From Lesly

Sage Advice

By lesly kahn | October 21, 2016

This magnificence appeared in my email from MAF.  Thank you, MAF!  It’s fab!  Y’all, please immediately read and do everything MAF says!  MAF is smart!  MAF knows!  MAF rocks!  Go MAF! I’ve edited it down a bit and, of course, added in my own two cents. Enjoy:

To my beloved acting class:   

Why are we repeatedly making the same mistakes?  Why aren’t we creating events, finding reversals, adhering to the stage directions, living in the given circumstances? We are advanced, working, trained actors.  Something must be going wrong in rehearsal.  Frankly, a lot. 

I myself am guilty of many bad rehearsal habits:

  • I text,
  • I zone out when people start directing instead of confronting the issue,
  • I announce and joke about my lack of preparedness (even when I’ve done enough work to dive in, which is a problem a lot of us females probably share),
  • I opt out of getting up, and
  • I often wait until late in the week to do my couch time.

Well, f*** all that! No more! 

I just re-read the Rehearsal Guidelines from Intensive, and now realize how much of what I do is counterproductive.  I have attached them here and STRONGLY urge you to do the same. I am going to be doing my part here by really adhering to these rules and calling myself and others out more often.  We have GOT to keep raising the bar. 




Do not discuss what you think this character should be doing.Do not discuss what you “decided” the scene is about with another group in another rehearsal (seriously, this one kills me. Just because it worked for one rehearsal does not mean we should bronze it and schlep all five tons of it around town ‘til we perform it. If you want someone to try it a specific way, you need to find a Socratic way to communicate that to the actors.

Do not discuss what you think the scene should look like. No one cares what you think, honestly. Just try stuff and provide thoughts.

Do not discuss what you think the network wants. No one cares what you think the network thinks, honestly. Just try stuff and provide thoughts.

Do not discuss what you think this girl sounds like. No one cares what you think the girl sounds like, honestly. Just try stuff and provide thoughts.

Do not discuss how much you prepared or didn’t prepare. No one cares what you do with your day. Just try stuff and provide thoughts.

Do not discuss that you’re off book or not off book. No. One. Cares.

Do not discuss, haggle or quibble about why you can or cannot, or will or will not do it a certain way, or take the note. JUST TAKE THE NOTE. Your job is to be able to TAKE THE NOTE. Not to tell us why you can’t or won’t.


Do not direct from within the scene. DO NOT DIRECT FROM WITHIN THE SCENE. When you are up there acting, that is your own job.  Do not discuss, do not direct, just act.  Listen.  Think.  Do not, under any circumstances EVER suggest something your scene partner should do.  That is a sure fire way to (a) make your scene partner feel shitty, and (b) lose the respect of your colleagues.


Seriously, please stop. EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU REMEMBER EXACTLY how rehearsals are supposed to be run, even if you are fresh out of Intensive, PLEASE REREAD THE REHEARSAL GUIDELINES.




Be on time.

Show up with your couch time done.

Come in, say hello, get to work.

If you’re acting? Run the scene with thoughts you’ve prepared if they show up, or whatever shows up instead.

If you’re on the couch? Coach socratically. ASK QUESTIONS. What’s the genre, what are the circumstances?

If you’re acting? Say, “Yes! Thank you!” And try what is offered.

If you’re on the couch? When things stall, suggest Narrate The Scene, Thoughts Out Loud, Role Reversal, improv, etc. Break it down. Break it down more. Break it down more.

If you’re on the couch? Ask. DO NOT TELL. OMG cannot stress this enough. ASK for genre, circumstances, arc of scene, events.


PLEASE REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-READ Lesly’s Rehearsal Guidelines asap!


Finally, to end on a more fun note, here a couple of fantastic excerpts on acting from Gene Wilder’s autobiography. Thanks to Amber for sharing: 




Yours in the quest to be awesome,