Parental Writes #37 – “Pour A Cup Of Gin For Me And Billy”


That was one of Duncan’s rehearsal notes. Now, before you post shocked comments, he is in a production of “Oliver” playing one of Fagin’s pickpockets. So, gin is perfectly acceptable. Because Dickens.

Of course, he’s having a terrific time! it opens in a little over a week and I’m excited to see it!

That note got me thinking of the rehearsal process. Since there’s been theater, I’m pretty sure there have been director’s notes. They are the most important things an actor can get during rehearsals. Heck, Hamlet gave notes to the players that were acting out the death of his father – “Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.”

Which basically means “Don’t overact.” Always a good note.

There have been some rather famous notes that have been passed along. My all-time favorite came from the movie “Marathon Man” with Dustin Hoffman. Laurence Olivier was playing a Nazi war criminal/dentist. The story goes that Hoffman’s character was supposed to have been awake for 3 days straight. Mr. Hoffman, being the Method actor he is, stayed up for three days straight. Allegedly, he kept missing lines and they were forced to do take after take. Mr. Olivier finally said to him “Why don’t you try acting, my boy? It’s much easier.”

Side note: An actor should never give another actor a note. Not their job. But if Laurence Olivier had wanted to give me a note, I would have listened!

Personally, the best note I ever got was during a production of “She Loves Me”. The director told me I could pretty much do whatever I wanted in a particular moment. So I did. Let’s just say I milked that moment for all it was worth. His note to me was “F### you, Reyburn! You magnificent bastard!”

I still have the original page he wrote it on. 🙂

Carry on. Act faster!

–Originally posted on Copyright 2015 by Paul Reyburn

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Paul Reyburn Paul has been an actor/director in the Twin Cities area for over 30 years and is very active in the MN theater community. His kid is really cool! He also writes the "Parental Writes" blog at
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