Rehearsal periods can vary in length before you get into the actual theatre to do what is called the tech (technical rehearsal for lights, effects, props etc.). Different companies rehearse over different periods depending on the production and the amount of money in the budget! For me, four weeks is about average, so this three week rehearsal period we have for Aladdin is a smidge shorter – especially as we are creating an ensemble piece with singing and chorus numbers as well. (Though my good friend David, who rehearses pantomimes in a week, thinks it’s a luxury!) But either way we are working really intensely, and this week I’m feeling it.
We’re half way through our rehearsal period and the show has taken enough shape now to see how much or how little we have to do, yet not enough shape to have the safety and solidity we’ll have once the show is up and running. It’s an in-between time, and it can be really emotional. The rehearsal period is – of course – the time to explore all your choices and ideas before selecting which ones work. But, when you are in a new group, suggesting and trying things (some of which will inevitably fail) takes courage. Add to that physical and mental fatigue, illness, being away from home (and its support network), stress etc and you can end up with a roller coaster of emotions.
Now, I love acting because it uses all aspects of being human; physical, intellectual and emotional, but this too can add to the rollercoaster of moods. Without spoiling the show for you my character, Mother (I have no name) experiences both grief and guilt in the show, as well as joy and jubilation. At times, Mother is so overwhelmed and exhausted she just faints. This week, Mother and I feel pretty similar!
I have been up and down through a whole range of emotions. None of which have any real reason to them other than it’s just the process of the show. We’re all being changed by the process. We’re absorbing, creating, improving, learning. And I am hugely grateful for that. That is what I want to do daily. But it is a stretch at times, and that can feel painful, like a muscle being broken before it heals back stronger than before.
I’m a big believer that emotions are just energy in motion and the best way to release them, to move on, is to simply and unapologetically experience them. Fortunately as Mother I can release some of mine in disguise, as it were, in the scene. But also, though it can feel lonely at times, I’ve been reminded this week that I am not alone. I am in a company, and in Aladdin I am in good company. Despite a lot of hype about the industry being competitive I find most good actors share their talent on stage and share their vulnerabilities off stage. It bonds and unites a cast to do so. Which makes for a nicer human experience as well as a better show.
After all, we’re all in the same boat – a metaphor that will seem much more relevant and unoriginal once you’ve seen though show, but not that much more.
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