How to rehearse a (radio) play
March 12, 2013 4:42 PM   Subscribe

I've written a radio play, and I'm meeting the cast tomorrow for a rehearsal. This is the first play I've written (let alone a radio play) and I've never acted in anything either, so any hints and tips about how to run a rehearsal smoothly would be greatly appreciated, especially anything that relates especially to radio drama.

Some additional background: There are five cast members, of varying experience, and we're all students. I've met them all before, but only individually when casting. I don't think any of them know each other. I'm not acting in it at all, but will need to read some lines in the rehearsal as not all the cast will be available initially. The play is about fifteen minutes long.

Thanks for your help (:
posted by iivix to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Keep the pages unfastened so that you can lift each one up and lay it down without making a noise.
posted by tel3path at 5:01 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fresh bagels, cream cheese, butter, fresh coffee, tea, sugar/splenda/equal, few bottles water, carrot/celery sticks, dip, extra napkins, 2 extra scripts, Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover stick.
posted by Sophont at 5:21 PM on March 12, 2013

Have a schedule and actually rehearse. Nothing is worse than signing up for some production, showing up to rehearsal, and then just dicking around for two hours because the director isn't directing. Actors, especially in groups, need wrangling. There are no people on the face of the earth as capable of entertaining themselves for endless periods of time as actors. So you have to do a certain amount of getting shit done when you need to work on things.

Don't be afraid to say you're not feeling something or something is happening you don't like. The best actor-director relationships are kind of like dogs and their masters. Good actors like to have some direction. It's better to direct than just being like, "yeah yeah that's great great..." You don't want to do too much "say it this way..." stuff, but you can and should do all sorts of "can you try to be a bit more..." or "I think your character is really ... right now," etc.

I wrote and directed a radio play that ended up on an NPR show once. The only thing that makes a radio play rehearsal really different from any other play is that it helps to practice being quiet. When you're at the studio, you can't be rustling your papers around and things when there's a mic in your face. Don't worry about it while you're working the kinks out, but at some point have a run where everyone pretends their being recorded. It helps.

Snacks are critical, but you've got to hold it over them a bit. Snacks at the break, not the beginning.
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:21 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

make sure all your sfx/cues are in the script
posted by timsteil at 5:22 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you done a read without notes? I haven't acted in a long-time, but I was always really annoyed when we weren't allowed to just, like, go through the material fucking once without the director jumping all over the place. Do a seated table read and then notes afterward.

Available water is always nice.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 5:34 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would not provide cream cheese, butter, or dip, as people who do vocal work probably wouldn't want to eat dairy, even if they're only rehearsing. Honey and lemon for tea are what actors will always ask for. Bring pens and highlighters.

If you're rehearsing somewhere you haven't been before (or in a classroom at a time when the building is usually closed or something), also bring a garbage bag & paper towels so you don't have to waste time hunting them down. There will be trash and people will spill things, which can fluster you if you have to scramble.

A quick run-through on how radio play scripts work (with their particular line numbering and way of stating sound cues) will be helpful so you can then direct people to specific spots in the script later.

Thank everyone up front and stoke their egos a little bit.
posted by bcwinters at 5:39 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

If they don't know each other, maybe schedule some kind of ice-breaker or getting-to-know-you activity to start?
posted by radioamy at 6:34 PM on March 12, 2013

The way that works for me is to do the introductions, plod through the script once while you make notes, then work on fine tuning and notes and whatnot, culminating with a final rehearsal that makes sure the timing is correct.
posted by gjc at 7:55 PM on March 12, 2013

definitely introductions and warm up games
voice warm ups especially important
do a read through for the first time to make sure everyone knows the whole story and theme etc.

In next rehersals do warm ups, then do sections.

If possible schedule rehersals to people with fewer lines aren't sitting around waiting all the time--make a few sessions where they do all their parts.

in later rehersals add sound effect people if appropriate

Try a run with mic and equip

Do a trial run for an audience take feedback

Do the final take

Have a party to listen to it all together
posted by chapps at 11:28 PM on March 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this advice was invaluable, and it all went smoothly and was a lot of fun.

"There are no people on the face of the earth as capable of entertaining themselves for endless periods of time as actors."

This was a new one to me, but totally true, you'd never have known these people had only just met, and if I wasn't keeping things on track they'd be perfectly happy to chat for hours. Great people to get a beer with.
posted by iivix at 4:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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