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When Is A Preview Not A Preview? When It's A Dress Rehearsal

April 2, 2010

dress.jpegI know rehearsal periods for theatrical productions are tight in this country. Artists manage to pull of incredible feats i four weeks through sheer hard work, talent and caffeine. But I'm getting a little tired of theater companies using preview performances as dress rehearsals.

A dress rehearsal is not a preview performance. There is no audience at a dress rehearsal. The director has the right to stop and start the action at his or her will, though the proceeding should include at least one "as if in front of a live audience" run-through. A preview performance, on the other hand, should be a finished, ready-to-go product. There are paying customers out there who are there to see a show and want to be entertained.

But for some reason, companies often disregard these facts and treat the preview(s) as if they're just public rehearsals where money has changed hands between the public and the producers. This is not on. There isn't a grey area between rehearsing and performing. The two are distinct and should be treated that way.


  • Chloe, my own understanding of previews is that they are exactly a grey area between rehearsal and performance. Although I actually prefer to think of them as a bridge between these two periods in a production's life. The arrival of the audience changes quite a lot about a performance, and the preview period -- always cheaper than regular, post-opening performances for this reason: -- is the period in which the artists are able to learn how best to incorporate the audience and their response into the production, which often means changing things, sometimes a little and sometimes quite a lot. There was a section in FAUST, for example, that I finally learned how to play in previews. The audience literally taught me how to play it. They were the missing, and key, ingredient in rehearsal.

    Maybe you're referring to some specific incident that you've recently experienced. I'd be curious to know what it is in order to better understand the context of your comments here. But I wouldn't get too down on previews, or elevate them to the role post-opening performances. They do serve a practical function in the evolution of a production.

    Mark J

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At April 3, 2010 at 5:22 PM  

  • point taken, mark
    thanks for writing in
    the reality is that it's a grey area for many companies
    i suppose i just think that it shouldn't be that way
    there should be a clear different between rehearsal, preview and officially opened run.

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At April 4, 2010 at 2:45 PM  

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