I am not sure about this sentence, specifically how to interpret the part where it says "marking".

I'll give you some context first. The speaker is a musical actor and he is rehearsing a choreography; in the same room, there is a former teacher visiting the school where he used to teach. The actor is talking about this man.

"The only pressure I feel, honestly, is Mr. Smith in the room. And he has that command on the other side of the room when you, like, you know, you're just kind of MARKING it/that [not sure from the audio about the "it/that'] a little bit and then all of a sudden, you look over and you see him and you're like, 'Okay. Let me dig a little deep.' ".

Please, can someone explain the meaning of that sentence?

  • Both seem to work fine.
    – Kris
    Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 15:01
  • I'm guessing that this is a slang broadening of Collins' sense/s 36/37: <<**mark** [v] 36. (Dancing) to move the feet alternately as in marching but without advancing // 37. to act in a mechanical and routine way >>. So 'marking it' = 'only half-attentive [to the rehearsal]'. But I've no way of confirming this. Commented Nov 9, 2019 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


Mark it is a common instruction in dance and theatre rehearsals. It means 'Do it but, for the moment, don't worry too much about the detail.'

It is useful when 'blocking' a scene: working out the main movements in it. The director tells the actors 'Just mark it.' He doesn't need to hear all their lines while he blocks the scene. And he certainly doesn't want any acting going on. He just wants to look at the overall movement on the stage; to decide, for example, who goes where when so-and-so enters. After learning where and when to move, and walking it through a few times, the actors start rehearsing WITH the lines and the acting.

In the extract, the actor is suddenly aware that Mr Smith is watching. He realizes he's just been marking it and feels he should put a bit more passion into whatever he's doing.

In real life we might say, 'I was just going through the motions'.

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