Notes from a Stumble Through Rehearsal

This ensemble rolls with the punches but comes out swinging. 

Last Thursday and Friday night we attempted to perform a “stumble-through” rehearsal of all five acts of Twelfth Night with both casts. I knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk for a multitude of reasons. As we near the end of the first marking period, tensions always run high, especially amongst the Juniors and Senior in the cast. I’ve had several conversations with the cast about the need for self-care and doing what makes them happy (even when that means taking a break from rehearsal) and not just doing what is expected of them. While I marvel at just how much these young people accomplish on a daily basis, I struggle with feelings of guilt when it comes to adding to this enormous workload with the daunting task of mastering the work of the Bard. I comfort myself with the knowledge that they are receiving a tremendous educational benefit from this work, but sometimes I wonder just how much they can be pushed considering all that they do.

The stumble-through curveball 

Last Friday evening we were well into our stumble-though in the auditorium when we were dealt an unexpected curveball: the band needed to warm up for the football game in the auditorium. Being relatively new to the Herndon community, I was fairly oblivious to the game schedule, but not so oblivious as to stand in the way of the Pride of Herndon’s success at the game (the Hornets won the game, btw.).

Performing admirably under less than ideal circumstances.

Both casts were unfazed by having to scramble into a different space with no more than a few minutes’ notice.

With no more than a few minutes notice, the cast and crew high-tailed it over to the drama classroom and we all piled in to continue the stumble-through. Not only did we keep our momentum despite being totally uprooted, the cast performed brilliantly. Perhaps it was the sense of urgency they received from the curveball, or perhaps it was the end-of-the-week catharsis everyone needed, but I was so proud of the ensemble in that moment. I was reminded of the words of one of my favorite directors, Kama Ginkas, who used to say, “Obstacles are our savior. If you step into the boxing ring (one of his favorite metaphors for theatre) thinking you’re not getting punched, you’ll end up flat on your back.” After the versatility and perseverance of the ensemble on Friday night, I feel we are going to deliver a knockout of a production.

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