The Rewards of Rehearsal Mode: How the Creative Team Benefits

06/25/2015 12:30 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2016

I love sitting in on rehearsals. Some people have their best thoughts while in the shower, I have mine in the last row of the theater. When I have the opportunity to observe performers in rehearsal, I'm there. Because the truth is, I've found there's no better way to get inside a production than seeing an artist at work. Isn't that what the arts field is all about, anyway? Creative ways of thinking, pitching and staging.

A recent rehearsal of "SILENT dialogue" at the Met. Photo courtesy of Met Museum Presents

Performance artists live in rehearsal mode when preparing for a performance, but so does the entire creative team behind the show. It's just as vital. For me it ignites the brainstorming process and inspires, and I'm able to communicate details about a piece more clearly. Ahead of an upcoming premiere, especially a commission, I am in rehearsal mode, too. The team behind the curtain and off the stage benefits as much from the creative process as the artist. In fact, there are a lot of creative phases, and I try to experience as many of them as possible. Everyone has their own methods, and their own ways to communicate energetically about a performance, but here are some that top my list.

Ahead of the season, if an artist or ensemble is scheduled to perform at the Metropolitan Museum, I try to see them perform somewhere else first. Attending a show, even if the program is different, gives you an immediate sense of the artist's style and audience -- understanding the audience is essential. If a concert description fails you, or the marketing language is vague, get yourself a ticket and let the performance speak for itself.

Another relevant experience, if you can get yourself invited, is the artist walk-through. It is, admittedly, pretty unique. When an artist comes by the Met for a walk-through of the galleries, I like to be there when appropriate. This is a newer opportunity for me, and a rarer one, but it is a chance to see what resonates with an artist, like getting into the creative DNA of their work. A walk-through usually occurs in the very early stages of a collaboration, and sometimes even before the artist is commissioned for a piece. So the informality of it is actually its greatest strength. Since the Museum is such a singular place, these walk-throughs of the galleries are absolutely essential for the live arts series. This is often when the artist begins to craft the initial ideas for a new piece, or, at least, gets a feel for what will and won't work for his or her aesthetic. You can sit in an office and talk for days, but the energy of a space is the whole point. If or when that piece premieres, the experiences gathered while on that walk-through just might provide you with insight into the work that would go untapped, otherwise.

Studio visits, as a piece is still coming together, have become my favorite way to source information and inspiration, and discover the finer details of a production. After a studio visit I'm always able to engage more passionately and descriptively about a new work. When it comes to commissions and premieres, sometimes the facts about a performance can be fuzzy, so these studio visits always provide the clarification everyone is craving. Having been to formal studio showings as well as laid back demos, I always prefer the latter. You're able to observe more and get a sense of the authenticity of the work space.

Encourage yourself to experience more and think outside the desk. Experimentation is not just for the artists.