Originally Posted: Jun 26th, 2012 by PatrickWalsh. No comments yet [Edit]
Tonight I start technical rehearsals for MACBETH. This is always one of my favorite aspects of any process. I love seeing all of the elements of a show coming together for the first time. Something beautiful and unexpected always comes from this time.
I have the equivalent of about 7 hours to tech my entire show before our dress. This is a very daunting process for me as I have never tech’ed any show in less than 15 hours. Let alone Shakespeare’s greatest achievement in portraying psychological descent into madness. I am just hoping that we move fast and that there are no large hiccups. No small request given that tech can be a beast onto itself. I have seen more then a few individuals (stage managers, designers, actors, and directors) break down under the rigors of a tense technical rehearsal.
This got me thinking about the process of tech’ing and preview periods for shows. They are also different from organization to organization, but once inside an organization they are pretty much the same. Why is that? No one can tell me that “all plays are created equal.” That just isn’t the case. So how do we in the theatre become more flexible about not just tech and preview periods, but rehearsal schedules as well. I mean do you really need as many rehearsals for KING LEAR as you do for BLACKBIRD?
I have worked on a few co-productions that are shared between two theatres. They pool resources and a play can be mounted twice (or more) given it a longer shelf life in front of an audience and allowing people longer for aperformances and understanding of the material to grow. A similar process could be made with a more commercial partner. More then a few Broadway shows have gone this route. We could also tour a production that sparks interest in a community. Much like the German model of producing theatre works.
As for tech and previews. I always feel like what we do is so much predicated on the audience and their response to it. I think we need to designate longer preview periods, as well as adjustment time, for shows. I also believe that every new play deserves this when it is first being performed in front of an audience. This is the first time that the writer and director are able to see how the audience is responding to their work. If they are not responding in the way that was thought, we need to give those people time to retool before critics come to review. It is a shame, but this opening night will largely determine a play’s legacy and future productions. Sometimes years of a playwrights toils are all undone in 2 hours that first night. We need to protect this investment we’ve made in our artists. Because if we don’t, what do we really have?