So, before we have a cast for As You Like It, I need to have my metaphorical ducks in a row. There’s a lot of moving parts here. I’ve got 27 roles, 14 actors, and only a limited number of rehearsals to get them ready. (How many rehearsals? you ask… good freakin’ question… without an official announcement of run dates, we can’t set audition dates; without audition dates, we can’t set a rehearsal schedule… but that’s a frustration for a different day’s discussion… hopefully never to be mentioned again…)
One of the things we always ask during the audition process, is what scheduling conflicts does the actor have–what days will be missed. With this information, we can create a rehearsal schedule that maximizes people’s time.
Here’s the thing (this may be obvious for some–especially those who’ve done this before, but I’m not assuming that kind of experience from everyone reading this blog)…
You don’t have to (nor, in my opinion, should you even try) rehearse the whole play (and thus the whole cast) in any single session (at least not until the final weeks). Break it up. If you aren’t going to do the entire play and you are doing just chunks, then you don’t have to do these chunks in order. And thus…
Not everyone needs to be at every rehearsal.
Why should the actor who plays Phoebe–who appears in three scenes–be at every rehearsal? Short answer, she doesn’t. So when does she need to be there?
That is where the appearance grid comes into play.
Once we know what characters appear in what scenes, we can combine roles under the same actor (as I discussed earlier). Then, once we have that, we can begin to see how often certain combinations of roles appears on stage together. For example, Celia appears on stage eight times, and in each case, Rosalind is with her; Rosalind appears in one additional scene (without her cousin). Needless to say, there should be no rehearsal in which the actress playing Celia should be in attendance, while the actress playing Rosalind is not; conversely, there’s no reason for the actress playing Celia to be there when we’re working on our scene #19 (the text’s Act Five, Scene Two), the one Celia-less Rosalind scene.
Of course, scenes are one thing, but not everyone appears throughout a scene…so we need to break those scenes down to pages (which I’ve done with the original appearance grid).
So, with that information, now we can determine who needs to be together for any given number of page.
And with that information, we can group those pages and scenes together for rehearsals.
Once we have all that info, we can combine that with the scheduling conflicts from the actors to build a rehearsal schedule that fits for everyone.
Now once we get to the last week or two, we’ll do complete runs of the acts…and THEN–of course–we’ll need everyone there.
Of course, first I need actors. And for that I need auditions. And for that I need dates to be officially announced.