Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Surprising "Real" Reason to Rehearse

We’ve all heard it. In fact we’ve all heard it too many times: a great idea that just doesn’t come off on the air as powerfully as it should have.

Sometimes a bit drags on far too long, lacking focus or a strong close, getting off track and struggling to right itself.

Sometimes it doesn’t go on nearly long enough. Ideas don’t get fleshed out, developed or exploited. The obvious is substituted for the extraordinary.

Sometimes on multi-person shows, some of the players don’t seem to understand their roles and either struggle to contribute or miss opportunities when it’s their moment to shine.

The result is too often the push of a button and the search for something more interesting and entertaining.

The bad news this happens a lot. The good new is this doesn’t have to happen to you.

You only need to do two things: learn how to rehearse properly and then rehearse faithfully.

Unfortunately merely mentioning the “R” word to many jocks causes eyeballs to roll and excuses flow. “I like to go with the moment.” “There’s no time to rehearse.” And my all time favorite, “I like to go for the reaction in the room and rehearsing would ruin this.”
(Oh, yeah. The reaction of one or two other people in the room is more important than the reaction of the 10,000 people listening right now on their radios.)

Actually I’m convinced that the resistance to rehearsal stems from a misunderstanding of the real reason to rehearse: to thoroughly stimulate your creativity, to enhance and enlarge an idea, and to grow your skills and the skills of those around you.

Rehearsing your content has nothing to do with memorizing lines and everything to do with discovering them. A great rehearsal is the opposite of “restriction;” a great rehearsal is about expansion and experimentation. A great rehearsal is about empowering talent to fully exploit his or her skills so that a raw idea can be transformed into an extraordinary piece of entertainment.

Now that you know the real reason to rehearse, wouldn’t you like to try it? Here’s a rehearsal routine you can start using today:

1. Summarize the bit in no more than two sentences including opening, body, conflict, and resolution.
2. Have a “discovery” time with your partner(s). As you share your concept with them, they share back with you how they can best be a participant, incorporating their characters into the concept and expanding on the original idea. Apply the same technique if you’re a solo performer, thinking about how the various aspects of your personality can be leveraged to fully develop the original idea.
3. Edit and block. Expand the strongest points and eliminate what doesn’t add to the entertainment.
4. Do a final talk-through of how this is going to play.

And, while it’s not exactly a rehearsal, listening back to and deconstructing a bit after it has aired will help you see what worked best/added to the bit (so you can do this more) and what didn’t work/detracted from the bit (so you can eliminate or improve).

Rehearsing will improve the execution and performance end of your show of course and that is important.

But the real reason to rehearse is about something much bigger. The real reason to rehearse is to experiment with new ideas, to transform the “average” into the “inspired,” to create stand-out content, and to expand your skills and the skills of the people you work with beyond where they are now – perhaps even beyond where in your wildest dreams you thought they could go.

Are you thinking about rehearsing in a new light? Are you inspired to give it a try?

Let me know how it goes.