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What not to rehearse with actors

A picture I did (of an artist) in Tuesday morning's art class. The best stress relief ever! Drawing is like meditation. Not like Saturday. The kids I teach Saturday are in 2 groups.
  1. The 9-12 year olds
  2. The 15+ y.o. teenagers
The differences in behaviour between these two groups is vast. There is no professional approach to acting at all for the younger, immature kids. It's completely a game. The director is merely a part of that.

Things not to rehearse with 10 year olds

When I say not rehearse, what I mean is - just roll the camera and go for a take. Rehearsing is never taken as seriously as a camera shot. On tape, with a tiny crew (ie. me on Saturdays) and with kids as my subject, I shoot all "rehearsals". Young kids get bored and soon wander off to the toilet - or to Mum - or to get a drink.

Instead of rehearsing, just shoot whenever a child has to:
  • hold hands, touch or hug another (unfamiliar) child
  • do a fake fall or punch
  • cry
  • do anything that is going to require concentration

Things not to rehearse with teenagers

  • Kissing
  • Fighting
  • Hugging or getting close in any way to an (unfamilar) teenager
<>Teenagers will only kiss each other if they like each other. It's an uphil battle if they have to do a first kiss scene. Adults will grin and bear it. But, as I found out on Saturday, just saying stuff like "That didn't look real. She's in tears and needs you. You two weren't close enough," resulted In one of the most touching teenage performances I've ever seen.

Erica and Kelly (male) were laughing after the first take. Erica's character was in tears because of the daily feeding ritual she had to go through (because she was living with cancer). Kelly came in and gave her a blokey pat on the back. We all knew the scene didn't work. It was then simply a matter of gettnig them to solve the problem.

And I'm glad we didn't rehearse it. I, as director, gave them permission (my job) to get as close to each other as possible. On the first take, Kelly was really nervous about going up to Erica and hugging her. And, because I was recording the rehearsal, that nervousness came right through the lens. The scene was perfect. Two teenagers huggin each other for the first time.

It was real because it was really happening. That's why you don't rehearse some things.

Things not to rehearse with adults
  • Sex . . . basically.
Good adult performances are the ones that come from within. Directors needn't know why or how or what the actors are chanelling. In fact, it's none of our business what the actor is thinking of / emotionally remembering.

We need to respect actors and record sensitive rehearsals as often as possible. With new digi/tape technology, such an approach is becoming increasingly possible.


Nelson Clemente said…
I remember my first on stage kiss. What an uphill battle that was! It was only until the very last few rehearsals before the show opened that we finally got it 'right'.


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