How to stage a successful production: Team work
In part 1, directors Freddy Tan and Fa Abdul listed 4 steps to preparing for your production – that’s why this list starts at point 5.
So once your ideas and people are in place, it’s time to:
5. Create a production calendar to make full use of rehearsal time
This is something that most Malaysian productions don’t do that well. Worse still, they may make a schedule but not follow it. If you show discipline, your team will follow suit. Freddy suggests having the schedules online so that everyone can refer to it anywhere they go. We recommend Google Calendars. Freddy insists that, “Rehearsal schedule planning is crucial, SM/PM needs to check with director and push for the schedule to be as efficient as possible, and keep to the time. “
Everyone is busy, of course, and often actors have day jobs, so it is important to stick to the allotted times. If you need more time, ask beforehand.
Use rehearsal time to check progress and get feedback. Fa believes that in addition to the production manager, you must get feedback from the director, stage manager, music director, choreographer and actors to help you stay well informed.
6. Manage expectations and be a leader
We Malaysians love our smartphones, but is it okay with you if they are out during rehearsals? When can your actors take a cigarette or phone break? Different people work differently, and the sooner you set down the ground rules, the easier the next few weeks will be. Freddy says, “During the first meet, the director and sometimes production team should explain how they work. Elaborate on the working process and why it is done this way.”
Fa recommends maintaining strict professionalism. Being friendly to your team does not mean allowing them to do as they wish. Remember, this is your production and it is a manifestation of your ideas, so where needed do not hesitate to step in and make sure your voice is heard. Fa insists on keeping private matters private, “At all times, cast and crew must never allow personal emotions into the rehearsal process.”
7. Ask for help if you need it
If you run into an issue you have not dealt with before, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from other people in the industry. The industry is so small and you will be surprised by how much we want to help each other. But should you need to call in a select audience to preview the run; justify it.
“Remember that all actors are insecure in their own way; so, if the production or creative team decided to call in any outside personnel in to observe the run or rehearsal, brief, debrief and justify this to your actors. Why are you doing this? Is it because you’re unsure about a certain aspects? If yes, specify which. The last thing you want, is for your actors to think that the director is insecure about his own show. If they don’t think you capable, they will lose confidence and ultimately interest in the production.” warns Freddy.
8. Make sure that actors forget about the audience, but not about the production and creative teams.
The production team must attend to everything from the comfort of the house (theatre), (temperature, smell, seats, etc) to front of house (FOH). They need to worry about whether lights are glaring into the eyes of the audience, whether actors can be heard and whether there are unwelcome sounds or echoes. Everything and anything that could affect the audience experience should be addressed and dealt with from pre-production all the way till the show is up and running.
Make sure that your actors recognize the vital role these teams play in your performance, and that it’s because of the hard work of these teams that actors can focus on acting.
At the end of the day, have fun with your production!
Looking for rehearsal or performance spaces, check out ARTERI space listings: https://www.arteri.com.my/new/venues/