I think I am obsessed with professionalism in performance groups — people need to be quiet backstage, even if the audience chatter is loud, and they should not mess with the curtains, play with the handicap elevator, and so on. I think it’s a comment on our ADD society that a group of 16 people cannot just stand still and concentrate on the performance to come for 10 minutes. God forbid they have to sing a piece for 10 minutes, I think some might wander off to the bathroom halfway through. Ranting aside, however, I think our performance today was pretty decent, although Poulenc is probably still spinning six feet under.
Marat/Sade rehearsals highlight this problem of people remaining quiet and focussed, although there some fault has to be given to the way in which rehearsal time is (not) used. We go for 4 hours and mostly stand around. In such a visual production, where stage images convey a lot of information to the audience, having bodies to fill the space in rehearsal is important. People start to resent “having nothing to do,” however, and there’s a limit to which you can practice the 3 gestures you have with no context while something else is going on. I’m not sure there is a way to balance the needs of the production against the needs of the actors, but it is true that everyone can get up to 3 units, no matter how many lines they have, and that should pacify psople to some degree. A little sugar to sweeten the deal.