STEP 4: Rehearsals
Rehearsals are the spaces where you can experiment, play and try out different tools and languages that will give shape to the digital staging.
Not all rehearsals have the same objectives, as they can be technical, creative or with an audience, and they can be carried out separately or within the same day, depending on the availability of the group.
For this step, the competences to be included are:
Autonomy and initiative:
Despite being in a collective activity, these personal skills are also necessary during the rehearsals as each participant will work on its own character.
Indispensable for the development of this step, as rehearsals are always collective processes of check and adjustment of the script, the play and the staging as an entire process.
Planning and organisation:
This is the skill that on the one hand facilitates time management and meeting deadlines, as well as using human and material resources optimally and efficiently. Necessary for the development of each rehearsal.
This skill refers to the contribution to the achievement of the expected objectives, developing specific activities to reach them. It is particularly detail-oriented, thus ensuring that procedures are properly developed.
For further clarification of this step, the following activity is suggested:
A comfortable and uncluttered space should be considered, because this activity involves the body.
In addition, it is recommended to train beforehand to facilitate the improvisation process (a detailed activity sheet for Training is enclosed in the following step)
The improvisation activity will be divided into four stages, which can be carried out in sequence or separately, depending on the needs, objectives and background of the participants.
Tip: In case you work with non professionals in theatre, you might want to put emphasis on the improvisation as it is an important tool to familiarise and structure the characters and allow participants to engage more with the roles and play.
- Inhabiting the character: Initially, each actor is given a space for exploration, as to connect and become aware of their own body. Then, by means of indications from the Direction, they will be guided through questions, to begin researching on how to embody the character, the corporeality and kinetics of the character.
Some helping questions to lead are:
How does your character breathe? How does your character sit? How does your character look? How is the character’s voice? How does he/she write? How does he/she eat? etc.
Example: After the individual exploration, the director proposes a concrete situation to improvise in pairs. The characters are two neighbours who argue on the phone because one of them makes too much noise at night.
The duo will have to improvise a phone call. Some guiding aspects are given:
- The first phone call will be with invented language.
- The second phone call will be with words.
- The third prompt is for each of them to add a physical action that the character would do while talking on the phone (eating, getting dressed, tidying up, etc.).
The facilitator (be it the Director or other) can add more indications this exercise invites participants to explore the level of voice and movement as well as exploring the opinion of each character about a conflict and the relationship between the characters.
The facilitator (be it the Director or other person) will conduct an interview with each character with key questions that help to define their biography or the information necessary to nurture the staging. Some basic information that can be gathered is:
Full name, age, marital status, origin, occupation, circumstances prior to the theatrical action, what is your objective in the play, what is your relationship to the other characters, etc.
Character and digital networks: The aim is to find out how the characters are performing in digital media. The facilitator will ask each character for information regarding:
What are the social networks they use the most? How does your character write on Whatsapp? What stickers and/or emojis does the character use? Does the character send audios, photographs? Does the character use memes? etc.
Example: The facilitator asks the cast to improvise a scene in a Whatsapp group, which will be created on the spot and propose a family group on Whatsapp. One of the family members will send a homophobic meme. Each character will have to take a position and react. While the group is being created, each actor will be given a few minutes to choose a profile picture and whatsapp status for the character.
Once they are ready, the action will be given and the improvisation will begin.
It is recommended to regulate the timing of each stage.
Consider keeping a record of the activity as archival material or to continue the research process of character creation. A good way to do so is to have a designated person to take minutes and keep record of all ideas and interventions during the improvisation. It is recommended to use a software that allow to work collectively on the same document
As in face-to-face work, digital context also requires including actor training in the rehearsals, as it allows participants (being professionals or non professionals) to be more and better prepared for their performance. In this case, the focus should be on the digital context, as described below.