Opening night is coming up fast, which means our cast and creative team are bubbling with excitement … and, of course, a healthy dose of fear!
The week before a theatrical piece opens is usually called ‘tech week’, and it is a very special week in the rehearsal process. This week is the bridge between rehearsals and opening night. Once tech week arrives, the entire creative team changes gears, and a new vibrant energy pulses through the cast. We begin fueling ourselves with adrenaline (and coffee!), and we often find ourselves unusually consumed with our plays: running lines in our dreams, thinking through scene transitions as we stand in grocery store line ups, and conserving all our energy for our evenings -- when the magic happens!
So… what is it that makes tech week so important?
1) Once tech week begins, we stop working on individual scenes, and begin to run the play as a whole. Throughout most of the rehearsal process, we spend our evenings focusing on individual scenes, stopping and starting as we run into challenges, and paying close attention to the details in each moment. When tech week hits, the play suddenly transforms from a patchwork of scenes into one giant story. Now, we are able to see which moments work seamlessly in the context of the whole, and which need a little extra care. We do our best to get through the full play without stopping, despite hiccups along the way, before we gather for ‘notes’ at the end of the night when our directors have the chance to let us know what we need to do in order to make the whole piece run smoothly!
2) We begin to get used to being ‘back stage,’ and we learn to time our entrances and exits accordingly. Now that the play is being run in its entirety, actors who aren't in particular scenes start to practice being backstage and waiting for their cue lines! Here at the GVSF, this is a particularly interesting experience, as our ‘back stage’ is really just a grassy hill! We don’t have the luxury of waiting right behind a curtain and stepping on stage at the exact moment we are needed. Instead, we enter from a any of eight different pathways leading to the stage, all of which take between 5 and 20 seconds to traverse! Since we need to ‘hit the deck,’ so to speak, at exactly the right time, it takes some practice to figure out exactly when we have to leave our grassy backstage area to make it onto the stage at exactly the right moment. Our timing becomes an essential part of the mix, as we neither want to leave an actor alone on stage while they wait for our entrance, or to arrive too early and insert our character into a scene which they aren’t meant to be in!
3) We begin to use costumes and tech. Tech week earned its name because it is usually the first week when we introduce the ‘technical’ elements of the play into the mix. This includes costumes, props, lighting, and sound! It’s amazing how invigorating these new elements can be; they help us to transform ourselves from actors into characters, and our space from a beautiful college campus into a magical new Shakespearean world! These new elements take some special care and attention. New costumes often mean that we need to learn to move differently as our characters. Quick changes between costumes backstage makes the timing of our entrances and exits even more crucial. New lighting and sound cues have to be paid attention to, so that the tone of our performances align with the tone of our environment. Each of these new moving pieces come with new phases of learning, and new opportunities for our work as actors to fully blossom!
Right now, we only have a few days left in tech week, and our excitement is rising every day as we make more and more progress toward the the finished pieces. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we perform for an audience for the first time during our Preview nights, and then on Thursday and Friday, we open both shows! We hope to see you there!