In the spirit of this blog being an insight into the way theatre actually happens here at DTF, I write this blog post to give you a glimpse into the most infamously difficult part of making a play: Tech Week.
Our tech for Intimate Apparel technically started on Tuesday, but the ordered chaos of the week before a show consists not only of tech, where the designers, directors, actors, and crew go through the play one page at a time, making sure everything goes smoothly, but also the load-in of the set and lights. That started last Sunday, and since then, people have been found working, sitting in corners sewing, sending emails, and editing light plots at all hours of the day and night.
I love tech week. Last summer I worked here as an ASM, so during tech, I was in the theater rehearsing for myself. This year, up in the admin office, I got to see things from a different perspective. Me and Ashley’s to-do list this week consisted of making menus for the cafe, hanging up posters in Bennington, taking notes for the director during a run of the show, emailing and calling journalists, printing pictures for props, and stuffing programs. I also got a chance to sneak into the costume shop where the costumers were working in the middle of the night to help sew some binding on a corset.
Which brings me to the shops–during tech, the costumers and carpenters have to work around the hours of the rehearsal so they have access to the costumes and the set. Since rehearsal can run between eight and twelve hours every day, it really does mean that people are working around the clock.
This all makes tech week feel like it’s about a month long. Only a week ago the stage was empty and the costumes were still mocked up in muslin. This extremely long week culminates in an ever important theatre–and important DTF–tradition: the opening night reception.
The thought of the opening night reception only has brief moments to slip into everybody’s brains during their crazy work days, but in those brief moments it is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. In the middle of the day, almost like magic, everyone dissapears, and the seemingly perpetually bustling theatre becomes quiet while everyone washes off sawdust and stage-dust and paint to put on their best outfits. And then, before the show, we all trickle back into the theatre and greet our co-workers and housemates who we haven’t really seen all week without having to discuss work. After the show, generous supporters of the theatre make us snacks and we all get to enjoy the thing we’ve created–before, of course immediately starting work on other shows.
Opening night has many traditions. My personal favorite is the ritual of passing around the company camera and having each person take five photos, which has resulted in some pretty hilarious pictures.
Most company members, however, vote for stump as their favorite opening night game. It is the official job of technical director Kevin Olesky to bring a large stump to the front of the theater, and everyone stands around it and hammers nails into it. The goal is to hammer somebody else’s nail into the stump when it’s your turn…it’s hard to explain. Here’s a game we played at last week’s safety meeting.
What is a safety meeting, you now may be wondering? That, my friends, is a blog post for another day. I have to prepare for opening.