Written by Sarah Bradley
This past week was the last of rehearsals. In theatre the final week is usually called ‘Tech Week’ and is reserved for technical rehearsals. It is when the cast and crew are finally able to string the entire production together and practice it on the stage.
On Sunday morning the crew had an extremely early start to begin getting the theatre ready for the play. This is called the ‘get in’. They helped move the set into the theatre, painted the theatre’s floor and hung all the lights for the lighting design. This type of work usually takes a lot of time as there is so much too do.
Our set was particularly difficult to move into the theatre as it consists of one particularly large and heavy set piece. There was also a huge amount to be painted. The Scenic Artists spent a lot of time with the Set Designer trying to understand their artistic vision. When the set was fully constructed they were then able to paint the set to match the Designer’s vision.
On Tuesday the cast were allowed to join the crew on-stage and practice their scenes. Throughout this production a lot of our set is moved around by the ensemble. We used this time on Tuesday to practice moving all the set pieces, paying particular attention to safety. It took us the most part of the day to determine the best way to manipulate it but by the following morning we had learnt how to do so in style and were ready to get the show on its feet.
From Wednesday onward we worked meticulously to piece all the elements of the show together. We worked chronologically, scene by scene, putting the acting, lighting and sound together on stage. This process is called ‘teching the show’ and is very time consuming. It usually takes a few days to go through an entire play in a big production. After we had completed ‘teching’, it was time for the dress rehearsal.
As the show’s roles have been double cast, we required two dress rehearsals to give each team their chance to perform and get accustomed to their roles on-stage. For us Directors, it was also our first opportunity to witness the play in its entirety before the paying public.
Throughout previews we have the chance to make slight adjustments to the show, potentially reworking staging or technical elements which require tightening. In Theatre, this procedure typically continues until ‘lock down’ – the last day anything in a show can be altered. This date is usually selected in advance of Press Night – the evening when the media is invited to come and review a show and when the production team celebrate their official opening night. With previews now under way, we look forward to celebrating our official opening on Tuesday 28th June. We hope you can join us during the run!
Sarah is one of the Assistant Directors of King Lear from Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, working alongside Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris.
Production photography by Simon Annand