August 9, 2014

The Chaos of Tech Paperwork

I call this: theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:58 am

There comes a point in tech where your paperwork is made up more of scrawled corrections than actual paperwork. But you can’t update it, because you’re comfortable with your scribble, and having it neatly typed up would terrify you as you had to re-learn where to look for each cue. And of course taking the time to re-type it would cut into the 5 hours of sleep you’re getting.

One day, about four days into tech for Revolution in the Elbow of Ragnar Agnarsson Furniture Painter, I was visiting Ashley’s domain backstage and spied her run sheets, which were completely illegible to the untrained eye, and obviously contained little information that had remained accurate since the sheets were printed.
Her pages bore a striking familiarity to what my calling script had turned into, so I pulled it out to compare:

Part of my issue with the calling script relates to the perhaps misguided decision I made to have the calling script not follow the page breaks of the rehearsal script. We were getting 10-20 replacement pages a day during tech (often during tech, not overnight), and only on like 2 of them did I ask our PA, Jonathan, to re-create the calling script pages properly. Most of the time I just shoved the full-size rehearsal script pages into my calling script as we teched them, and through a maze of pencil crossings-out, and brightly-colored Post-Its with arrows and “X”s, I direct my attention from one page to the next, landing my focus on the next cue that actually exists.

The real problem is that this method works, so although it’s sketchy as hell and looks awful, when you’re in the midst of tech and early previews, having ugly paperwork is not as scary as having paperwork you’re not used to reading. And so, even after eight previews, this is what my script looks like, in about 10 places.

I’m at a point now where I’m comfortable enough with the show that I could switch over to a new script, but now I’m just waiting for the day off to tackle it. And really, if I’m calling the show for press, I think I’d still rather have my Post-It trail than take a chance with something neat and tidy.

Also, this is largely made possible by Super-Sticky Post-Its, which I’d never really used before. Ashley was adamant when we were shopping during pre-production, that all Post-Its be Super Sticky, and I’m now of the same opinion.

So from this I learned:
1. If you’re working on a new piece that’s still frequently changing, keep your calling script pages consistent with the rehearsal script pages unless absolutely necessary (to avoid bad page turns, leave enough room for complicated dance breaks, etc.).

2. Super-Sticky Post-Its. Always. I like the accordion ones, because I have my dispenser at the theatre.