Directors direct. Actors act. And us? Well, we do what ever it is we’re told to do, really. It is our job to make sure that there is a set for the actors to perform in, and then to point lights at it. We are, for lack of a better term, the “techs”.
Our job is a varied one, to be sure. We are currently working on Not About Heroes (opening on the 31st July), a play focused on the friendship between WW1 poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
So far on his production we have succeeded in making the Studio theatre more untidy than it has ever been before; which is an important part of our job. The mess is integral to the artistic process.
Actually, that’s a lie. The mess isn’t integral to anything. But I have to try and justify it somehow, don’t I? If anything, the mess is an impediment; we’re constantly looking for the spanner.
Perhaps we should tidy up?
I think we’ll tidy up.
As techs, you may not be entirely surprised to learn, we mostly deal with the technical side of things; computers, lights, Gaffa tape and so forth. Not About Heroes will be the first production using our new lighting board, something we’ve been having to get to grips with fairly swiftly. This shiny new piece of equipment, which controls all of the lights, is a big set up from it’s predecessor, mostly because it doesn’t turn on the green lights at it’s own discretion. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes the green lights are exactly what we want. But not all the time. They tend to make the actors look a bit sickly.
But this is not the only new piece of equipment. We have also been blessed (or just maybe cursed?) with some software that allows us to do clever things with image projection. At first glance, this software looks like the most complicated thing in the world. At second glance, it has been overtaken only by the twin clichés of rocket science and brain surgery. Only after a few hours of fumbling blindly does it begin to make any sense. Hopefully we are now familiar enough with it to achieve the desired effect.
“Hopefully” is very much the operative word in that sentence.
But what exactly is the desired effect? Well, usually when using the projector we can only display one image or video at a time, with little control over where it falls within the stage. This software allows us to aim separate images at separate, specially set-up, pieces of gauze. With a few more hours of tinkering, I reckon that it’ll look quite good.
People often get the impression that we techs spend all of our time indoors, in dark rooms. This is not true. Only about 90% of our time is spent indoors, in dark rooms. We’re allowed to go outside occasionally, when the play calls for it. Just the other day we went foraging for bits of dead tree in the woods behind the theatre. A hunt which proved fruitful; the Studio is now adorned with large twigs and branches.
It’s more visually appealing than I’m making it sound. Come and see Not About Heroes if you don’t believe me. And even if you do, come and see it anyway.
-Merlyn & Mel