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Blog: Why I love tech week

Posted by Alistair Cope on 20 Nov, 2018

Tech week can be a notoriously tricky time for theatre productions. But actor Alistair Cope argues it should be savoured

People, Places and Things at The Wyndhams Theatre 2016

Tech week gets a bad rep. There, I said it. Sure, it can be long hours, frayed tempers, monumental changes to both staging and design and a general feeling of ‘we’re never going to be ready for opening night’ but I just love them. And I don’t think I’m alone.

As a performer, there’s an air of anticipation and excitement when you finally move into the performance space. You’ve spent weeks in a rehearsal room trying to imagine how it would feel and visualise the full scale of that ‘set-box’ you were shown on your first day. It’s thrilling.

I love the sound of sawing, banging, drilling and the cacophony of noise that comes with lights being rigged and sets going up. Finally having the whole company in one place. Performers, technicians, designers, production, costume, wigs, hair and makeup. Tech week is where all the various departments, who have been working their magic in disparate areas collectively pool their talents and the show comes together.

There’s a whole team of carpenters, electricians and technicians working tirelessly under the guidance of the designers and production team creating a world for the performers to inhabit. I often find I take my breaks sat in the stalls just watching the lighting being tweaked or the sound levels altered. I love absorbing this facet of our industry with which I respect so much and know so little about. The detail that goes in to every lighting or sound change, the precision needed from the technical team to cue each element for that seamless scene change.

'Tech week demands you to make changes to your performance, usually for the better'

Tech week for me is also when the show seems to ‘bed in’. You’ve run it a few times in the rehearsal room but it’s never the same as when you are in the space and trying to find the perfect corner for that dreaded quick change or finally work out how long it takes you to get from DSR to USL via the sub stage area while simultaneously collecting props and swapping radio mics. I always make discoveries during tech week as my mind is adapting to the space, the sound and the realisation that the play/musical is so much bigger than the four walls of the rehearsal room. It demands you to make changes to your thought process and your performance, usually for the better. Tech week is when you realise you have to push harder, work harder, trust each other and trust the work you have done.

You get to practice all those changes over and over, you get to explore and play with a world that has been created for you to inhabit. You form amazing bonds with stage hands and technicians who you’ve only just met and now trust them implicitly with something that means so much to you. It means so much to them too.

I’m a performer, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the buzz of an audience and the warm feeling of applause. But its tech week where the bonds of a show are made. When you all work your damnedest to get this thing done. Where the theatre family finally comes together.

All hail tech week week! Bring it on!

Topics: backstage, Guest Blog, Community

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