Working with all actors, establishing rules and expectations doesn’t make you strict; it makes you fair. When working with young or beginning actors, whether in a classroom setting or in a production, clear expectations and consequences stated up front are important for establishing a safe and productive environment. It allows student to know what to expect. Once you have your goals clearly in mind, you can create your rules and expectations. Listed are some are5 standard rules that all theatre programs have in place. Others are for programs with higher expectations of their advanced students.
- Attend all rehearsals. There are variations on this one, please use your better judgment. Some absences are allowed or maybe only absences from important rehearsals like dress or tech are forbidden. Always check with the stage manager on each set for rules and regulation as they may be slightly on different sets. You should consider the reality of illness or emergencies when defining your rule and let your cast know who they should contact if they become ill or have a conflict. And be honest with yourself. Do you really want to have your leading lady at rehearsal if she’s unable to give her best and risks infecting the rest of the cast? Remember there is always a stand in ready to take over your part.
- Tardiness is not permitted. Always make sure you arrive at the theatre 30 minute or earlier. It can also be time for the actor to prepare their craft. Is a tardy if they walk in the door right as rehearsal begins? The director will frown on tardiness.
- Sign in and out at every rehearsal and performance. Keeping track of attendance is useful in many ways. Most importantly for theatre programs is knowing whether your entire cast has arrived before curtain so you can be certain the show can go on. Taking attendance is practically a safety requirement.
- Do not bring banned items to any rehearsal or performance. Beyond the obvious things like drugs and alcohol, there may be things you’d prefer were left at home or put away. Cell phones and MP3 players may cause inattentiveness or unwanted distractions. Ink pens may be banned, as directors often prefer that notes be written in pencil so they can be changed. You might even ban food or drinks because they could damage the sets or curtains. Remember to follow all rules on set so that things can run smoothly.
- No gum allowed. Besides the fact that kids stick it everywhere, causing a real mess, it’s also a fact that few kids — or adults for that matter — can’t speak clearly with a wad of gum in their mouths. Just don’t bring gum to the theatre.
- Never eat or drink while in costume. Because spills and stains happen very often. When in costume the actor should be in the green room ready to be called or waiting in the wings ready to go on stage.