An Actor's Perspective: When the Panic Sets In

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • OnStage Columnist

Rehearsals are progressing, things are moving along the set pieces are coming together, all seems to be going well. Except wait, where does my scene fall in the order, what song is before mine, am I going to run into other actors, or moving set pieces during a scene change? There is still so much I don’t know and I am not sure if we are going to be ready as a cast either.  

As an actor, we feel like rehearsals are moving along great.  We get that comforting feeling the first time we get all the lyrics and notes right to the tough songs we have been learning. Or the first time you actually get the choreography right while singing. Just when you think things are going great…WHAM! Your brain thinks of 20,000 questions you need answered because you aren’t nearly as ready as you think you are.  

Panic sets in and you aren’t sure what to do. Then as quickly as you started to panic you have the rehearsal where all the different elements start fitting together. I like to call this the “Ah Ha Rehearsal,” similar to an “Ah Ha Moment.” You realize that the show will come together, your 20,000 questions will be answered and it is going to be a great production.  

Those rehearsals can leave you on such a high. We just had one in our rehearsal process. I wasn’t feeling like I knew the flow of the show or who would be coming in where. All it took was one rehearsal though and now I know the flow, I understand who is coming on and off when, how props and sets are moving and our show will be great. I left with that amazing feeling that we have taken the next GIANT step in getting to our common goal of having a great show. 

It also left me with a feeling of wanting to do even better. Yes, we all try to give everything we have every night at rehearsal. Let’s face it though, this is community theatre and we all have long days before we make it to that evening rehearsal. So, “giving it our all” can mean different things to different people on different nights. Last night everyone was on their “A-Game,” we were more cohesive as a cast than we have ever been, we accomplished so much in one night and it left us all on this incredible high after rehearsal.  Why wouldn’t I want to feel that again?  
So what am I trying to say here? Enjoy the rush of a great rehearsal, bask in it for a few hours. Then work your bum off to make every rehearsal going forward that amazing.  If you do, nothing will stop you and your audience will appreciate all the hard work. So, leave your other worries behind, become your character and live in your stage moment.  After all, what’s the best thing that can happen after an “Ah Ha Rehearsal?” Another “Ah Ha Rehearsal!”