us to a similar time frame as the sports schedule.

    I am looking for some valid research that I can share with my administration that will help state that this is
    • not practical
    • not healthy for the student (time factor and stress)
    • not healthy for the staff involved
    • not quality in the end result
    Does anyone have anything that I can look up that helps showcase the benefits of a longer rehearsal time frame and the drawbacks if pushed shorter.  As an aside, no additional rehearsal time would be given during these 8 weeks, ie: not allowed to have a longer time frame on each day, or add in additional rehearsal days like Saturdays etc..

    I look forward to hearing from the hive mind and hopefully finding resources that we can present to the admin that states that this is an unreasonable task. (my personal opinion after 25+ years in the field... but hey... I guess my professional opinion and that of my coworkers doesn't count).

    Thank you so much for your guidance and assistance.
    I appreciate it.

    Juanita McGarrigle
    Theatre Director
    American Community School of Abu Dhabi

  • 2.  RE: Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

    Posted 04-29-2021 09:49
    I am sorry to hear about your reduced rehearsal time. We do our high school musical in 2 months, but we have 4-5 full day rehearsals on weekends and fall break. In addition to a faculty director, our students are supported by faculty/guest artist music director, a scenic designer/TD, lighting designer, choreographer, costumer, and one to two assistant directors. Our students like us wrapping it up at break neck speed so they can do sports or other activities, and our shows are well-received. However, it would be difficult to do without a team of adults to support the kids.

    One thing we also do is to include rehearsals in the audition week. While we are reading scenes or hearing solos, the choreographer starts staging as part of the audition. We usually have the opening number and part of another number choreographed by the end of audition week.

    Bethany Bohall

    Bethany Bohall
    Director of Fine Arts & Upper School Theater Teacher
    Tobin Fine Arts School at Saint Mary's Hall
    San Antonio TX

  • 3.  RE: Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

    Posted 04-29-2021 15:33
    I'm sorry but I haven't found any research for you. Unfortunately, as I once heard from a colleague, "The muggles have no idea how we make the magic." Here are a few ideas though:

    1) Find the administrator you like/trust the most. Show them your typical, twelve week schedule. Let them know you haven't found a way to omit 4 weeks from this and ask if they have any suggestions.

    2) Give a colleague or administrator a cameo role in a production. I've done this a few times in the past and each of them says, "I had no idea all of the work that went into producing a show." I then ask them to send a write-up (or email a paragraph) to the admin about their experience - what they learned, etc. Each time has been incredibly positive and this feedback helps convince admin to continue to support the program.

    3) Compile research from every Theatre teacher who responds to this post. Twelve weeks is the optimal amount of time to rehearse a musical. It allows students to bond as an ensemble and create a team all dedicated to the same goal. It provides the time necessary to learn music, choreography, and blocking. Students have enough time to memorize and retain everything while maintaining their emotional health and academic work. Musicals also need more time because of their technical requirements. We all want to be proud of our work and not throw something together at the last minute.

    4) We are educators. We want our students to learn from the process of creating a production. Reducing the schedule diminishes the opportunities for valuable teaching moments. 8 weeks is so rushed it is ultimately the students who lose. And aren't we here for them and their growth? What are we teaching them by cutting four weeks  - to rush through things and settle for mediocrity? Would you ask your English teachers to teach To Kill a Mockingbird in two weeks instead of four?

    5) Compromise at 10 weeks if you have to. It's not ideal but it's better than 8. If both sides give a little, at least you gain a bit more time. Our school typically rehearses our musical for ten weeks. We carefully divide the rehearsal schedule ahead of time and often work things simultaneously. Luckily, we often have three classrooms we can use (four if you count our student orchestra). While the choreographer works a number in a large space, I'm staging scenes with other characters in my classroom. If there are still others who have solos and duets, they work with the musical director at the same time. Eventually it all comes together. Not sure if this will work for you.

    Best wishes,

  • 4.  RE: Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

    Posted 05-03-2021 15:48
    I'm going to go the other direction here, and ask what it is that you need 12 weeks to do? This is not a critique, because it's clear that it works for you and that's what you're used to. But do you NEED it? It might be a useful exercise to look at your traditional 12 week schedule and see what parts of it you can condense or omit for a "streamlined-by-necessity" process.

    It might feel rushed, but you might find you prefer working with more velocity. In my experience as a director and producer, the most time I've ever spent on a full length musical was seven weeks, and six for a straight play, so I know it's possible. I'm not sure what I'd do with a longer schedule than that - I'd love to see what you do with that much time!

    Josh Kauffman
    Teacher, Thespian Society/Drama Club sponsor
    Winfield City Schools
    Winfield, AL

  • 5.  RE: Valid research related to time frame of a rehearsal schedule

    Posted 05-06-2021 10:05
    I know it's frustrating to not have administration that understands what it is we do and why/how we do it.

    Sometimes I find it's helpful to compare myself to a sports team if that's easier for them (and especially if they are already making that comparison). So the football team for example has about half as many students as I do in a major musical production and they have 5 coaches and at least one trainer at my school. They condition in the spring and summer and practice and play through the fall for just that one sport. The coaches also receive a lot more support in the form of things like larger supplements, summer pay, and even extra planning periods during the school day to handle paperwork and prep. If administration asks you to work in the same time frame as they do, then request the same consideration. With 6 adults (I'd argue we should get double because we have at least double the kids "on the field"), extra time and money, and the ability to train students in the spring and summer to prepare them for your "musical season" of course you could do the same as a sports team in terms of final rehearsal schedules for a show! Find out what sports teams get at your school and ask for ALL of it.

    No they aren't going to give you all the same as sports, and explain to them that you are okay with that, but in return you need to be able to set a schedule that fits and works for you given that you completely understand that what you do is different and therefor requires perhaps different needs. They are never going to quite understand what you do, but I bet they don't want to give you what they do the sports teams and thus perhaps will not question your timeline and other needs in turn. Obviously be cool and kind about bringing this up, but be firm too. You have a right to set the structure that meets your needs not only as an educator and theatre professional, but as a human being. I hope this helps and maybe it wouldn't work, but rather than finding research to supports them better understanding theatre (which they probably aren't interested in), provide evidence on the ground at your school that supports extra-curricular fairness if that is what they want to happen.

    Kathleen McNulty Mann

    Program Director & Theatre Teacher
    J.R. Arnold High School
    Thespian Troupe 6371
    Panama City Beach, FL