I have been in tech all week for a show that I am designing in Queens. For those non-theatre people out there, tech is when all the design elements of a show are introduced for the first time, rehearsed and implemented. As a lighting designer this is when most of my actual work is done. A couple of weeks earlier I designed on paper where all the lights would hang and sent the drawings off to the theatre. The theatre crew then hangs the lights above the stage where I have specified they should be hung. I go in two or three days before the “tech rehearsals” start and focus, which involves standing on the stage and having my crew point the lights where I want them.
At this point I am ready to go. Tech rehearsals begin and in a perfect world, we start at the first moment of the show and walk through it moment by moment, setting levels and recording changes in the computer. For a lighting designer this is a very stressful time. Everyone is waiting for you, so that we can move forward and yet you need time to actually make the scene look the way you envisioned it. It’s very much a hurry up, hurry up, hurry up kind of situation that’s not for the faint at heart. With any luck your ideas match what the director has pictured for the show and tech goes smoothly. Sometimes, it goes the other way and the director hates everything you do and you have to start thinking on your feet and making changes to your design. Once again all of this is done while everyone watches, waiting to move forward.
This is the game I have been playing all week. And this week has not been fun. The theatre’s crew has the combined IQ of a goldfish. I watched on Monday as the TD took 90 minutes to run power to 10 lights. The entire job should have taken 15 minutes and that would have included stopping to smoke a cigarette. I ask the crew person assigned to the show to re-circuit a set of lights this morning when I got to the theatre. As of 7:00 when I left she was still trying to figure out what I was talking about. The same crew member moved the lighting computer today to it’s show position but failed to run the cable that connected it to the lighting equipment. When we were ready to start the show, she couldn’t figure out why the lights wouldn’t come on. These are just a few of the things that have happened this week.
As for the director, he’s on my last fucking nerve. At one point today it took every ounce of control to not snap his head off his little body and shove it up his ass. I know Ur-Spo I should probably look at my issues with anger…but it’s how I felt today. Yesterday, he asked that we add a series of Christmas lights to a platform. (Yes, it’s a bit high schoolish, but what can you do.) These lights were to be used with theatre lights that were all ready in place to create an effect. When I got to the theatre this morning, the TD had installed the lights and wired them as a part of the other Christmas lights in the show. I explained to him that this was a different idea and they needed to be changed. Surprisingly, without much difficulty, he made the change and we were ready to go. Enter the director. He proceeds to tell me that in fact he has changed his mind and the lights do in fact need to be wired with the other Christmas lights to be one unified idea. Now, I agree with the change, I just wished he had told me 30 minutes earlier. But wait it doesn’t end there. I explained to him, that in fact the work was already done the way he had requested it, and although it could be changed it couldn’t happen till tomorrow. He said okay and we started rehearsal. Two minutes into the scene he stops and wants to know why the lights are not on together. I once again explain the problem and we move on. Two hours later he runs over during a musical number to explain to me that these lights are supposed to be on. Once again I explain the situation and we move on. At the end of the rehearsal, we gather for notes and the first note he gives me, is that the lights should come on together not with the other lights. Yet ONCE AGAIN, I explain the situation and we move forward. At 3:30 we start an invited dress. 20 minutes into Act 1, he scurries over to me to ask why the lights are on in this scene. I ONCE AGAIN, explain the situation. 20 minutes later he scurries over once again to find out why the lights aren’t on. I ONCE AGAIN explain the situation. At intermission, he stops me as I go to check in with the stage manager and he ONCE AGAIN questions the lights and why they aren’t working properly. It was at this point that I had had it. I grunted out the explanation yet ONCE AGAIN and swore to myself that if he asked again I would kill him. He didn’t mention it again until the end of the show during notes. I started to explain it to him and stopped myself and said, “You know, you don’t really need to know what’s going on, just trust me when I say it’ll be fixed by tomorrow.”
All day long it was if I was speaking Japanese. He didn’t seem to listen or understand a word that I was saying. I know that sometimes things get a little technical for some people but this really wasn’t that technical. And he’s the one who requested the lights, requested they be wired the way they were and then changed his mind. By the time I left I was so pissed off and angry that I could scream. Luckily the subway ride home is 90 munutes so I had plenty of time to calm down and become a normal person again.
Now I am home and my roommate and I are both on our laptops in the living room. He bought me the new Bette Midler Christmas CD today so we turned off the TV and listened to it. It’s so peaceful and nice, just sitting here listening to the music. It just ended and I searched through our combined collection and now the CD player is randomly playing Christmas music for us. Ah, it’s nice to be home.