Do you need a break?

Union rules concerning breaks are put in place to promote a creative environment for the rehearsal process. In today's rehearsals, these rules are strictly followed, while the reason they were created is often overlooked. Instead of actors and creative teams working together towards the same goals, actors start working towards the breaks, and creative teams feel they get in the way.

But breaks are not the opposite to rehearsal. They function hand in hand, like breathing in and out. Time off provides a chance for actors and the creative team to go from a fully focused rehearsal into a more relaxed state of mind in order to allow for the next session to be as focused.

Strictly following union guidelines won't allow for people to fully commit to rehearsal. They end up constantly checking their watch and planning what they'll do on their next break. Also, poorly timed breaks will not allow for the cast to rest properly. When a cast is far into a rehearsal process the actors are so involved emotionally and physically, that 10 min is not enough time to regain enough energy to continue.

Strict breaks also can interrupt the flow of rehearsal. It's important for a cast to see how far they've come during rehearsal and to run through the material they've just learned before the break. But when the break interrupts this work, the cast doesn't get to see the big picture of the material they've just worked on. When they get back from break ready for a fresh start, they must revisit the material they had hoped to put a check mark next to.

Common sense, empathy and tuning into the cast's needs should be as important in the decision to take a break as the union rules are. The real question we must ask is: what is best for the actor? The reason union rules are in place is to help answer that question and to avoid abuse in rehearsal, but they must be used in such a way to allow for good rehearsals.

Too strict breaks make people either not committed or overworked, neither of which allows for a fulfilling rehearsal (not for the actors, not for the creative team).

Breaks given at the right time for the right length of time are the key to successful rehearsals.


Picture from http://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships/articles/2039-scholarship-spotlight-you-deserve-a-financial-break-5000


  1. I've never thought of it this way before. Being an artist sure puts things into perspective:-)

  2. Thank you! It's tricky sometimes to think that the best way to follow the rule is by not quite following it!


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