The Dress Rehearsal

In more theatrical or alternatively-designed productions, performers are required to adopt a greater sense of agency than what is usually necessary for classical musicians in traditional concerts. And for musicians, this agency may feel different – it can take a bit of practice if you’re not used to it. However, the overarching idea is quite simple: keep awareness on where you have to be during the performance; on what is happening on stage at what time; and on what you need to do (or have) before, after and during your part of the performance. In dress or technical rehearsals, the best thing performers can do is to be patient and to take responsibility for their own part as much as possible.


This etude provides a way to prepare for a performance – for thinking of its multiple components – beyond what is usually required in classical concerts. It seeks to provide musicians with a greater sense of agency, particularly for dress or technical rehearsals. The exercise is quite simple, but it provides a starting point. From this, consider making notes and instructions specific to your project, in collaboration with your colleagues. Brainstorm what would be relevant for you all individually, and collectively.


  • Describe the concert and make note of relevant staff and colleagues.
  • Make a rough sketch of the stage design of the concert.
  • Mark where you will be, and where others will be.
  • Mark out the route you will take from backstage to your place on stage, for each performance.
  • Consider the following:
  • What do you need?
  • How will you carry what you need?
  • Can things be pre-set on stage, or side stage, for easy access?
  • Are you performing with, or without, music?
  • If you’re performing with music, will you use a music stand?
  • Is the music stand already on stage, if so, how? If not, how will the music stand get on stage?
  • What will you be wearing for the performance?
  • Will you be able to move and perform in what you will wear?
  • Will the audience see you walk on stage? If so, how will you walk?
  • Add more considerations to this list in accordance with the project.


Etude taken from: Eve, I (2020). The Same but Differently. Maastricht: Research Centre for Arts, Autonomy & the Public Sphere.

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