Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tech Week Begins for Radium Girls

Tech week is often called "hell week," and each show I am in, I ask myself if it's going to be hell.

My answer for Radium Girls, based on the first day with all technical elements and costumes in place is, not yet. A bit hot under the collar, maybe, but not quite hell at this time.

I have never been a technical person. As an actor, I know when something technical has not gone correctly. Such as last night when a chair I was supposed to sit in wasn't set. Or when lights do/do not come on as they are supposed to. I can't say exactly what can be done to correct most technical problems. I only know they exist, most of the time, and the issues, particularly with the timing and cues for the lights continue to throw some road blocks at the show.

I don't want to speculate. There are issues with the lights and sound, and some with the running crew, and that's all I'm going to say about it. It has been frustrating at times. But when there are problems such as these, all one can do is work extra hard at one's own job, and hope for the best. Adapt to what happens as it happens, and continue with the scene. (I grabbed a chair from elsewhere on the set and sat in it for my scene, in response to the missing chair I mentioned above.)

My biggest issues are all my own, from a non-acting standpoint. Costumes, specifically. I have several quick-bordering-on-instant costume changes to make through the course of the show. (Mostly in Act II.) I've been experimenting with a few methods, and none of them have been perfect. I have to leave a jacket in the middle of the floor, or a prop on a set piece when I exit. Yet I have permission to change one or two things here and there, which I think will make it easier from now on. I will try them tonight.

I admit, I don't at all like having to try new technical things this late into a process. We open officially on Friday, with the possibility of a donation-only audience on Thursday. I like everything to be happening by rote almost by now. This is the second show I've been in this year with a lot of changes happening in order to catch up in the final week. I won't lie and say that it doesn't concern me at all.

Yet in the end, I know I am about telling the story. Playing the character. If in the end I forget a hat or put on a wrong jacket, but convey to the audience a living, memorable character, I will be for the most part satisfied with that. Not all of the delays are my fault, and I won't drain energy from my actual performance to feed some of the other issues that have arisen. If I find a smooth fix in the next day or two that doesn't tax me too much, fine. But if not, I am putting my focus on character, and letting that speak for itself. I consider that the actor's ultimate responsibility.

And believe it or not, that aspect felt solid to me last night. My character work, my presence in scenes went well. In some moments I felt better than I have thus far during the rehearsal process. I hope of course that stays, and continues to improve my performance in fact.

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