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How to plan rehearsals

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”
Thomas Edison

Is it too obvious if we start with the bold statement that ‘you must have a plan’?  We all know that things can go awry or take longer than you expected, but you have an immovable deadline – curtain up – and everyone involved needs to know how they are going to get there.


Here are some tips and things to consider

  • Always work backwards from the production dates
  • As a very general guide 1 minute of performance will need 1 hour of rehearsal – if that sounds like a lot it is probably what you are already doing.  A 50 minute play will need up to  50 hours of rehearsal time.  That’s about 16 x 3 hour rehearsals but don’t get too tied to this, we all work with what we can
  • Include production and technical meetings into the plan but don’t try to do these during rehearsals
  • Collect everyone’s availability and plan rehearsals around this – you don’t need to rehearse the play chronologically and you will need to plan for people being away.  It also helps to manage unexpected absences if you know who else is available and can rehearse a different part of the play
  • Stagger call times so that you don’t have people sitting around doing nothing.  If they want to come along so that they can practise their lines with someone, only allow this if you have a separate space
  • Have a plan for how you cope with last minute absence due to sickness or emergencies – who and how do individuals get in touch, who will do a phone around to see if you can bring in actors from other scenes so that every bit of time is utilised
  • Make sure that you have a realistic start and end time for people – there is no point in starting at 7 pm if most of your cast can’t make it until 7.30
  • When it comes to the start time, ask people to arrive 5 – 10 minutes before this so that you can start on time
  • Identify which areas of the script are more complex and will need more rehearsal – build this into the plan.  Don’t make the mistake of allowing the same amount of time for every scene.
  • Don’t build in too many run throughs from the start of the play  in the early rehearsal period – it will lead to an over rehearsed start and under rehearsed finish
  • Publish the plan and make sure everyone knows what is being rehearsed when – ask actors  to come prepared (this might just mean reading through the pages beforehand)


Having a realistic plan is essential to success and to help everyone to understand what is expected of them.

Related resources

SCDA resources


Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

This workshop aimed at Directors, looks at the preparation required including rehearsal planning.



Additional Reading


Website Cast98 – lots of good advice.  Please note the rant for community theatre about staggering call times for actors.  People have busy lives and expecting them to sit through 2 hours of early rehearsals when they are only needed for 5 or 10 minutes is unreasonable



Theatrefolk blog


Theatrefolk blog – although this is focused on school productions, the principles are the same and there is a free downloadable template





Free downloadable pdf example of a rehearsal schedule