Author Topic: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals  (Read 2830 times)

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SMscuba

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REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« on: Apr 09, 2014, 02:00 pm »
The other day in rehearsal things got tense and there was this really weird energy. It was the first rehearsal off book and people were goofing around, so the director said something a little harsh (but not unjustified) to get them back on track. After that the actors started working harder, but also messing up more and blaming each other. Our normally relaxed and friendly atmosphere turned into something aggressive and mildly antagonistic. Nothing blatant was said, but I could tell everyone was tensing up and it got uncomfortable. Everyone left at the end of the night feeling stressed. 

What I'm wondering is, has anyone ever had a similar situation where things got tense and you decided to stop the rehearsal and address it? If something happens that effects everyone in rehearsal, would you stop and address it, take a 5 and hope people cool off, or just keep going?

Of course, the answer is pretty much always "It depends," but does anyone have an anecdote or advice they'd like to share?
« Last Edit: Apr 09, 2014, 02:01 pm by SMscuba »

KMC

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #1 on: Apr 09, 2014, 11:04 pm »
If the rehearsal becomes unproductive moving forward on the same trajectory isn't beneficial to anyone.  I don't know if outright addressing it would make it more or less tense/awkward. 

This is one of those situations that sets good SMs apart from great SMs.  There is a big difference between managing people and group dynamics and just moving procedurally from A to B to C to get the show up.

I think you're on the right track with calling a break, maybe approaching some folks who were the most affected on break and try to casually press the reset button. 
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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VilleSM

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #2 on: Apr 11, 2014, 05:34 pm »
As an ASM, I've been working for a company that has a Resident SM who feels strong ownership of the space and is quick to call people (including directors) on moments that are unproductive to rehearsal. When things get tense, she will almost always call a ten and make everybody leave the rehearsal space, even if it's just to a lobby, dressing room, whatever. Then, while she deals with the person who has caused the issue, I check in with everybody, to make sure that they all have what they need and are going to be okay for the rest of rehearsal.

I think this tactic works very well - especially making them get out of the space with the negative energy, which also makes people step away from one another.

If it continues to be an issue, is there a Producer/Artistic Director you can talk to if you don't feel comfortable speaking one-on-one with the Director. A negative rehearsal room quickly becomes toxic, and it's best if everybody can feel safe and able to work.

(Also: I always keep 2-3 stress balls in my kit. If I see somebody starting to tweak, I toss one their direction.)
"The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life." - Oscar Wilde

SMrose

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #3 on: Apr 12, 2014, 04:51 pm »
I've worked with a few directors who, when actors lose focus and/or tensions build in an unproductive way will stop rehearsal and call the cast to a group warm up/relaxation/vocal warm up (any or all of those warm ups).  This helps everyone focus and let external things go.  Once regrouped in a positive way, rehearsal resumes.

MatthewShiner

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #4 on: Apr 12, 2014, 06:17 pm »
Oh this is so hard to answer . . . and experience will help you down the line.

My gut would be sure, call a break . . . but you would have to know the temperature of the room - is that going to make it MORE tense . . . in one situation of my history, when a break was called, there were calls to agents, threats of quitting/firing, etc . . . that may have been calmed down if we addressed it during the rehearsal time.

And maybe the director wants the room to be tense . . . if people aren't off book and are supposed to be . . . maybe a bit of tension is okay. 

I think it really depends on what you are the director are aiming towards.

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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

LauraB

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #5 on: Apr 12, 2014, 08:41 pm »
I think Matthew makes a really good point about tension sometimes being ok.

I always want to rush in and make things better for everyone, but sometimes people are supposed to know their lines and don't and it helps everyone's work ethic to see that that sort of behavior is not tolerated. It can be hard to ride it out, but sometimes you have to.

On the other hand, I've also been in situations where the tension just keeps mounting and furious people do not work well - separately or together. You have to know your actors - will they respond to a break, some fresh air, and a brief conversation with you about whether they are ok? Can the director move on to a different scene or moment and come back to what is causing the problem later on when people have cooled off?

VSM

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Re: REHEARSAL: Tension in Rehearsals
« Reply #6 on: Apr 13, 2014, 10:57 am »
I've talked many an actor "off the cliff..."
All of the above are good methods of dealing with the situation.
A nice walk, outside if possible, to let the actor vent his/her frustrations.
Many times simply letting the actor vent will serve to release any further tension...
Ordo ab chao

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