The Joys of Tech Week
Tech week. The week all theatre folks will look forward to with a mild mixture of dread and joy. I’m jumping the “order” I had set for these “definitions” (for lack of a better word) because this week tech week is relevant because I’m in the midst of one for my theatre’s performance of Our Town.
Tech week is the last week-ish of rehearsals before the performance opens. It is the time when all of the technical elements (lights, sound, costumes, special effects if any, etc.) of a show come together for the director, designers, and actors to see what the final product will look like. The rehearsals during this time are normally Dress Rehearsals, which are just what the name implies: rehearsals with the cast in full costume (and full technical elements).
Tech week is often a lot of late nights (later than usual) because the cast and crew are working out all the technical kinks that arise when the set, lighting, sound, props, and actors all mix together. Those kinks can be anything from the stage manager calling the lighting and sound cues correctly (if there are a lot of cues that are very close together this can pose a challenge sometimes), to the actors getting accustomed to moving around on the set (if there are a lot of new levels or unusual stairs or set pieces), to setting the correct sound levels, to an actor mastering a quick costume change they may have.
Depending on the theatre company, several bits of the technical elements will be incorporated earlier than tech week, but not always. Personally, the company I work with will incorporate as many real props (instead of rehearsal props) and set pieces (furniture and levels) as we are able to as early as we are able to do so. This way the actors will have much more time to work with the pieces. But other theatres may not always be able to do that.
Right now, I’m actually loving my tech for Our Town. If you are unfamiliar with the play, the play is written so that the majority of the scenic elements and props are mimed (so they are not seen, but the actors pretend the pieces are there). Our interpretation is also designed so that all of the sound cues are made by the actors on stage as opposed to being a file on a laptop run through the speakers. Thus tech week for this production is only adding in lights and costumes. The costumes are also very simple. We are not setting things in the period of the play so the costumes are very much everyday attire (thus not something difficult or funky for most of the actors to get accustomed to wearing). And I have very few light cues on top of that. All in all an easy tech week compared to some I have worked.
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