The "Probes" of Theatre

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Editor-in-Chief
  • Twitter: @onstageblog

When you're involved in theatre, you're going to hear a lot of weird terminology that you've never heard before. And let's be honest, sometimes we don't want to admit we don't know what they mean. 

Two such terms are the "probes of theatre", they are "sitzprobe" and "wandelprobe". If you've ever wondered what these terms mean, this column will tell you. 

Both these terms usually are put into play towards the end of the rehearsal process and are vital to be done before tech begins. Jennifer Ellis describes "sitzprobe" as this, 

"The term sitzprobe comes to common usage from German, and is believed to have originated in opera. Originally, the term referred to the first run-through of a performance in which both the singers and the orchestra performed together. Often, the sitzprobe is not performed on stage and does not use elements such as costumes, props or scenery. Instead, the singers simply sit or stand and run through the music and dialogue in order with the orchestra attending.

Since its original usage, the term has migrated into many different types of theatrical performance, including those with no musical component. Often, a sitzprobe rehearsal serves as the transition between regular rehearsals between the director and actors, and staged run-throughs of the entire performance. Oftentimes, costume, lighting, makeup, and technical directors attend the sitzprobe to gain an idea of where the actors are in their rehearsals process, and to collaborate on ideas and suggestions that will become part of the final design for the performance."

"Wandelprobe" is basically the same thing except with minor blocking. This is typically done when there are certain time constraints in the rehearsal process. 

Both are incredibly important for the development of any musical. It's where the orchastra and performers can truly blend and learn from one another. 

So if your theatre isn't doing this in rehearsals, get them to do it!