We just finished our big week of tech, combining all our work in the rehearsal room with elements of design. It was a fun week. I was telling Bill last night that it felt like a long week. Not in the sense that the hours spent at the theatre were long and painful, but rather we achieved so much that it felt like much more than one week’s worth of work. We certainly made a lot of discoveries about the play and went over it several times, learning and honing as we went along.
So we came in Tuesday afternoon to start tech. It’s a whole different feel than the rehearsal room. The actors settle into the dressing room, which becomes their zone, while the designers settle in the house. Stage Manager David Castellanos sits at a tech table (a table specially built to fit in a row of seats). He calls the show, making the sound and lights “go.” He is on headset with Adrienne Bader, the production assistant, who is stationed backstage. She moves set pieces and props, helps actors, and generally keeps the show run smoothly.
Kevin Depinet, the set designer, has designed a beautiful set with architectural features that literally slide in and out. During breaks, he spray-paints the brick walls and discusses tweaks to make the shifting set operate more smoothly. He works a great deal with Nick Heggestad, the properties designer. Much of the show takes place in old and even decrepit environments, so Nick has devoted a great deal of time to ageing and dirtying set pieces. It’s an important detail that helps reveal information about the characters and their lives.
Also sitting at a tech table is Charlie Cooper, the lighting designer. Charlie has to create a different environment for just about every scene, so he spent a lot of tech time beautifully establishing each location. He uses “gobos” to project the shadow of architectural elements, such as windows, on the floor to help establish where the scene takes place. Look for these different elements of light when you come to see the show.
Rachel Anne Healy, the costume designer, does similar work aging and distressing costume pieces. Each day when the actors hit the stage, shirts and jackets look a few years older and a little more worn. Again, these details help to reveal important information about a character. Each character has only one costume and some characters are only in one scene, so each one really counts. We had a really exciting conversation the other night about a character named Laura. She works at a children’s hospital and, in the scene, Eddie and Sam have shown up on her doorstep just after she has returned from work, which is also right before she is about to take her father to dialysis. Brett has revealed this in his writing, so how do we get this story across to the audience? Rachel has dressed Laura in scrubs, her work clothes, but we’re still trying to see if we can add another detail to clarify the situation even further. See what you notice when you watch this scene.
The final designer is Andy Hansen who has created a complete soundscape for the production. There is an evolving rock’n’roll soundtrack that plays in between scenes. Andy wrote the music to carry over from one scene to the next. There are themes and motifs, but each one is specifically crafted for that specific transition. He also has added subtle details into each scene to help establish location: birds, wind, cars, street-sound pouring in when a door opens, and the list goes on.
It’s a terrific team of collaborators, and I’m honored to be a part of this team. Each day we work through the play slowly, stopping and starting and fixing. Then we run it. I sit with Bill and take down his notes that he shares with the actors. Then at the end of every evening we all sit in the theatre and go through Bill’s notes and everyone else’s. We talk and work as a team, going through every department, every issue, every night. We have brought the play to life and will continue to hone, strengthen and grow over the next week. Performances have begun!
Hope to see you at Tudor Court!