Sitting there in the darkened house, I watched as the actors glided across the stage. Each line echoed off the walls of the theatre, reminiscent of the Greek amphitheatres of old. I lost myself in the action, a story about new found love, but hesitation. I smiled as each scene drew me farther in, closer to a conclusion.
The darkness enveloped us all. The scene had not ended, but the lights had turned off. The performers continued to move forward, effortlessly pushing through until the lights magically reappeared by a push of a button. The power behind the stage manager can be quite intoxicating, and so the thought of playing “God” in the theatre, and plunging a performance could easily tempt even the heartiest of souls.
But luckily I knew better. Second Dress, another night to work out the kinks of the performance, to make sure that these subtle, and not so subtle mistakes are prevented prior to the Opening. The blackened stage was merely a miscall, something that Maggie would take a note on, and prevent for future performances.
But on this night you also saw something exceptional. Performers continuing with their task to bring forth entertainment to the masses. Liz and Melissa continue their dialogue, even when their ever shining light was stolen from them. It no longer mattered that the audience could not see them, for Diana Son’s words still reached those sitting in the audience. This showed that the weeks of rehearsal had made a difference, and that these actresses were ready to present such a compelling piece to an audience.
Second Dress tends to move a bit better than first dress, and tonight was a prime example of that. After the multiple rehearsals of quick changes on Monday night, the transitions flowed with a naturalness that made the play feel “right.” The characters were stronger, more vibrant and we, the audience of technicians and director, felt drawn to them even more.
Suddenly I was pulled to my senses as I listened to the minor earthquake backstage. It seemed that the herd of elephants the Biology Department had been keeping in a pasture outside the scene shop doors had rumbled through the wings, trampling everything in sight. Or so it seemed. Again, I reminded myself, this is what tech week is for. A chance to learn how to keep those elephants corralled and to quiet the Earth’s rumblings.
In minutes I fell back into the play, living vicariously through these characters. The love had begun to spring up between the characters. There were trials and tribulations, as there should be, but they were moving to that high point, that climax that we all seek in a well written play. We watched as two of the performers began a pivotal scene that would push forward the plot.
“Wait, hmm, what’s my line?”
It had seemed that a troll had come and ripped the lines directly out of the actor’s head. The script had been purged, and for a moment we sat there, watching, hoping that the troll would be generous, and return the lines back to the performer. And then it happened, the play moved forward. The actor gathered his composure and pushed forward, letting us care just a little more for the performance.
This is what we sit through during tech week. It is our job, the designers, directors, stage managers, crew and performers, to work out the kinks that the audience would rather not believe ever happens. We suffer as one mistake leads into another that is compounded by the next. Every tech week has it’s challenges. And it is those challenges that make was we do in theatre exciting.
Now, my friends, we have but one more day without the audience. One more time to perfect our roles. A last chance to prove that we have everything covered and that the performance will move forward without a hitch.
Oh, and at some point, we must enjoy yet another showing of Peter, the tongue tied weenie.