Monday, August 19, 2013

Happy Tech Week!

Celebrated: At Gaslight Theater before every opening night

For once I have a good excuse for my long absence from this blog: rehearsals for William Inge's Picnic, which I am directing for Gaslight Theater. We open on Friday, which means that this week is tech week, a series of rehearsals that lets us put the actors together with lights and sounds and costumes and props before the audience shows up (I hope) this weekend.

Community theater types will often refer to this time as "hell week," but that's not a phrase I ever use, and I tend to snap at people who use it around me. Yes, tech week is a lot of work. It's tedious and chaotic and frustrating, with too many people needing too many things, and too many last-minute decisions to be made. But at Gaslight Theater, at least, we're all volunteers, which means that we're all doing this for love of the process. As crazy-making as tech week can be, this is the fun part — the mysterious alchemy of 11 actors and half a dozen crew members coming together to make something that is far more than any of us could imagine or create on our own.

A friend asked last week why I do this, and this is why. Directing a play is an object lesson in control, or the illusion thereof. I started this process with a vision of what the play would look like, sound like, feel like. Over the last two months, I've had to give up a lot of those visions in exchange for something that turns out to be better than anything I could have come up with on my own. Every person involved in this production has contributed something I could not have imagined or demanded, of their own free will and the sheer joy of theater, and I'm overwhelmed by the magic of it all.

We had a costume parade last night, under the lights, and it literally took my breath away to see how my friends and neighbors have transformed themselves into William Inge's passionate Kansans. I'm impatient to get back to the theater tonight for our first full dress rehearsal, and I can't wait to show it all to an audience on Friday. Come see us.

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