Welcome to the Chrysalis Youth Theatre tech week survival guide!
Here you will find information vital to the successful navigation of the final week of rehearsals.Sure, you could probably hack your way through this week on your own.But why do that when you can learn from the vast library of experiences of those who have come before you?By reading this document, you will learn common mistakes to avoid, what to eat, drink, wear, and bring, and tips and tricks to make even the beginner look like a seasoned professional.
If you have any questions, or if you feel that there is something that should be added to this guide, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
“Technical week (also called tech week, tech, torture week, production week, or hell week) refers to the week prior to the opening night of a play, musical or similar production in which all of the technical elements (such as costumes, lights, sound, set and makeup) are present during rehearsal for the first time.
Prior to this point, the actors may have been rehearsing in a separate rehearsal hall, or on the stage but without all technical elements present. At this point in the rehearsal process, it is expected that the creative aspects of the production are ready. Actors have their lines memorized; lights, sound, scenery, and costumes have been designed and completely constructed. If the production is a musical, then the orchestra has rehearsed the music completely, and any dancers are prepared with their choreography memorized. During technical week all of the various technical elements are fully implemented, making the rehearsals very similar to the actual performance.
The purpose of tech week is to rehearse the show with all technical elements in place. This allows the actors to become familiar with the set and costumes, the technical production crew to iron out unforeseen problems, and the director to see how everything comes together as an artistic whole. Tech week is when practical problems with the implementation of production elements are discovered. For example, an actor may report that their costume restricts their movement or that a hand prop is overly cumbersome. A set door that performed fine the week before may bang shut too loudly now that there are live microphones on the stage.
The first few rehearsals are characterized by the frequent stopping and starting of scenes so that the technical crew can practice their necessary duties (such as executing their cues or scene changes correctly). Everything that goes wrong during a rehearsal is expected to be fixed by the next day.
For both the technicians and actors, it is the most hectic part of a show's run, as they are forced to do a massive amount of work getting timings and cues correct, often without having seen the scenes in their entirety. Tech week is a very stressful time for all involved in a production. As the week wears on, sleep deprivation increases and tempers often wear thin.
Once the show is running smoothly, the last one or two rehearsals of technical week are often dress rehearsals open to the public in which the play is performed completely, sometimes with the audience purchasing discounted tickets.”
Triple-check your calendar!There are no conflicts allowed during tech week.Make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time before rehearsal so that you can get to rehearsal well-fed, well-hydrated, well-rested, in a calm frame of mind, and with all your snacks, water, dance shoes, undergarments, and personal hygiene products.You cannot be late for a tech rehearsal or a performance.If you get on the freeway at the last minute and you realize you’ve forgotten something, you will just have to do without it.
Eat healthily!You will be spending a week in a high-adrenaline, sleep-deprived, germ-filled environment.To stay healthy, happy, energized, and performing your best, eat solid, healthy, home-cooked food leading into and during tech week.If you eat lots of sugar, or lots of fast-food, your immune system will be weakened and your digestive tract will get clogged up.Chances are, you do not have an under-study in this show.Trust me, you do not want to have to perform when you have the flu, a sore-throat, a horrible cough, or any other type of illness.
Be smart, stay safe!You will have to be fully functional for the performances.Don’t go skiing, or skate-boarding, or participate in any other high-risk sports or activities immediately before tech week.If you have a broken leg, you will not only have a hard time performing, but you will be a safety risk every moment you are on or near the stage.You will need to be able to move around safely in the dark without tripping over numerous obstacles, and be able to quickly and surely dodge out of the way of set pieces, actors rushing late to get on stage, etc (and that’s not even counting dancing or using stairs or ladders).This is hard enough with two good legs.If you have a broken leg, torn muscle, or other serious injury, you are a nightmare waiting to happen.
oWhite shirt or camisole or slip
oDress belt or similar
Remember, pant legs ride up, skirts fly up, white costumes can often be seen through, etc.Make sure that you are wearing undergarments such that anything the audience might see fits with your character (or time period), or at least covers anything that would be distracting to the audience (e.g., bare ankles on a guy wearing pants is extremely distracting).We don’t necessarily expect you to wear wool stockings, but we also don’t want to see Nike socks on a highly dignified British gentleman of the 1800s. There will be bright lights shining on you, and you will be running, jumping, lying down, reaching high in the air, etc.Assume the worst will happen at some point and dress accordingly.
Also worth mentioning: if you have a “quick change” in the show, or if you are uncomfortable undressing in front of others, please wear a slip or similar garment.Sometimes this decision is up to you.Other times it is required as you might not have time to go all the way to the dressing room, requiring you to change just off-stage in the presence of others.You may also have a costume malfunction that requires you to walk around backstage (or even onstage!) not entirely dressed.For your sake and the sake of others, please consider this issue and dress accordingly.When in doubt, subtle and modest is best.This is not the time to wear your Superman boxers.I remember a show where the zipper on a wedding dress burst apart and the actress wearing it had to spend the whole wedding scene onstage with her back facing the audience, with all eyes on her.Fortunately, she was wearing a slip. There was another time, however, when that same person had to change her dress on stage in the middle of a song, with all eyes on her.One night she forgot to wear a slip and didn’t realize it until she was already on stage.She had to make that change in her regular under-clothes.Fortunately, it was tech week and there were only a couple staff members in the audience.AGAIN: Assume the worst will happen at some point and dress accordingly!
Note: Quick changes have been known to be as short as 19 seconds for a complete costume change.Practicing at home can help to keep the stress down when you’re doing it for real during the show.
Personal Hygiene Products
·Stage make-up - (Ben Nye basic kit at minimum. Research/shop well in advance)
·Hairbrush and Comb
·Hair gel - (some spike your hair, some flatten/style, be sure you get the right thing for your character!)
·Hair spray - (extra/super strength)
·Make-up wipes or wash cloth
·Hand sanitizer (you never know when the bathroom might run out of soap)
·Lotion - (your skin will get dried out by the makeup and the hot, dusty environment)
·Non-Menthol throat lozenges/cough drops - (never hurts, invariably there is always someone who needs them)
·Towel and/or bathrobe - (to use when putting on makeup or eating in costume or lounging backstage or to use when the bathroom runs out of paper towels for drying your hands)
·Nothing too messy/sugary/attractive to ants
·Nothing too sticky
·Nothing that will get seeds stuck in between your teeth, or turn your tongue, lips, or teeth black, purple, pink, or any other un-natural color
·Be sensitive to those around you (or those you have to touch on-stage!)(You don’t want to aggravate their allergies, or do a romantic scene with terrible breath.)
·Bananas (though these can dry your mouth out)
·Bring twice as much as you think you need (very few things worse than running out of water!)
·If you’re going to splurge on something like Fiji Water, this is the time to do it!
·Drinking lots of water will keep you healthy and energized, keep your vocal cords moist, etc.
Things to keep in mind:
oYou will sweat a lot!You will be singing, running, dancing, standing under banks of hot lights, and performing other high adrenaline, highly sweaty activities.You have to replenish this lost fluid.
oIn the theatre, there will be hot lights shining on you, lots of dust in the air, and air conditioning blowing.You WILL get dried out unless you drink lots of water!
oI know one group that always ended up with at least one really bad bloody nose per production.That does happen if you don’t drink enough!You don’t want it to happen to you!
Despite all the craziness and stress, tech week tends to be one of the most magical weeks of the entire production.You get to experience everything coming together into one special show, and you will bond with your cast-mates on a much deeper level than you have before.There will be hard times, but there will also be a lot of laughter and love, and many wonderful memories will be made.
Be prepared to get to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of every person involved with the production.You will all be tired and stressed, and you’ll have to be vulnerable in front of a lot of people.That’s a very uncomfortable place to be, and a potentially explosive (or implosive) combination.Please try to remain as calm and patient as you can.Stressing out does not make the situation any better.You may feel hurt by something somebody says or does, or you may be extremely irritated by the behavior of another person.Do not hold on to those feelings!Those feelings will only drag you down and make you (and the people around you) miserable.If you need to, find a happy place.Find a quiet corner backstage to relax, let go of negative emotions, and get into the right frame of mind for performing.Other cast members might bother you, or try to tell you some really funny joke.Calmly and respectfully communicate to them your need for some space.If somebody communicates this need to you, or if they just look like they need some space, please respect that need.
Remember, the best you can do on a particular night might not be your usual best.We all have days and performances that aren’t as good as others.Don’t let that get to you.Just relax, warm up well, and do the best you can at that particular point in time.
·Be sure to express appreciation early and often to family members and others who may be helping you with final preparations, transportation and nerves!
·Treat every day like a new day, every scene like a new scene.Don’t let the accident, argument, or embarrassing moment in the past keep you from loving and supporting all of your cast-mates and doing your best.
·You are a family!You will only succeed if you love each other, support each other, encourage each other, comfort each other, cry together, laugh together, and work together as one body to rise above any challenges that come your way.
If you prepare well and follow the advice laid out above, you will be well set up for success.Go out there and shine!
-Steven Brown Artistic Director
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. -Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
Use what talents you possess; The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. -Henry Van Dyke
The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. Arthur C. Clarke
When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those that are. - Richard Hooker
Every artist was first an amateur. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden
Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. Booker T. Washington
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. -Judy Garland
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. -Epictetus
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you...you'll be a Man, my son! ~ Rudyard Kipling