When people first come to my scene study class, they often ask what is expected of them in the way of rehearsal. Of course, that depends on the material, but here’s a model of a good way to start your work on a scene:
Get the material and read the whole play a couple of times. Note your impressions. Then get together with your partner and read the scene a few times, working for your moment to moment connection. Note your impressions of your work with your partner, what you get from him/her, what you can use, and your sense of what happens in the moment between the two of you. Each time you read, start the scene with whatever you found was alive in the previous reading– even if the thing you found is not “right” for the top of the scene (you’re probably not going to play it that way, this is a rehearsal technique). Let yourself grow and change. Think of spending at least an hour or two on this rehearsal. You’ll most likely leave the rehearsal with a point of departure, a place to come from within yourself. You may have found the beginnings of an emotional preparation, an inner object or two, or some ways for you to personalize the role.
THEN, when you’re away from the rehearsal, do what text analysis and homework you would usually do, but make sure it’s informed by whatever came alive for you with your partner. Let your choices “agitate from that essence.” You should come to your next rehearsal with some things to try– certainly a place to come from within yourself, maybe an emotional preparation for the role, or some ideas about the given circumstances, inner objects or substitutions for the other characters as well as for your partner. Start that rehearsal at the table, but go to your feet if you have a strong impulse or if the event of the scene occurs at the table. Work through your list of things to try. Note the new things that may come up, which will give you homework before the next rehearsal.
Try to read the play almost every day. An actor friend working on a play with Kathy Bates asked her about her process. They discussed many things, but what impressed him the most was that she’d read the play sixty times.
You may not have time for more than two rehearsals before class, so bring it in wherever you are with it. Do these things as best as you understand them and, if necessary, ask your partner questions about how we work. Don’t give each other notes or direction. Rather, see if you can enjoy the process of exploration and discovery.
We’ll take a look at the scene in class and go from there.
I love this. I especially like the phrase “agitate from the essence.”