May 1, 2012
I don't enjoy techs. Some actors say they love them.
We go over entrances, exits, technical business, again and again and again. We can spend an hour changing from one scene to another.
As a scene ends and the lighting dims, furniture has to be removed, a trap in the floor opened, a platform has to rise through the trap, the live singers have to sing, doors have to be opened, actors have to time their entrances.
Dozens of lights have to change. If one tiny element of this incredibly complicated manoeuvre is slightly out of time, the whole shebang has to be done again. The platform has to go back understage, the trap close, the lighting change, the singers retreat etc.etc.etc.
It can take a day to stage an hour of the play. Acting takes a back seat. Technical work is all. Hence 'tech'. Of course.
We usually work until 10pm on these days. Everyone gets exhausted. Sometimes a brilliant and inventive hysteria erupts. Fantastical and very funny repartee, breaks out. Discipline falters. We are admonished to 'focus' - a theatrical term I first noticed in the 60s, but now commonly used by football managers and businessmen. But we theatricals claim it as ours. Original.
Suddenly the dress rehearsals are upon us. Sometimes this is reduced to the dress rehearsal. And sometimes in my experience, due to the tech proving fiendishly complicated we face an audience for the first time, sans dress rehearsal. This, I'll secretly confess, can be both bowel-loosening and fiercely exciting at the same time.
We step forward into the light to fly by the seats of our trousers, or even sometimes, our breeches. But we 'dress'. We preview. And then, comes The Press Night.
by James Hayes
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