This weekend is tech rehearsal. This is the theatrical version of General Motors. The various parts of the play have been assembled separately and in different locations over the past several weeks. While we've been rehearsing, the set and costumes were being constructed; the lighting design created, the props were being either created, purchased, or just plain hunted down. This weekend is when all these elements get fused together into one production.
Many actors in the theatre dislike tech: it can be long, boring, and tedious beyond all description. It can literally take hours for the first cues to be written and executed, causing one to run outside, rend ones garments and cry to the heavens "why have you forsaken us?!" In some theatres, you are called for two 10-out-of-12 days, when you work 10 out of the 12 hours called. The 2 hours in the middle are for actors to eat, sleep etc. Usually, the designers, director and production staff just stay and work through the break. In this production we had one 10-out-of-12. This has been a dream tech. Superbly managed. A big thank you to all who made that happen.
I, however, like tech. Not all of them. I have rent many a garment over the years. But tech gives the actor a chance to do some scenes over and over, allowing you an opportunity to get the play deeper with each rep. I also enjoy watching the pieces of the production come together. It helps me understand the whole play. The scenery, sounds, the smells, and various textures all help tell the story.
The next event is the arrival of the audience. Many times in a production, right before you open, the director will say, "you just need an audience". So true. Not only to laugh, if it's a comedy, but to breathe with you, to listen, to bear witness to the events that these characters live through. And every audience has its own personality. The Wednesday night crowd can be hugely different from, say, Friday night. Sitting in the audience on a Wednesday, you are aware you have work or school the next day. It just sits there quietly on your shoulder. You may love the show, but you know tomorrow that alarm clock will go off. Early. Friday, for most folks, the expectation of the next day is lifted. You can sleep just a bit longer. Saturday is yours. You feel generous, and want to share your good fortune. That can be delivered in the form of big time laughs. This is of course is something of a generalization. But not by much.
So we are getting ready for you. This play is so full of life, of frustrated love, and searing pain. We are eager to tell you this very human story.
There has been a little confusion about this blog in some much appreciated articles on this production. First of all, even though I am its author, it's not mine. I was asked by the folks in marketing at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center here at the University of Maryland to keep this. It would be a chance for me to offer my... "unique perspective to the process, in his simultaneous roles as actor, Woolly Mammoth company member, and UM Department of Theatre faculty member." I have enjoyed writing this and sharing this process with you. If you see the show, drop by after and say hi. Let's continue the conversation.
So, this is my last blog entry. A big thank you to my wife, Celeste, and her eagle editor's eye.