Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dry Tech

Today, being a Saturday, is Dry Tech day for In the Next Room.

This is the day lighting and sound designers work with the director and stage manager - inventing, explaining, experimenting, applying design ideas to the rhythms of the play and... well, seeing what works.  For weeks or longer, these designers have thought through the challenges of the play and assembled ideas, light fixtures, sounds, or music.  They create paperwork - plans locating lighting instruments and notes until they create a Paper Tech - basically taking the script and written charts of what sound or light ought to occur where, then talking through this with the director.  (Simple shows may not have a formal Paper Tech.).

The Dry Tech ("dry" because no actors yet - think "hard" and "soft"-ware, right?  Theater has "wet" and "dry" techs, though it sorta sounds more polite to say Dry Tech and Cue-to-Cue.  No one wants to call actors all wet.)  Where was I?  Ah!  Dry Tech is the time to take those ideas that work on paper and see if they actually work 3D in time and space.  So the lighting designer plays with colored lights and - even more important - with transitions and timing.  The sound designer's job is similar.  Then toss in practicing with the snow machines or moving scenery or whatever other technical fun has to happen on-stage.

Tomorrow will be Cue-to-Cue (Wet Tech!) with actors onstage.  All technical aspects of the show become integrated with the text: actors speak dialogue, open and close doors, walk from one pool of light to another... and spend hours waiting for the next tech moment.  The different parts of a production become a Whole.

Here are links to earlier posts on Tech:  Set Designer's Life - Tech  and an on-line site on Hell Week (AKA Tech).

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