The first run of rehearsals does not take place onstage but in a studio. When rehearsals begin the set is usually still being constructed in the workshop. So that the performers, director and stage management can rehearse accurately within the acting area, lines of coloured tape are stuck to the studio floor to represent cloths, walls and doorways, but whenever possible a mock-up of the set is used. This is particularly vital if there are different levels, moving trucks, treads or raked flooring as in the Stage Design with the Court of a Castle. Likewise, for the early stages of a rehearsal period, substitute props are used.
Approximately, two weeks before the show opens, rehearsals transfer to the stage. The set will now be in the theatre (if not completely dressed). It is during this stage of rehearsals that the technical aspects of a show are rehearsed or ‘teched’. Health and Safety becomes paramount particularly if there are quick scene changes, revolving sets, flying cloths (or people) etc. For example, if no interval was intended between Serafino Brizzi’s Exterior and Interior designs, the scene-change would have needed to be carefully teched; the movement of large, heavy pieces being choreographed to enable them to be struck and set quickly, quietly and safely.
As the onstage rehearsals progress all the elements that make a show are put together: the costumes and lights are added, the painting and dressings are finished, the performers move around the stage with confidence, cloths fly at the correct speeds and scenery moves as if by magic. After the Dress Rehearsal the audience is introduced – the illusion is now complete.