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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pauley

Rehearsal Safety

I'm supposed to be going back into rehearsal in September. At the minute it would be possible in Tokyo for a cast to meet to rehearse as we are allowed to have gatherings of up to 50 people, but would it be safe? The main problem is space. Rehearsal spaces in Tokyo are small, we often meet in a room that's around the same size as the stage we will perform on. In the past this has been fine, but do we really want the people waiting to come on stage to be standing close together in groups?

Choirs are now allowed to rehearse in New Zealand as long as there are under 100 people. And as long as they have enough space.

2 metres between singers, both side to side and front to back. The conductor should stand as far back from the choir as practicable. Don’t sing in a circle formation – all the singers should face forward.

Other research is emerging that suggests that a distance of 1.5 metres may be enough.

I just don't have that much space and no budget to have bigger spaces. It's hard at times to see past the obstacles but I need to come up with ways to rehearse if the show is going to go ahead in November. I have been thinking about making the following changes:

  1. Individual, not group auditions. The group I will be working for tend to have group auditions so that they can watch the way people interact together, as they don't have callbacks. I want to reduce the number of people who will be in the room together, and I think it's possible to have an individual rehearsal that will work.

  2. Doubling of Cast. I have a fondness for working with large ensemble casts, I have 35 in my postponed production of Cinderella, as I love the sound of an ensemble singing together. But this time I am going to need to cast a lot less people.

  3. Read-through and table work over Zoom. I believe that there are some aspects of rehearsing that could be done remotely. It's not perfect, and the lag can be incredibly annoying, but it could work.

  4. Teaching the music over Zoom. There are many aspects of teaching singing that I don't enjoy doing remotely, but in this case I will not be teaching technique, I'll be teaching the notes of the songs. I can have the backing tracks pre-recorded and I play piano well enough to teach parts.

  5. Small group rehearsals. I have been working on breaking the script up to try to rehearse with the smallest groups possible. I always make sure to schedule well, as I don't like to waste anyone's time, but I do like to have some rehearsals with the full cast in the room. Splitting everyone up is going to affect the unity and bonding of the cast.

  6. Weekly remote cast meeting. I need the cast to get to know each other, and I need everyone to feel like they are an important part of the production. If all my rehearsals involve one or two people it will be possible for some cast members to feel out of the loop as they will miss out on "being in the room".

  7. Creative blocking and movement solutions. I need to think of ways for the cast to be on stage without being overly close together. I need to use all the space available to me.

There will come a point in the process where the whole cast has to meet in a room to run the show. But hopefully by the time that comes around we will have a clearer idea of what is safe, and maybe even have PCR testing and antibody tests available. At the minute I need to make plans as it's incredibly hard to get motivated to work on a script when everything else I was supposed to be working on has been cancelled or postponed. And as for the other major issue, having an audience, I will think about that on another day. I'm trying to take this whole thing one step at a time.

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