This emotion laden dance begins with such vigor and passion, with strident steps and energy up the wazoo. The precious little faces of the actors beaming with excitement as they move through the set for the first time and the tender, gentle personalities of the tireless techs, sharing the joy of the theatre together. Such bliss, such pleasure – such an alternative universe.
The day you bump in everyone trundles along nicely, whistling while they raise the lighting trusses, skipping from toolbox to set piece, celebrating 12 hours of solid effort with a good glass of full bodied red. The next day you rise, address the day like Snow White greeting the birds and animals, gather your tool belt and skip to the theatre.
Walking through the backstage door, you feel uneasy. There’s an energy in the building that disturbs the ‘force’. You hear chatter coming from the dressing rooms and suddenly you remember – THE ACTORS ARE IN!
You fumble for the meditation app on your phone, frantically looking for a quiet corner to sit and gather yourself but everywhere you go there are dancers stretching in unnatural ways, singers with voices rising to a level only dogs can hear, there is more makeup on faces than paint on the set, and everyone wants to HUG you. What is that?!
I’ve worked on different sides of tech week – as an actor, a crew member, and a director and discovered that tech week has the potential to expose those personality traits we all work so hard to hide, releasing facial ticks and passionate outbursts that would make a sailor blush.
I’m a fan of good old fashioned containment – if it’s loud, rude or going to cause a sandbag being dropped on you from a great height, cram it way down inside and don’t say it. A little bit of unhealthy emotional avoidance can go a long way at this point.
But seriously, be kind to your crews. They are tired, stressed and don’t need any prima donnas throwing hissy fits because a set was moved to the wrong place during the first scene. I swear if I’m present when an actor ‘goes off’ at a crew member or another actor I would inflict pain!
We’ve all been frustrated during technical rehearsals, especially if they aren’t run efficiently but it just doesn’t help to lose your cool. I have, however, considered putting a straw into a good bottle of red though. Sometimes the glass just gets in the way.
Love your crew, respect your fellow players and enjoy the fact that if you get through tech week alive, your reward will be the applause of adoring fans at your curtain call.