Monday, November 2, 2009

West Side Story Tech - Day... Um... What day is it?

Well, we had an interesting weekend. First I want to thank Noam for his patience. I think it would be fair to say that I would have had major headaches every day this weekend if it wasn't for him being on headset and running the board.

The cast and orchestra are simply phenomenal. The singing, acting, and choreography have been executed brilliantly. You can tell the directors and cast worked very hard to get where they are right now, and they should be commended for that. I haven't seen the costumes yet. The sound guy will have his hands full balancing the body mics with the orchestra - a challenge we always have. Tonight will be the first night for that. The set is almost complete.

I have a lot of opinions about how this show is going lighting-wise. I understand they don't matter - I'm not the LD, I'm not the Dir. My role is nothing more than trained monkey. Yes, it's difficult to be in that position when you see something that has so much more potential than is being exhibited. The show is mostly set in the evenings. Since when does it glow magenta/pink at night or at all? If you have a neon sign on, you'll have a little glow from one small area, but not the whole stage. Something that was pointed out to me yesterday - if it's night, where are the street lights? Or something representing the street lights?

You have a grey brick wall that is your backdrop for the whole show. There are large windows and a doorway in the wall that let you see the orchestra. The orchestra needs light to see their music, so they will have small lights on each music stand. This will cause you to change how you light the rest of the stage, as there will be a lot of light bleed. There will be no true blackouts. A scene you have near the wall that is in low lighting will be washed out by the orchestra lights. All you will see is silhouettes. Since the orchestra has to have light, it's your job as the LD to compensate. Where the lights are brightest is where your attention will be. If your audience is watching the orchestra flip pages instead of the touching scene, you have a problem.

But these observances and the hundreds of others flying thru my head don't really matter as long as the people who are supposed to be happy, are. Is the director truly getting his vision of the show or is he settling? Are the dancers being seen as they should be or are they going to break their necks trying to do dance moves in the dark? Why wasn't the fire escape built so we could take advantage of using an alcove as the balcony? Why does it seem like - again from an outside perspective - that the tech side of this show has been unorganized? Why wasn't the same attention that was focused on the cast side of the show focused on the tech side of the show? Is tech less important? As long as the singing and dancing is good who cares if they can be seen or have the set pieces that help tell the story... Is anyone asking these questions besides someone who's opinion doesn't really matter?

I know that the crew working on this production have worked their butts off trying to produce a good product. But they can only do so much, and work with what they are given. Why should I know if we have two spot operators? Who was responsible for pulling that crew together? It's great that the cast is doing set changes, but aren't they already pulling their weight? They've spent the last three months learning to do what they do, the least we could do is provide them with a couple people back stage to maneuver the sets. Yes, we'd probably still need their help in some places, but that's not what they signed up for.

Again, this is just an outside perspective. It includes my opinions and observations based on how I understand things. I could be completely off base because there are facts out there that I don't know. All I can comment on is what I've seen, and what I think about it. I truly feel that the cast and directors have worked too hard to have to deal with what is lacking from tech. There is obvious strength and motivation behind the people who are responsible for the acting, choreography, and music. I don't see that on the tech side. I see more excuses than productivity.

I really hope that in the end I'll be surprised and that everything I'm concerned about will be for nothing. I hope that the vision of the director and choreographer is reflected in the final product. In the past, that vision would have been apparent immediately and growing each day. As the set comes together, as the lights, props, and costumes come in... As all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled, the united vision of the production staff shines. We spend the final days tweaking a few things here and there and come opening, it's brilliant. I haven't felt that this time. Maybe I've gotten picky and crotchety. Maybe my expectations are out of whack. Whatever it is, I just hope I'm proven wrong. I'd rather go home crying because we had an amazingly powerful, well done, and emotionally gripping production... not because I feel like those that worked so hard are being let down.

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