(This isn’t a perfect science, by the way. The level of experience and skill the actors have will have an impact on how much time is needed, too, and the director may have sufficient personal knowledge of his cast’s abilities to know how that impacts rehearsal time. What seems a little scant to you may actually be enough.
But all directors get surprised sometimes. Things that we thought would go so smoothly are a mess, and things we thought would be extremely difficult prove to be very easy for this particular group of actors. But we do the best we can when we plan.)
If the rehearsal schedule is set in stone, but you’ve decided you don’t have enough time to do what needs to be done, what can you do? Generally speaking, the answer is to work harder at home. The more effort you put into preparing for your role when you aren’t at rehearsal will free up time at rehearsal. When you come to rehearsal better prepared, rehearsals become more efficient and productive, both for you and for everyone around you. But here’s a few specific thoughts:
- Memorize your lines as fast as you can. No matter which challenge you’re facing, getting your lines down will make anything and everything easier.
- If your challenge is physical movement that doesn’t involve other actors (much), ask the director if you can come early or stay late to run through those sections on your own. Most directors will be happy to accommodate you.
- If you have complicated bits of physical business (e.g., mixing cocktails), practice them at home until they become effortless.
- See if you can work privately with a scene partner to reduce the amount of time needed to work that scene in regular rehearsals. It needn’t be the complicated scene that needs the extra rehearsal time. Working privately on anything in the play frees up rehearsal time for the tougher stuff.
- If there are very physical scenes in the show that you know will take extra work, ask for a schedule of when those particular scenes will be rehearsed. If you don’t think there is adequate time set aside for them, now is the time to express that concern, because two weeks before opening will probably be too late.