Confessions from tech week[end]

April 12, 2017, 6:53 a.m.

For those who don’t know, Ram’s Head’s spring show this year is “The Wild Party,” which opens this week (4/14, 4/15, 4/20, 4/21, 4/22 @ 8 p.m. in MemAud). I, for one, am both assistant stage managing and drumming for the show – two roles that are quite manageable on their own, but are near impossible together and have made me want to die a slow, painful, hideous death for the past four months.

Regardless, as with every show that is about a week away from opening, we had ~tech~ this weekend!

For those unacquainted with theater things and terms and general knowledge, ~tech~ is a chunk of time, usually a week (this is where the term “tech week,” if you’ve ever heard that, comes from), where we run through a show – the entire show – to get lighting and sound cues all set before dress rehearsals. This is typically/always a long, hard, painstaking, hair-pulling, crazy-making process.

In total, we spent around 16 hours in Memorial Auditorium this past weekend. (As a bonus, I got to spend an ~extra two hours~ back in MemAud after tech ended for Gaieties writing! MemAud is now my home and I live there.)

Being cooped up in a single, finite space/plane of existence for 16 hours is really tough – tougher than anticipated, even though tech itself went pretty smoothly.

Sure, MemAud is huge, but things begin to feel very, very small both onstage and behind the scenes. Particularly when we go through a scene 10 times to get lighting and staging/blocking right.

Backstage is dimly lit, hard to traverse because of chairs all over the floor (if you go see the show you’ll see why) and tends to feel enclosed and a bit claustrophobic – and the Green Room (a decently sized room off to the left of the main stage and easily accessible from backstage) also begins to shrink.

The Green Room is also weird to walk into because the theater itself is very dark, and the Green Room is brightly lit from the outside world, which I very rarely glimpsed in my 16+ hours at MemAud.

Fortunately, tech for “Wild Party” was probably one of the least grueling techs I’ve experienced. Things ran pretty smoothly, if a bit slowly, and everyone was pleasant and cordial and fun – which was ironic, given the subject matter of the show …

Still, 18 hours in a place changes you. And by “changes you” I mean “makes it impossible to do work.” I’m writing this now, which counts as work, but in writing this I am also not doing hundreds of other things.

And guess what? Dress rehearsals and actual performances this week mean I get to spend even more hours in MemAud! Truly, it’s a good thing the show is so good, otherwise I would be even more stir-crazy and would probably be tempted to break something. Like the set (which is really cool).

After “Wild Party” is over, I think I need to be outside forever to counteract the time spent indoors in a dark, dark, occasionally-bright-when-some-lights-are-on, still-kinda-smells-like-fresh-paint-and-sawdust theater.


To encourage Matt Bernstein to finally leave MemAud, email him at mattkber ‘at’

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