An Actor's Perspective - Tech Week...

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

  • Massachusetts Columnist

Tech week…ugh…yikes…no…is this really necessary?  Well the simple answer is, yes, tech week is absolutely necessary. Tech week can be structured differently from one theatre group to another, but no matter what, a few pieces of the puzzle are always guaranteed. For starters, exhaustion is guaranteed, some missteps will happen as new elements are added, there will be at least one diva in the cast, the director and/or music director will get upset at least once and someone will miss an entrance. We all dread it, but it’s okay, just think of it as part of the process in getting to opening night.  

A friend of mine once used the term “techausted” and I would whole heartedly agree with him. Tech week brings on a different kind of exhaustion. You are, of course, tired, but you also have to add a feeling of accomplishment in getting through the show and making improvements. Then you have to add the jitters you get about putting it in front of an audience at the end of the week. It’s just a completely different type of tired than your normal everyday tired.  

Oh no, I missed my entrance!!!!!! You could very well be that person this week. You can be the one that completely loses track of where you are in the show and you miss the entrance. You could even be the person who leaves the stage completely empty. It’s okay, because that is why we have rehearsals and I can assure you that you will NEVER miss that entrance again. All it takes is once. 

So many groups have a “Tech Sunday,” that can be a very long day.  In our case we have a 13+ hour day scheduled. We are starting with finishing up our sets, painting, set decorating, adding some special features, spiking set pieces etc. Once that is complete, we are moving to a cue to cue. After that we will actually take a dinner break. After dinner, we will run all of our group numbers which will be immediately followed by a sitzprobe. 

For me a sitzprobe is the perfect way to end a Tech Sunday. First, after a very long day it’s mostly sitting, after working hard all day, that’s a relief.  Hearing the cast sing with the pit orchestra for the first time is a sound that often gives me chills.  Maybe it’s the musician in me (Side Note: I played Saxophone in marching band for years and come from a long line of musicians), but I love that sound. Plus, for this show, we are very lucky, we have nine pit musicians. I realize there are plenty of community theatres out there that have the funds to pay an even larger pit, but for most community theatres this is a large pit.  

Once Tech Sunday is over our set pieces should be spiked, music cues should be timed, lights should be focused and we should feel far more comfortable singing with the added instruments. Then as the week goes on, we will need to add costume pieces, mics and then the best part…an audience. For us, we are very lucky to have great leaders in our director/music director, we have a nine piece pit coming to play behind us and we have a dark night on Thursday before our opening night, but it will still be stressful to get it all together. 

There will be things that go wrong, lights will be on at the wrong time, people will get upset, there will be someone who thinks the world revolves around them, mics won’t all work correctly the first time, people will miss entrances and you will be tired. However, none of that will matter come opening night; it will all be a distant memory. Here’s my suggestion, and I realize this is far easier said than done, try to enjoy tech week. You know it will be crazy, you know there will be stress, late nights and mishaps, but enjoy it. Enjoy the process, concentrate on all the accomplishments you are making, continue bonding as a cast and help each other to complete the wonderful work of art you have all put so much into!