March 9, 2009

What is tech? Sometimes, fun.

Amongst those of us who work in theatre, "I'm in tech" is an unquestioned reason to miss birthdays, concerts, fundraisers, etc. Yet perhaps this code bears some explaining for the rest of the world. One of our stage managers came in with a card from her sister that read "Mom says you're in something called tech. I don't know what that means, but she said I shouldn't call you, and I should send presents. Here's a gift card for Dunkin Donuts." Good sister.
"Tech," to begin, stands for "technical rehearsals." It's when the show in process moves from the rehearsal room into the theatre--or for those who rehearse in their theatre, it's when the set shows up--or for those of us who don't have a building at all, it's when we take over our newly rented performance space. When we go from moving from one to another classroom of mats and folding metal chairs to the real thing. That means, of course, that first the real thing has to be moved. And built. And painted. Etc.

As a director said to me once, "tech is like Christmas." You get all the new toys: the lights, the sounds, the clothes, the furniture and painted walls, and floors... in this case, made of dirt. And grass.
Tech can also be a sad time for a director, because you have to spend some time concentrating on the lights and the sounds and the way things move around... and you stop watching the story and the characters. Then suddenly an audience comes in for previews, and if you're lucky you realize that the story was there all along, and that your smart designers have been working with it, not in spite of it.
For a small theatre company, the kind where the artistic director is also the producer and props shopper and all-around gofer, tech is long days of painting and sweeping and (hopefully) reassuring phone calls and drama management and snack-bringing and program proofing and trying very hard to maintain calm.
This past week, teching our two rep shows has been long hours and hard work, but also, amidst it all, rather delightful. It's involved notes like "can we take it again from the belly sniff?" and and "I can't tell that he's holding a finger" "Is the wind scary?" "Is the ghost in his light?" Thanks, Middleton and Marnich. You've given us some twisted plays.

We're all looking forward to sharing them with you out there, in audience-land.

Jennifer Shook,
Caffeine Theatre Artistic Director

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