Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Five sessions to go...but don't forget the cats!

Rehearsals are hard but techs are art. It's the moment that a director and the creative team really get to play. It's the time when a script actually becomes a play, a piece of theatre. It's also one of the most chaotic and stressful times there can be for any show. Lights getting rigged, focused and the refocused. The set getting painted and tweaked on every break. A constant demand for excellence, quality and professionalism up against the most stressful of time pressures. The opening night [Ed. Fri 21 Oct].

The "New" Prompt Box, off stage left
It's a marvel to watch a tech, it's like a film set without cameras. The director scrutinising every detail, technicians under pressure to change everything they've been working on because it's no longer right with only five minutes to change it or we'll be behind. And once you get behind it means less time for the actors to perfect their performance on the actual stage. A tech is a constant negotiation between time and quality. With a small army of theatre professionals all working to get a show ready for a demanding public. It's fantastic!

Front door of the house from off stage left
The A Day in the Death of Joe Egg tech is just the same as every other one. Hard work! With tireless professionals all working together to get this gorgeous play ready. On Saturday (15/10) after the final rehearsal in the morning the technical and creative teams work on to start the lighting prep for the tech. The tech is the last stage of all the technical work, the technical teams having been working in the theatre ever since the last show closed over a week ago. There is a lot of prep that must happen before the actors and rehearsal team get onstage. The set is constructed in sections onstage after moving from the workshop. Lights are rigged per the lighting designers exact specifications and the show's needs. Once lights are up, work on the stage can get properly under way. After the basic set is ready then the painters and set dressers can get under way. The painters having to work overnight to get the set ready for the next day, and because it's the only time it's clear to let the paint dry! Meanwhile the costumes and props are being prepped and checked to see if it's what the designer needs. Each of these pieces having to be in place for the tech. When the director (Phillip Breen), designer (Max Jones) and lighting designer (Tina MacHugh) get to play with them and bring them all together. And that's when the stress sets in.

Stage right
Top of the stairs on the set
Having to get this all right, quickly, is a difficult skill. A tech is simply working through the play scene-by-scene making sure that all the lighting, sound and all the technical moments are right. And it can be an incredibly frustrating time. Spending hours on one scene because it's just not working right whilst flying through others because everything just fits into place. Every time something happens onstage it's been thought about, scrutinised, argued over to get it ready. That's what can be very exciting about theatre, it's real and right in-front if you. Every time something happens a person has either pulled a lever or pressed a button.

Pre-Tech prep onstage
There are a massive amount of people having to work together to get this show ready, this blog post does focus on the creative team. When you come to see A Day in the Death of Joe Egg have a look at the names away from the actors and the creatives. There are an awful lot of them and they are fantastic! I've only been at the Citz for a short time and this is my first show here but I have been constantly impressed by the skill and joy with which the team here do their jobs and make the Citz a home.

Stage left
We've just finished the tech now and we're hurtling towards the dress! Can't wait!

If you're wondering what the cats are in the title mean, come and see the show

Richard
Assistant Director

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