Being a full-time student and involved in two productions is no easy task. Balancing classes, homework, and rehearsals can be a struggle, but my passion for the arts will always draw me back in. Here are some tips on how to balance rehearsals and classes that I learned from my own experience.
1. Go to class
This seems like such an easy task, to just attend class, but many college students find themselves skipping classes from time to time. Whether you're a college actor or not, attending class is the best way to learn new material. Also, you might learn about some opportunities for extra credit that you wouldn't otherwise have known about.
We all have our off days where we cannot bear going to class, but make sure you know the attendance policy of the class you will be missing! This is usually found on the syllabus. Most classes only allow for one to two unexcused absences, so make sure you keep track of your missing class days. If you do decide to miss class for whatever reason, get the notes from a classmate! You never know what material will be covered on the midterm or final. Some classes do record their lectures, so if you do miss a lecture, actually watch what you missed. Even take some notes!
Notes from a friend or watching the lecture on your laptop is nothing compared to the actual experience of being present in the classroom, so make sure you put in every effort to go to class.
2. Be present in rehearsals
Rehearsals after a long day of attending classes can be draining, but being present and in the moment at rehearsal is key. When your director is giving notes, write them down. You don't want to be making the same mistakes twice, so listen actively and keep record of the notes given to you.
Also, don't forget to enjoy the rehearsal process! You are involved because you probably enjoy the craft so make sure to stay in the moment. Make friends with your fellow cast members and production team. With a full time schedule and constant rehearsals, making friends might be a little harder. Your cast members and production team are all there for the same reasons as you, so why not get a few new friends out of it?
When you are present at rehearsal, it makes the performance feel more natural. It also makes the experience more memorable.
3. Memorize your lines as soon as possible
When first given the full script, you might feel as if you have plenty of time before the off-book date. But, with classes, homework, and everything else going on in life, the off-book date will creep up on you sooner than expected. To avoid this, memorize your lines whenever you can. Depending on the size of your role, the process of memorization will vary in how long it takes. If you're a supporting lead or a lead role, try memorizing some lines as soon as you receive the script.
This might seem a little much to you, but waiting until the last minute with memorizing lines is very stressful. Last minute memorization might not "stick" and you will end up calling "line" more times than not.
Waiting until the week before or even the day of the off-book date to start memorizing lines is dangerous territory that you should avoid if possible.
If you do find yourself in the situation where you have none of your lines memorized and it's the day of the off-book date, remain calm. Try memorizing bits and pieces all throughout the day. Give yourself breaks when needed. Don't be afraid to call "line" at the rehearsal and if absolutely needed, use your script for sections that are not memorized. Most importantly, memorize your lines before the next rehearsal!
Memorizing can be a long process, so the sooner you get started, the better.
4. Plan your time
Remember that being a full time student is your number one priority. Make time in your day to do homework and study as well. Time management is essential. Plan your homework and study time around your class and rehearsal schedule. Even wake up an hour or two early to get some homework done ahead of time. Stay up an extra hour to memorize your lines. But, make sure you do get a well rested night of sleep.
Having a monthly calendar spread can help you put into perspective what needs to get done and when. Mark down all rehearsal times, class times, off-book dates, due dates for assignments and performance dates. Having it all laid out in front of you can help you determine how to plan out your days, weeks and months.
When the rehearsal schedule comes out, make sure to check for any conflicts. If you have rehearsal the night before a midterm or final and need the time to study, email your director or stage manager explaining the situation. It's always best to be timely in your explanations. Communication all throughout the rehearsal process is essential for things to run smoothly.
Also, be willing to compromise. If you miss one night of rehearsal to study or do work, offer another time that you're available to rehearse. Everything is about balance.
6. Have fun!
You probably auditioned for the production you're in currently because you love theater. Remember to relax and take a step back. Enjoy your time in rehearsals and doing the thing you love. This is probably an extracurricular activity that you're involved in, so have fun!
This is so different from a classroom or library setting and it's something that not everyone gets to do, so enjoy your time rehearsing and putting on a great show.
Remember to keep a healthy balance of life, school, and rehearsals.