And so my road has reached its end with the magnificent Marley men. Friday was my last day assisting with Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol and it was a little melancholy. I’d truly enjoyed watching the cast grow during my three week run being their safety net, line noter, and jack of all trades. The past week had been the most impressive as they were now much more comfortable with their lines and were starting to imbue their work with some serious acting.
Friday actually marked the beginning of tech rehearsals for the show. These account for the slowest and longest days for the cast and crew. Traditionally, techs are a 2 day event. Saturday is what is known as the dry tech where the lights and sounds are set up without benefit of the actors. The next day is known as Tech Sunday and it is a very, very long day.
The cast and crew will start early in the day with what is known as a cue to cue rehearsal. What that means is that the cast will give the line(s) that lead into the light and sound cues where adjustments are constantly made. It’s very slow, stop and go work. Depending on the nature of the show, it can be brutally long. For example, when I did Dracula, we started Tech Sunday at 2pm and we called it a night at 2am without the technical work being completed.
“Marley” isn’t a very long show, but it’s technically difficult as it has numerous light and sound cues. After 3.5 hours of work on Friday, the show still had about 50 light cues that needed to be mapped. Those would be finished at Saturday’s dry tech and fine tuned on Sunday’s cue to cue rehearsal.
After the cue to cue ends, the cast and crew normally break for an hour to have a meal. They then come back and run a full tech rehearsal which means doing the entire show with lines, sound, and lights. On Monday, costumes get added to the mix and that continues until opening night.
Once the tech work started, I knew that my particular skills would no longer be needed. The actors have to arrive early and get costumed, so no line running. Once tech starts, actors can no longer call for lines and they no longer get line notes. Also, I wanted to save a little bit of theatre magic for myself for opening night as I neither know all of the light cues nor any of the sound cues.
I also know that the show will morph even more during the week. Once teching begins, layers start being added to the show which helps aid the acting. Lights add one layer. Sound another. Costumes add yet a third. The most important layer is that of the audience. After countless rehearsals, a show desperately needs the x factor of an audience to fuel the performances. The addition of the audience adds something that defies description. Often, it spurs the actors to new discoveries and makes a good show great and a great show mind blowing.
When I announced my departure on Friday, I was amazed and touched by Kevin’s response of “Really?” Even though I wasn’t performing, I was just as much a part of this show as the cast and crew and Kevin’s disappointment at my leaving really made me feel that. I shook his hand, told him it had been a pleasure, and he asked me if it really had been a pleasure.
It surely was. His concern was probably that I had a lot of sitting around time. And I did, but it was also a chance for me to sit under the learning tree. With the way my mind had been opened by Leaving Iowa, I now saw and heard so much more than I once did.
This time around, I saw and heard beats, which I may have missed before and it added such an extra dimension to the experience as well as percolate ideas in my own head. It got my own performance juices flowing and I really wish I could have been on stage with these guys and share this remarkable story with them.
I told Kevin I looked forward to my next audition with him and he replied, “Likewise”, though he said it may be about 5 or 6 years before he directs again. (He’s getting ready to become a father.) I know not what the future may bring, but, hopefully, I will get another opportunity to work with him. For that matter, I hope to get a chance to work with these gifted storytellers on the other side of the stage one day. As it was, I shared a round of hearty handshakes with my comrades, old and new, and faded into the evening with a promise to return on opening night.
As I wait for that magical eve, I’ve started reviewing a few scripts so the future may hold a new story for me and perhaps sooner than anyone suspects. . .