Moving through

the view from The Balcony. Yes, that one

It’s been quiet on the blog of late, because things are moving apace. Our tech time in the theatre is moving fast, trying cues, balancing, making sure we have even coverage (or as even as we can – there are over 300 speakers in this hall but even so, not every seat has even sound).

We are now into our Previews, which are for the paying audience. Before that we had:

  • Onstage rehearsals
  • Onstage rehearsals with tech (lights and sound)
  • Tech rehearsal (a first draft of the light and sound elements)
  • Tech dress (a second draft but with costumes)
  • Quick change rehearsal (where the dressers and actors practice any wardrobe changes that have to be, um, quick) (this is usually just before the Tech Dress)
  • Dress 1 (we should be close now)
  • Dress 2 (often with invited guests and the company)
  • Previews 1-3, with 4 hour rehearsals following – designers are released after the rehearsal after the 3rd preview

We should note that the acting company continues with rehearsals in the rehearsal hall as well, to nail down acting notes and needs.

preview 1! I deliberately take seats away from where I usually sit to double check

Time somehow moves faster during these 3 previews. Very often I’m juggling multiple timetables here at the Festival, because I often work on 2 or more shows each season. This season I’m only on R and J (as it is affectionately called) so I thought there would be a little more space to breathe! However, that has gone the way of all illusions…

With the advent of an audience, the show takes on a life of its own. It becomes what it is, rather than what you think it is. There’s something about the conglomeration of a plethora of consciousnesses (uh if that’s a word) that can – not always, but can – completely turn things on their head, some shows more than others. In this case, it seems that the sound and music seem to be operating like they should, but there are a lot of new things I’ve found in sitting in a house with others. Often (like this time) it’s levels – things being too loud, or improperly balanced with all the sound absorbing meat sacks (aka people) in the house. I had some of that today, which I’ve been able to address during the night’s rehearsal.

Sometimes, though (thankfully not this time, and not often) seeing a show with others completely changes scenes, cues or maybe huge decisions that were made, and you have to go back to the drawing board. At this point, and at this festival, more often than not this doesn’t happen, because everyone knows how things shift and change and they make decisions that keep that in mind. But sometimes, you need to completely rework some of the ideas you thought you had.

The key there is to be able to move fast – to know your tools, to extrapolate, to have a strong picture in your mind how sound is moving through the space and through the story. Some of this you can do with practice, on your own, some of it takes root as you work in the room, some of it can only be guessed at, and you try on the next preview. It’s tricky. The key is to make sure that you’ve done your due diligence – that you know how to use your tools quickly and efficiently, that you can make decisions and sense the musicality and the sound through the space in a very deep way, that you can make an offer that makes sense, that you refrain from flailing, and be deliberate and care-full (but also fast).

It takes time to prepare, but there’s prep and there’s prep. To know how to move fast, to move well, and to move while listening – that’s the key.

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