As well as being exciting, freeing and full of challenges, rehearsals can also be a stressful, frustrating and confusing process for any actor.

As well as getting to grips with a role, there are a lot of new people to take in, many of whom you will be working very intimately with over the coming weeks. And then there’s the producers, technical team, wardrobe and, of course, your director. It takes a while to really get to know and trust these people, and often the first impressions you will get of your colleagues will be completely inaccurate, as everyone tries to establish themselves within the group dynamic. Defenses will be up and cards will be kept clutched close to chests for a time. No one wants to look silly in front of each other, or the director. You are all working professionals here to do a job,  and it can often blind you at an early stage into being scared to ask questions or take any risks.

I’m sure anyone would agree, one of the best things about acting is getting to work so closely with other people, and learning a lot about yourself in the process. The friendships you form whilst playing against people on stage or in front of the camera are deep and long-lasting. Even if you do fall out of regular communication, or work takes you far away from each other, you always have that one shared experience which never leaves you.

A director once told me as a production was coming to a close and we were both feeling a little blue, that he thought working as an actor was a bit like entering into a string of failed marriages. You work so intensely with a group of people for a finite time, that it comes as a shock when the project comes to a close and you are suddenly brutally divorced from them. Of course, you pick up the pieces and, if you’re lucky, move on to your next courtship, but you always share that special connection with old colleagues many years later.

On day one though, none of these bonds have been formed and, crucially, you also have a director to develop a working relationship with. Understanding and interpreting the intentions of your director is a vital asset to any actor, and of course it should be said, accommodating the needs of your cast is an equally big part of directing. In the beginning stages of any ensemble, these dialogues can be stilted and fraught with trepidation. We often find ourselves not quite understanding a note, yet trying to act on it all the same, scared to ask for clarification for fear of embarrassment, or feeling insecure about putting our own personal interpretation across.

Now, every director is different, but I think it’s fair to say most directors don’t want to work from a completely blank canvas. A director who can see what you are trying to do and can then help tailor your performance to suit the needs of a piece is surely a happier director than one who was to do all the work for you?

And that is why I say be fearless, be bold, be interesting! Don’t fix your ideas but have lots of them, and get in there on the first day and put a few out there. It may feel like everyone is watching and judging you, and you may feel that they are all resenting this show-off in the room, but the truth is they are envious of your beautiful and unbridled courage.

They will all get there eventually, the group will settle, and the discoveries and inventions will begin to flow thick and fast – it really is the most exciting, electric time. But, you need an atmosphere conducive to this  so the actors are able to risk things that may fail, while the group provides a safety net of trust and mutual respect.

It’s also easy to forget that this is the director’s first day as well, and they have the focus of a whole cast on them which, no matter how experienced they are, must always be an initially daunting prospect. If you give them something to play off, it eases their assimilation into the group as well. Whether it’s something to love or inspire, or something to hate and spark debate, there are never any wrong suggestions at this stage, they are all just different avenues to explore on the road to creating a piece of theatre.

Martin Luther King Junior once said “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear”. It’s an incredibly pretentious way to finish this blog, but I think prescient enough to let me get away with it. So go forth and be BOLD.