While what the actors do on stage is vital to the success of a show, what goes on behind the scenes is just as important. Professional theatres have technical crews that handle lights, sound, and any special effects. Community theatres don’t often have the luxury of an entire technical crew, and at our theatre that is especially true.
For our last production, however, we had two people volunteer to do sound and lights, and what is really wonderful is that they would like to form a tech crew. Hopefully that can happen. Bruce, who volunteered to make a soundtrack and run sound has professional experience, and he was able to do so much more than put tracks on a CD. He had a computer system very similar to this:
While Bruce did not seem to care, most professional technicians do not like to be called “techies.”I didn’t know that until I did some research.
The tech crew in professional theatres are led by a TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, sometimes referred to as the TD. The TD co-ordinates all technical aspects of the production, organizing tech calls, ordering equipment, and working with the set designers. Sometimes the stage manager will wear two hats and assume the responsibilities of the TD. In community theatre many roles overlap, as we don’t have designated TDs or set designers, so the entire troupe pitches in to get a show mounted.
At some point, all shows should have a TECHNICAL REHEARSAL, more commonly called the TECH RUN. Ideally, the last week of rehearsals will include all tech elements to make sure everything is coordinated between lights, sound, and what is happening on stage. Little things, like the sound of a train coming after the actor has said, “Here comes the train from Boston,” have to be caught and fixed before opening night.
I did not know there was an official term for it, but I always meet with the tech people and go through the scripts for each one, talking about all the sound and light cues. This is called a PAPER TECH session, and it is most often held separately from the regular rehearsal schedule. Prior to the session, I go through the scripts marking all the cues. For this last production, I had a light designer who did that for the lighting script, and it was such a relief not to have that responsibility. For one thing, I am not a lighting designer by any stretch, and I did not need one more thing to do.