The age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists and calculators has succeeded.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A long, long night at the theatre

Ah, the technical rehearsal, that phenomenon known throughout the theatrical world as an experience akin to pulling your own teeth out with a rusty set of salad tongs while being mauled by a rabid yet surprisingly amorous grizzly bear. I’ve been to many a tech in my lifetime, both professional and amateur, in capacities that range from centre stage luvvie to the guy that makes sure there’s enough weak tea in the prop whiskey bottle. Without exception it’s the same story- the cast, who’ve had the play to themselves for the entire rehearsal period, resent the appearance of a black-clad army who have suddenly emerged from the shadows and started telling them what to do; while the crew seem to be of the opinion that the show would run much more smoothly without the unnecessary addition of all those morons in fancy dress. Consequently, the whole process moves at a snail’s pace, tempers rise to heights far above the fly gallery and the whole thing descends into a furore of hissy fits and dark words muttered into boom mics.

But I have a secret. A guilty pleasure I only admit to myself in private moments of introspection.

I love technical rehearsals.

I love the camaraderie that develops among the actors as we’re made to wait 45 minutes in the wings with no explanation or apology as far above our heads a single par can is refocussed stage right to limited aesthetic effect. I love sniggering into my headphones when a member of the chorus gets the dance wrong and head-butts a piece of the set. I adore the little games we invent to amuse ourselves, the stupid jokes that are only funny because it’s 2am and if we weren’t laughing we’d be seriously considering ending it all by throwing ourselves into the orchestra pit.

People group together in the face of adversity. It’s a fact of life. So even though we all know in a week’s time that we’ll be a cohesive company, even though come Saturday we’ll doubtless be sharing the plaudits of a job well done as a unified whole; this evening, for one night only, it’s us vs. them. It’s childish, it’s silly, it’s cathartic and it’s brilliant.

I’m as happy as a pig in muck at techs, I love every minute of them. They’re frustrating and time consuming and utterly inefficient but when you suffer through something together it brings you closer and if you’re luckily, when you reach the end of the whole ridiculous process, when you’ve forged your friendships in the fires of hell and even gained a grudging respect for the enemy, what you’ve got at that moment is the best reward of all.

You’ve got yourself a show.


Blogger Shoelace said...

How come you put weak tea in gin bottles? Wouldn't water be more convincing?

12:09 am  
Blogger wide-eyed said...

Good point. Well made. I've updated the entry accordingly. Well done, oh pedant of alcoholic beverages.

9:48 am  
Blogger urban cowboy said...

ah, tech rehearsals.

you spend hours and hours and hours building sets, climbing up and down ladders with heavy equipment, trying to follow a list of requests that change daily on a director's whim.
you climb, hang, test, climb, change, test, climb, test, change repeatedly until it's perfect.
you lift, slide, saw, paint, fix, lift again.
you risk your life climbing up high ladders and plugging in heavy electricity.
you sort out problem after problem after problem.
you change a dangerous working environment into an area that light footed dainty people can run around in without knocking their nail varnish off.

then they arrive,
little more than expensive props with moving parts. you've created an awesome light show, and in they come to stand in it's way.
they stand there looking disgruntled, wondering why it takes 45 minutes to climb a ladder, lift a lamp, carry it down again, find a new place to hang it, carry it back up, hang it, make it safe, re-run 60 metres of cabling, make that safe too, run back to the desk, re-program an entire scene which may or may not have an adverse affect on the rest of the programming for the show,

and all because one of the dainty people can't take a step forward at a certain point.

then half hour later the director decides the step forward would convey an important hidden meaning, and you have to change it all back.

and from that moment on, you're forgotten.

the lament of the techie.

it's fine. we're secure in ourselves and don't need hundreds of people to tell us we if did well.

9:24 am  
Anonymous Millie said...

Good post.

7:20 am  

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