Producers Spotlight: Deb Rabbai on Failing in Rehearsal

Stefan Schick and Deb Rabbai in the rehearsal room.

Stefan Schick and Deb Rabbai in the rehearsal room.

When you reach a level of competence and even excellence as a performer, you can sometimes hit a plateau in your work. You discover that you know how to do something and do it well, so now what? Where do you go creatively as a performer? Do you just continue to do what you know how to do and hope you don't get bored artistically? My answer is no.

We Challenge Ourselves In Rehearsal

In order for Broadway's Next Hit Musical's performances to stay sharp, fresh and excellent on the road and at home in New York City, we have to practice and challenge ourselves. The place reserved for those challenges is rehearsal. Every Tuesday in our rehearsals we often work on the basics of musical improvisation, storytelling, yes anding, presentational performance and physicality.

As an artistic director,  I work to create a nurturing rehearsal environment in which to work on and practice our craft. This is my main focus. As a performer I've found that it can be scary when I'm attempting something that I've never tried before or exploring a skill I'm weak in. Even if I'm surrounded by other supportive artists who are working on their own goals, it can cause me to go to a very vulnerable place. I judge myself overly harshly and I suddenly can't access the skills I already possess because I'm so busy focusing on the new skill I'm working on. Argggghhhh!!! Catch 22.

How do I improve a skill I'm not good at while continuing to maintain a level of excellence in the skills I already have?

Risk - and Risk Big - In the Rehearsal Room

Here's the key to opening that door and moving beyond your fear and your artistic plateau.


You've got to take a creative risk. And make it a big one. My feeling is that rehearsal is the place to take that risk. Try that thing you're afraid to do in performance. Fail and fail big in rehearsal!

Look, nobody WANTS to fail. In order to succeed you have to be willing to fail good naturedly. Sometimes the greatest learning can be gained from a supreme failure. Believe me, I've been there....a lot. Sometimes people can feel the pressure to perform at a level of excellence in rehearsal. This can truly stop them from experimenting from the place of curiosity it takes to find something new. Whether it be through success or failure. How lucky we are to have such a pool of talented, supportive improvisers with whom to fail and - more often - to succeed. I relish our time to connect, succeed and fail in rehearsals. Together. 

See Us Risk It Onstage

Now that you know how we rehearse risking, come and see us in a show! Head to the tickets & info page to see us near you! 

Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under How To Do Music Improv, Producer Spotlight.