Tech Week: Let's Not Call It Hell Week
Zach Kaufer describes the long, arduous, but ultimately rewarding process of teching a show.
A lot of tech is spent standing around, but that doesn't mean we don't do things. (Courtesy Zach Kaufer)
Last week, my article (which you can read by clicking here) was focused on beginning a new production and the process that I go through as a director to figure out what the hell I'm doing. I could go on and on about that; it's the foundation of my many sleepless nights and graying hair. This week, however, I'm focusing on a very different but equally stressful subject: tech week.
The cast and crew come into the theater early on Saturday morning for the first of two "10 to 10's", a dreaded word in the theater. For the next two days, the cast and crew will be tirelessly working at a snail's pace to get the sound and lights fully cued and programmed. Slowly but surely the show comes together as we work from cue to cue building, fixing, and going back to run tiny bits of dialogue for the designers to make every cue just right.
The tech process is slow and arduous, but there's a certain excitement in it for me. As a director, and watching Stephanie Shroyer work (director of The Dead, currently in tech), I know that tech is the final step in my journey. It's only the beginning of the actors' work to keep the performance fresh and alive for however many performances we run, but it's my last chance to make any small adjustments and fixes that will make the show run as smoothly as possible.
During our run on Friday night, Stephanie made a brilliant analogy that I think sums up the entire rehearsal process and its culmination in our tech rehearsals (but really, when is she not brilliant?) The lights, the costumes, the sound, and the set all come together with the work we've been doing in the rehearsal room like gears in a clock. If there's something off in one of the tiny cogs that we've set into motion, the clock doesn't tell time. There's no magic if there's no time.
As stressful and anxiety-inducing as tech is, I like to think of it as a chance to focus in one last time before our final actor, the audience, enters the picture. Tech is where we can synthesize our work from the production meetings, the rehearsals, the table work, and the homework into one seamless beast that can fly on its own.
Let's not call it "hell week." It's only hell if you make it hell. Let's think about the possibility and the potential in the bumps until the clock tells us it's time to put butts in the seats.