Tech Week, Day Two

Today we did a run-through of Act II of Frankenstein. In addition to the sound and light cues, there are a number of things that we have been working out with effects and costumes.

Light designer Dave Baldwin discusses the operation of a fog machine with stage hand Jeanette Nuss - Sept. 27, 2011

Light designer Dave Baldwin discusses the operation of a fog machine with stage hand Jeanette Nuss – Sept. 27, 2011


New crew member Jeannette Nuss arrived tonight. She will be our stage hand, which means that just about anything that happens behind the scenes on the stage will be her responsibility to either do or assist. That will include making sure that things like the fog machine are in place. It may include helping with costume changes, making sure that the communications system and audio monitors are on, and that the backstage lights are on and pointed properly.

Stage manager Sharon Adler, Jeannette, and I will be the technical crew for the show. Now we’re all here, each of us learning what we and each other will have to do during the show. As someone who has done stage managing on occasion, I can tell you that when everyone involved pays attention and knows when and how things are supposed to work, mistakes are a lot less likely, and a lot easier to correct quickly.

In case you’re wondering why our lighting designer is discussing a fog machine with the tech crew, there are a couple of reasons. The first is that he happens to know how it works. More importantly, though, it, like just about everything that creates, bends, or filters light is something he will have a say in. In this case, it is part of an effect he is going for, so he deliberately chose to make it part of the show.

Ana Denton runs lines, Allan Loucks runs sound, as Adrian Cerrato (Victor) and Russ Kay (The Creature) rehearse a scene during a run-through, Sept. 27, 2011

From left, Ana Denton runs lines, and Allan Loucks runs sound, as Adrian Cerrato (Victor) and Russ Kay (The Creature) rehearse a scene during a run-through, Sept. 27, 2011

As the actors rehearse, lots of things are going on around them. In the photo above, Ana Denton is coaching actors on lines. At this point, of course, the actors know their lines, but while they’re distracted by having to work with costumes, props, and set dressing for the first time, sometimes they forget. Ana’s there to help them remember. This show presents actors with a particular challenge – it’s a literate script, and it uses Victorian-era language. It would be all too easy for an actor to fall into a more modern version of a line if folks like Ana weren’t there to make sure they didn’t.

Volunteer Ana Denton runs lines, and composer Allan Loucks runs sound at a tech rehearsal for BLT's Frankenstein - Sept. 27, 2011

Volunteer Ana Denton runs lines, and composer Allan Loucks is at the tech rehearsal for BLT’s Frankenstein – Sept. 27, 2011

Just in these first days of Hell week, we’ve had several different line readers. They provide an invaluable service, and someone who is good at simultaneously reading, paying attention to what’s being said, and correcting what is said might find this a good way to help out his or her local theatre.

Allan Loucks, who composed an original score for Frankenstein, that serves as the complete soundtrack, is helping by offering final suggestions to how the music is to be mixed to help get the sound just right.

Speaking of things Jeanette and I will be doing, here’s Adrian Cerrato, who plays Victor, working with what may once again become the bane of the stage crew’s existence:

Adrian Cerrato (Victor) works at his operating theatre during a tech rehearsal for BLT's Frankenstein, Sept. 27, 2011

Adrian Cerrato (Victor) works at his operating theatre during a tech rehearsal for BLT’s Frankenstein, Sept. 27, 2011

The “operating table” he is working on is actually an old hospital gurney. Those gurneys were built to survive being wheeled around with the equivalent of two or three normal-sized people on them. This one must weigh close to three hundred pounds. We have to lift it onto and off the stage every night.

It’s also a complicated piece of machinery. There are almost a dozen foot pedals and levers on it, all of which stop some part or another of it from moving. As part of the stage crew for BLT’s Rocky Horror Show a few seasons ago, I often had to drag the thing off stage, because the actors couldn’t get all the wheels released while they were doing the production number it was a part of. It wasn’t easy, even with the actors trying desperately to help get it out of their way.

We love the gurney, we just wish it was made out of aluminum.

Tonight was pretty busy. I suspect the rest of the week will be even busier.

 

UPDATE:  To clarify Allan’s role as a composer of the entire score used in this production.

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