Playwright in Tech

D -7 Day

I haven’t even left yet for Los Angeles, but the inevitable pre-show “it’s-always-something” anxiety is already ratcheting up. The director called and said he’s jammed up trying to find two running crew people for the run of the show. I told him I’d make some calls to folks I know who know the kind of naive young theatre enthusiasts that might do this for the nominal fee. (Just about enough to cover gas and expenses.) It’s tough trying to pull strings and call in old markers from 1,100 miles away, but it’s at least something I can do till I’m down there in the flesh come Saturday. Also, the set designer called me panicked that the producers didn’t schedule enough time in the theatre for tech. Apparently we won’t even have a full dress run in the space until Invited Dress, a.k.a. the night before Opening. He thinks he can manage his end of things, but wonders when and how we’ll be able to set up the lights. Tradition calls for a day to hang, and then another to focus. Not even one day has been scheduled for this. Eeep!.

Now unlike earlier shows of mine, this one is mercifully light on tech, but there’s still plenty of sound and light cues to be worked through, and you can’t do that properly (or really at all) unless you’re in the space that the show’s going up in. (It’s a natural, albeit fallacious, assumption of lay folk that a show simply rehearses in the space its performed, but this is an utter myth from community theatre on up to Broadway. Performance space, always at a premium, is routinely othewise booked until a week before you open. In this case, there are classes scheduled in our space some nights in that last week of rehearsals!) I have no idea when, or even if, there's going to be a proper paper tech or dry tech.

It’s a brand new company I’m working with, though most of the key players are old colleagues from many shows and companies past. Unfortunately, it seems in their efforts to make it an artistically rich experience for the actors, they’ve forgotten the vital technical side of things. It’s a common rookie mistake. Actors are great, but who cares if you can’t see them.

But all the technical worries aside (there’s always plenty of technical worries, and they’re always dealt with somehow), what looms most dolefully for me is how hard being away from my baby boy is going to be after being his primary care-giver these last four months. At nine months old, will he miss me? I hope not. But I know I’ll miss him like fresh air, not to mention my beautiful wife. I’m getting tired of this theatre thing. Too much work; too little pay off.