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The Green Room: What part of staging a production do you enjoy most?

Many actors enjoy the rehearsal process at least as much as performances. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Meet our panel: We have given our panellists pen-names and used stock images but their biographies reflect their real career details…

Albert_Parker

Albert Parker is 58 and has appeared as a regular in soaps, two BAFTA award winning sitcoms, theatre and TV

Jane-Keeling

Jane Keeling, 52, trained as a stage manager and has been an assistant stage manager, deputy stage manager and company stage manager

Tina-Cerrito-

Tina Cerrito is in her 20s. She has worked on a number of productions in leading
new writing theatres, as well as film work

Peter_Quince

Peter Quince is a 71-year-old actor working in theatre and television

Adam_Gale

Adam Gale, 39, is a director who has worked extensively on musicals. He has taken many shows to Edinburgh and runs a youth theatre

Dale-McKenna

Dale McKenna, 25, trained at Laine Theatre Arts. He has performed in West End musicals and is currently touring the UK

Jane I love the first run-through, especially if it comes together better than expected. It’s such a pleasure to see the work we’ve been doing start to form. As a deputy stage manager it can be incredibly satisfying. But not all first runs are enjoyable – some are a nightmare.

Adam I like it when you’ve blocked everything and want to make it better. Then everyone knows what you’re aiming for and you can really play around and create some magic.

Dale I love seeing people in costume for the first time. It’s like stepping into another world.

Peter I like it when a director (or another actor) makes you see something with a fresh eye. Or the first time people laugh at something you didn’t realise was funny.

Thomas As long as it isn’t your death in a tragedy, Peter.

Peter It’s like Chekhov: the characters think they’re in a tragedy but the audience reminds them they’re in a comedy.

Adam I love the sitzprobe in a musical.

Jane Yes – that first rehearsal with the band is magical. I wonder if musicians love it as much as us, or if they find it nerve-racking?

Albert I just love rehearsals. Playing and experimenting. After the first few performances I can get bored quite quickly.

Dale Surely you have to keep experimenting throughout a run, though, Albert?

Adam I love developing the characters of the ensemble – fleshing them out and creating a community.

Albert I also like it when it all starts to come together – when you run a whole section, and other members of the company get to see what you’ve been doing, and you get to look at the bits that you’re not in.

Peter I quite like sitting round a table before you put the show on its feet. Some people find it boring, but I find mining the text fascinating.

Dale Getting to know people in the early stages of rehearsal is awesome – going to the pub after a hard day.

Thomas I find the pub bit terrifying.

Dale You aren’t drinking enough.

Peter I’m always the first to ask “Anyone going to the pub?” after the first day of rehearsal.

Thomas Well – you never want to be the member of the company that drinks ‘too much’.

Peter Is that because you’re a director, Tom? Do you like to keep your distance?

Thomas I tend to think that time is for the actors. As director, you need to give them some space and not tag along all the time.

Peter We do all talk about the director in the pub. Usually affectionately – but not always.

Dale l like chatting to a director about normal life – getting to know them as a friend as well as my boss.

Thomas Directors don’t talk about normal lives – just art.

Adam Sometimes that’s when the cast starts to see you as an actual human being. I worked on a show with a bunch of graduates last year and they were terrified in the rehearsal room at the beginning and were afraid to offer ideas. Midway through the second week we went to the pub and just had normal chat. The next day they were much more relaxed and the whole process took on a different level.

Peter In the best companies, which are truly supportive and collaborative, I find actors give each other informal notes in the pub. At its best it’s constructive.

Thomas That can be dangerous. Actors giving each other notes so often goes very wrong.

Peter I did say “at its best”. Often you can tell an actor what the director wants using more accessible language.

Thomas If the director isn’t using accessible language, he or she is a terrible director. The job is all about communication.

Tina I love getting the play on its feet and exploring. Playing around with different options and connecting with the actors around you is the best part.

Albert When I’m directing, I like that stage in rehearsals when books have gone down and actors start to play.

Thomas It’s great when the actors start to own it.

Albert Good actors who are not averse to change start to throw light on the production and change your ideas as a director.

Jane Does that ever threaten you as a director?

Albert Always happy to incorporate actors’ new ideas. It’s still my name on the poster.

Tina There is nothing like feeling you have made a new discovery in the rehearsal

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