I walked into the theater carrying a box of fabrics and costumes, a new prop, and a shoulder bag weighed down with script, score and laptop.
Before my eyes had adjusted to the dim light; while I was still standing there holding probably fifty pounds of varous items, I heard, “There he is.”
So I dumped my stuff onto the nearest surface (strictly against backstage protocol) and went to work on solving problem number one for the evening.
Let me pause here to make it crystal clear that I’m not complaining. I’m just giving you a hint of what it can be like for a director during tech week. At this point in the process my job is to make final decisions and to help resolve any problems which may arise with the actors, the crew, the design team, the production staff, the set, the costumes, the props, the lights, or any other vital component of our production.
I walked in tonight with a plan for what I needed to accomplish. But I immediately had to “acquiesce” — which is what I always advise my cast and crew to do. Have goals, but be prepared to go with the flow when you enter the theater — that sacred space where a thousand independent and overlapping things are happening at the same time in preparation for “the show”.
I addressed that first issue, which was about the set. Then I addressed an issue with props. I answered the same question at least seven times to various people I encountered backstage. I worked on a set dressing project in the hallway — where I was blocking the traffic pattern of cast members going to and from the costume room. I received several progress reports. I answered some more questions. I went into the house and talked through some issues with the stage manager and lighting designer. I went backstage again and touched base with actors on specific notes I’d given from last night’s rehearsal. I made corrections to the pre-show set-up. Then I watched and took notes on Act I. During intermission I gave notes to the lighting designer and board operator. I weighed in on changes/additions to the Act II set. Meanwhile I’d thought further on that first set issue, and I gave my new ideas to the crew. I discussed mic placement with the sound technician. Then I watched and took notes on Act II. Afterward, I re-worked the curtain call; gave more notes to the lighting designer and stage manager; answered more questions in the hallway backstage; told departing actors they’d done a good job, to get some rest; gently dealt with some personality conflicts; and gave notes to the costume crew. On my way out, I touched base with the producer and gave feedback to the ochestra supervisor. Then I drove home, where I found several show-related emails waiting. I answered those. Then I sent a few more of my own. I typed up my notes from the run-through and sent them out to the cast. And then I wrote this.
Now. Here’s something I can promise you. Every cast member, every member of the production staff, the technical crew, and the design team; everyone involved in those “thousand independent and overlapping things” had an equally full evening. And we’ll do it all again tomorrow.
God Bless Us Every One.
The run-through — with orchestra, costumes, hair, make-up — went very well, by the way! We’re rip-roarin’ and ready for our first Preview Performance on Thursday!!