Tech week seems to have one of two effects on me:
The desire to run aimlessly around the house waving my arms over my head in sheer terror because everything is wrong and nothing will ever be right again and good god why do I do this to myself?
Or the desire to drop everything and do nothing but be at the theatre all day because things are going so well and the show is going to be so awesome and I can’t wait for it to go up so I can show people how awesome it is.
Sometimes these things interchange and I bounce from one extreme to the other.
Either way, tech week is not good for my work habits, it’s not good for my diet, it’s not good for my gym habits, and on the whole it’s not really healthy for me as a human being.
Luckily, the process of making theatre is healthy for human beings. And specifically the
process of making Shakespeare really helps to feed what I do when I’m not physically in the theatre. As I’ve mentioned, this process has been bumpy; but we’re making something new. Forging a new model is always more complicated than falling into the ruts of an old one. The growing pains of what we’re doing can be forgiven because I really do think that the end product is going to be worth it.
Twelfth Night is different from anything else I’ve worked on. I’ve talked about the community-oriented formation of this project, but it’s also not an ends to itself. It’s a process. In building the only true repertory company in New England, we’re hoping to keep our shows in rep for many years to come. This performance isn’t a once and done kind of thing; it’s a springboard. It’s the start of something that we’re making together and, as such, it’s much less stressful than a typical show in some ways. I don’t feel the pressure to get it right once and for all because I know I’m going to be living with the show for a while. On the flip side, I don’t feel like the problems that this show has are things that we can just gloss over. If there’s an issue, we really need to solve it because it’s just going to hang Damocles-style over our heads ad infinitum.
We don’t have much to “tech” in the show because we have no scenery, no lighting cues, and no sound cues. The things we do need to run are the insane number of quick-changes (I pretty much spend the entire play getting into or out of some outfit or another), the shuttling of props/costumes from an exit to an entrance on time, the manipulation of bodies in the space backstage, and general timing/human things. Again, in one sense it’s a lot easier. It’s all us. If there’s a problem, it’s on us to solve and not a light board or a switch. In another sense, it’s harder to solve these kinds of issues. There’s only so fast anyone can move; quick-changes have an upper limit of time compression.
I suppose the ultimate conclusion is that nothing is perfect, the grass is always always greener, and hell week is hell (despite being fun when things are going well).
…it should be noted that the bizarre array of props that I need to pile and bring to rehearsal for this show is interesting enough to list: 1 ukulele, 2 fencing foils, 2 long red ribbons, double stick tape, 1 pair yellow stockings, 1 hair clip (easily put on/taken off), pouches and pouches of fake money, 1 black beret (I play one character that kind of looks like Che Guevara), 1 pair mary-jane chunky heels, nylons, a ring, several jewels given as gifts, maracas, a tambourine, spoons, 1 black Spanish fan, sewing kit, breathe mints (just general good courtesy when you’re up in each others’ faces), letters, sealing wax… there are a lot of hand props in this show. Lots of gifts. May be the subject for a paper at some point when it’s not hell week.
Welcome to hell. Come see my show on Friday.