Are You Ready for a Dress Rehearsal?

A dress rehearsal marks the final opportunity for actors to rehearse a play before an audience arrives. It runs exactly like a performance: all the costumes (the “dress” part of the phrase), lights, props, sound, set and other production elements are present. No one stops or calls for a line. It starts when the curtain would go up on a show night, and everyone, including front of house, stage management, cast, and crew, treats the evening like they would a performance in front of an audience.

The function of this rehearsal is clear: do all the things just like you will when the audience is there, so you have a chance to work out any last kinks, prevent any surprises, and have the best possible opportunity to do a great job on opening night. 

Understandably, the idea of a dress rehearsal has been adopted by other fields, as it’s a handy concept and practice. But I’ve noticed that some of what makes a dress rehearsal most useful can become diluted or garbled as it moves further away from its roots.

So here are a few things to ask yourself before you plan, or agree to participate in, a dress rehearsal:

  1. What’s the purpose? Will everyone feel ready for the real deal after this rehearsal is over?
  2. Is everyone who is participating in the actual event going to be there?
  3. Who is running the dress rehearsal?
  4. How can you prepare ahead of time so the dress rehearsal is as productive as possible?
  5. Is everyone involved treating this dress rehearsal with equal seriousness?
  6. Do you have plenty of time to address issues that come up during the rehearsal afterwards?
  7. And again, because this is the most important question: who is running the dress rehearsal?

It’s important not to short-cut the process. A well-planned and executed dress rehearsal rounds out the preparation process and ensures everyone knows exactly what to do and to expect when the big day arrives.  

Ignite your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter for tips, tactics, videos, and techniques to hone your communication skills.

Pin It on Pinterest