Letters to Holly

Monday, December 8

Rehearsal Sixteen: Tech

Normally a tech runs like so: The crew get the script, and the actors walk through any moments that require sound or light changes. The director sees the effects and makes adjustments based on technical options or artistic wallop. With all the cues set, the entire play is rehearsed to lock down the tech stuff. In a full-sized three-act show, this can take literally all day. This show, however, is practically black box. Aside from the opening and close of tech show, the only effects are for the ghost entrances. This tech runs differently.

Our Scrooge is the effects guru, and he spends the entire rehearsal adjusting lights and teaching the new person running the effects board. She was the director of the courtroom show last fall. She doesn't seem to adjust well to the board controls. Maybe it's a stodgy set-up. I dunno. Anyway, instead of nailing down the cues, the director has us run the rehearsal as normal with the effects popping in on those rare moments that call for them. Meanwhile, the crew move among the actors to move lights. At one point, Marley is in the witness box reciting lines as a light guy wobbles on a ladder right behind him.

We go to the warehouse before the rehearsal to grab our costumes. The new theatre green room is in shambles. The exiting partitions are gone, wiring hangs from the ceiling, the floor is filthy, and there's no heat. One could argue this is method preparation for Victorian characters. We have a small space heater running, and a few free-standing screens to use for changing clothes. But it's freezing in there, and we'll be here mostly when the sun goes down. Thankfully, most of the actors are onstage the entire play. If they stayed in the room for the play, they'd get sick. Like me, with the Klingon death flu.

The director asks if I should go back home, and I argue that I get shaky just thinking of missing a rehearsal this close to the show opening. I sip some home-brewed tea and pop my cough drops. The director reads for Scrooge, and I read for him when it's her character's turn to take the stand.

My Cratchit costume is just right. I hate the five-button fly though, and I can see now why the Victorians earned their reputation as prudes: It would take too long to get out of the clothes to have any fun. The ghost costume doesn't reach the floor, and the hood shows too much of my face. I'll go to the costume store and buy a mesh mask. But I enjoy wearing the get-up, and the gloves allow me to make broad muppet-like gestures. I'm just this side of waving my arms over my head like Kermit. Brick looks downright jaunty in his costume, but he's unsure about his fake sideburns. I have to ask when we're to shave down to the muttonchops.

We end about three hours after we start, unheard of for techs. I'm not complaining. I'm headsick, and the director tells me outright to stay home if I'm not any better Monday night. Frankly, I'd have to be bedridden to stay away. We need to tighten our lines. We get an audience in four nights.

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