June 15, 2010

Tech Complete!

I call this: summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 1:56 am

Well we just finished tech.

It was a long few days. Things moved along quite smoothly, but just slowly. The show is a unit set, and as such, it’s very simple in terms of moving scenery, but a lot of care had to be taken to create new looks for each scene, and that takes time. The show is also LONG. I think most people probably aren’t aware of it, but Into the Woods can apparently reach three hours with intermission in many productions. The script is 188 pages long. And the show switches setting sometimes several times per page, so there’s a lot of tech to be teched.

Today was supposed to be our first dress rehearsal, but we ended up using the day to finish teching Act II, and then we ran Act II, which was all we had time for. The run actually went very well. It’s one of those shows that goes like a freight train, and it was a very smooth ride, that felt much shorter to me than the hour and four minutes it took.

I’ve been very wound up for three days, because my job is to tech the show, and the difficulty we were having keeping to our timetable has been very heavy on my mind. The first night I got a very restless sleep, dreaming about mics breaking and other assorted theatrical disaster. Last night I slept a little better, mostly because we had already sketched out a contingency plan for tonight, and it was one I wasn’t too worried about being able to pull off. Today for the first time since Saturday morning, I felt I could walk out of the theatre with my head held high, knowing that we have something resembling a show, and that at least Act II is proven to be in good shape for where we are in the process.

Because of the pressure, I haven’t actually been enjoying tech as much as I usually do. Once we began the run, and it started to feel like a run, rather than just an especially long unbroken stretch of tech, I started to have fun. Act I is a lot more complicated, so once we get there tomorrow — with costumes, wigs and makeup, and an orchestra on the clock — I will be more nervous, but tonight really cheered me up.

Obligatory tech table photo:

Several fun things about this tech table: I have to give credit to Justin Scalese, who is a loyal reader of this blog, and although I can’t get him program credit, I can at least acknowledge here that he has been dubbed “Ms. Parlato’s Personal Technical Advisor.” The program will refer to him as “Sound Engineer,” but we know the truth. I’ve asked for a number of creature comforts this season. First of all, knowing how many fly cues there would be in this show, I said I really wanted a working cue light system. Reagle had one in the past, but it hasn’t been functional in the five years I’ve been around. Justin was able to get me one cue light on very short notice for this show, and by the next show, we should have at least two, and will steal an idea from a theatre I toured to in Texas, and use rope light along the length of the rail, rather than a few light bulbs. The other complexity I threw at him was that the controls for the lights had to be able to be used not only in the booth (where the wires already ran through the ceiling), but also to the tech table, or else there would be no point to the whole thing. He came through.

With just one light, I’m using it on most of the cues, but for the really complicated sequences, it’s a combination of verbal cues, by cue number, for the flypeople on headset, and the cue light for those who aren’t. I think there’s one section that requires six people on the rail.

A few days after Project Cue Light, I posed one more challenge to Justin, which I thought would be impossible, or at least impractical: to get the conductor video monitor at the tech table. The cues in this show are all very musical, and there are a lot of vamps and safeties, where the only way to know what’s coming is to see the conductor. Apparently there’s a large surplus of BNC cable, and that project was completed before I knew it. Both improvements made the tech much easier, and will contribute to the overall quality of the show when it’s seen by audiences, because it was able to be teched with more precision.

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