Author Topic: Rehearsals: Running Tech, etc.  (Read 8704 times)

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IntrospectiveG

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Rehearsals: Running Tech, etc.
« on: Oct 10, 2006, 04:36 pm »
I've worked with lots of SM's in many capacities but never done it myself. My questions are: what is the typical way to run tech? WHat does a paper tech entail? How do you annotate and call cues, how long between a standby and a Go?

Thats all for right now. I think. Thanks!
« Last Edit: Feb 11, 2008, 01:04 pm by PSMKay »

fuzzy_7

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #1 on: Oct 10, 2006, 06:33 pm »
If it is a dry tech you are working with technicians only going from cue to cue (Q2Q). If it is a wet tech, it could be a Q2Q with actors and techs or a the first runthroughs with actors and techs. A paper tech is where the SM sits with designers and technical director to discuss how tech week will be run (you are running the meeting). I usually wait between 5-10 seconds for a standby and a go. That really depends on how many cues are in the sequence and how quickly the sequence moves (and how fast your ops move).
Derek A. Fuzzell

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #2 on: Oct 11, 2006, 12:07 am »
I've done a lot of different types of tech rehearsals, but the type I find I like best are just working through the show.  Not a cue to cue per se, though if we're short on time, I'll skip chunks.  I run each bit as often as I need to to feel confident and we move on.  I find that lighting designers like this kind of method because it gives them a chance to work ahead, or to see that 10 minute slow fade they just wrote...

As for notation, during tech, I usually write lightly in pencil, and draw lines to the proper work free hand.   I always go back and rewrite my book, partially because it reminds me what has happened in the course of the tech rehearsal.  I draw lines with a ruler to the right word, or even syllable.  My standbys are usually half a page before, depending on other cues and pacing of course.

I personally hate paper tech, but in college we always used to do it.  Pretty much you sit down with the director and the designers, and rough sketch out the placement of the cues. 

Mac Calder

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #3 on: Oct 11, 2006, 08:49 am »
It is largely SM preference, however the way I run it is we start about 3 to 4 lines before a cue sequence, and we work until a line or so after, then I call stop. Over cans I do a check with all involved parties that the cue worked fine, then I call out the next start position.

There are 3 main things that contribute to a well run "wet" tech, I believe - they are that:

a) you keep things moving. If fixing a problem (ie with desk programming) will take over 3 minutes, that is too long, and should be noted and fixed at a later time (without actors). Exceptions being dangerous problems.

b) you do not keep repeating one sequence over and over again. Run it the first time, if there is a problem, see if it was just a case of lack of attention or something - if so, you can either move on or re-run it, if it is a more complex problem (hard sequence etc) slow it down, run through it at the slow pace, then re-run at speed. If there are still problems, note it and fix at a later time (without actors)

c) you must communicate commands sucsinctly - don't blabber on, during tech, be all business. Do not tollerate actors talking, do not accept people not paying attention, and most of all, do not allow the director to hijack.

My cues are drawn up something like this:

+------+
| LX15 |  script->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
+------+------------^
| SD03 |
+------+

SB LX15-20 script->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
----------------------^

basically, GO's are written in a box, either above or below the line into the script, SB's are prefixed with SB and have no box.

Standard calling tends to be something along the lines of this:

Quote
SM: Stand by LX 15
LX: Standing by

SM: LX 15 .... Go!

I like to leave at least 3 decent length beats between a standby and a go - however it all depends on how much time is needed - deck crew may need a minute, Fly's 15 seconds, LX, 1 second. Your ops will tell you if SB's are too short, or too long.






MatthewShiner

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #4 on: Oct 11, 2006, 10:21 am »
Dry tech is usually the time for the deisgners to sit down with the SM to disucss cue placement - I find this is pretty much just a school thing, as in regional theatre I have never had one in my life.  It's a waste of the designers' time most of the time.

Running a tech is the HARDEST part of a stage manager's job.  It really is.  You need to balance so many people's needs, while being a strong advocate for the show.  I don't think it is a skill that is easily taught, and after doing this professionaly 18 years, I find my style still evolving.

Yes, you do want to keep things moving, but the goal is not to finish teching the show in record time.  No one will give you a reward for teching a show in the fastest amount of time.  Tech will take as long as tech will need to take.  Meet with your director and production manager and ask when you want to get a dress run in, and then schedule that in your mind, and divide the rest of the tech time up for the play.  Remember, opening sequences of acts will always take time.

I disagree with Mac Calder's opinion about desk fixes - if it is in terms of lighting, most likely he will need the actors there to light it.  I think there is a desire by a lot of young stage managers to say, "This is taking too long, we will come back and tech it later."  Yes, this is sometimes the answer - especially if there is something physically that needs to change with the production - but tech time is tech time, and that is why we have tech.  Being union, I am called pretty much the same amount of time the actors are called, so except when they are getting into costume, I don't have a lot of free time I can store up to use later.  Actors need to learn that this is a very time consuming process.  They got to rehearse for X amount of weeks, we now have a week for a lot of other people to do their jobs.  Same thing about running sequences over and over; I think it is best to have actors there . . . they are the ones setting the pace on stage, and their traffic pattern should be taken care of.

Keep everyone one focus at the job at hand and keep safety the number one priority.  Make sure you finish teching the show in time.  That is your job.

BUT . . . remember to have a light touch to everything.  You have been working for 10 hours with 5-10 voices in your headset, but most likely the actors have had it worse, sitting around for 10 hours with nothing to do.  I try to keep things light with a casual joke at break times, when holding for a light cue, engage the actors in quick conversation, and continually keeping them updated on what we are holding for.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

smejs

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #5 on: Oct 11, 2006, 05:28 pm »
Quote
I try to keep things light with a casual joke at break times, when holding for a light cue, engage the actors in quick conversation, and continually keeping them updated on what we are holding for.

AND (as I'm sure Matthew does), be sure to say it over headset, too.  You may just get a response like, "Oh, we're done!" from whomever you thought you were waiting on (especially, if you can't see that person yourself to see if they're still busy pushing buttons, etc).  And be sure to have your assistants backstage keep people informed what the holds are for too.

Erin

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #6 on: Oct 12, 2006, 11:30 pm »
I think the tone and pace of a tech is different with every show.  Sometimes you have a lot to get through in a short period of time, and you work at a quicker pace. Other times you have more than enough time.  I did a show last year where the tech was pretty straight forward other than one video sequence, but the acting was in terrible shape come tech (it was a new play with a 2 week rehearsal process and rewrites throughout).  So I let the director know that unless I told him I needed to work something, he could do an acting work through of the play, because that was where the time was most needed.  I'd call cues as he worked, the lighting designer would tweak, occasionally the director would stop to adjust a lighting look.  We worked the video sequence for a while(we had a TV turned on onstage, in the round, so it had to have a real feed of a Bill Clinton speech that the characters were watching).  It was a very laid back tech, but it was what that particular production needed.

ESM_John

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #7 on: Oct 15, 2006, 04:58 pm »
When is the best time to "rough in" cues. I am about a week away from tech for our production of "Rumors", but this being my first time stage mananging instead of just assisting, i never had to assemble the calling script. Will the LX designer tell me where he is going to have lighting changes? I know that i should write lightly and be prepared to change, but i was just wondering.

Also, when do you begin calling these cues in tech week?

Mac Calder

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #8 on: Oct 16, 2006, 04:28 am »
My standard policy is I want a "final draft" of cue placements by 3 days before bump in, and I have it all roughed in by the plotting session. The end product is often quite a bit different as timings change etc.

Then the way things generally run in tech week (on shows I work - in the real pro world, things may be quite different):

Bump-in, Plot, Tech, Dress.

You start "calling" in tech.


ChaCha

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #9 on: Oct 20, 2006, 04:11 pm »
I have almost never written in LX cues before the plotting session. I sit next to the LD and Director at the production desk and write them in as they plot them. Otherwise I'd just be rubbing things out right through plotting. Even if I am working with the rare LD who produces a comprehensive cue list in advance I usually wouldn't write cues in before plotting. I'd just have the list on the desk and write in as we go...there is always time as the LD fiddles with levels.

Sound cues though I would often write in during rehearsals as more often than not I would be operating sound in rehearsals, and quite possibly in performance. Then I would write up a more detailed sound plot during sound plotting and/or tech.

Call cues from the tech rehearsal.

Cheers,
ChaCha
« Last Edit: Oct 20, 2006, 10:52 pm by ChaCha »
ChaCha

smejs

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #10 on: Oct 20, 2006, 08:53 pm »
While I often don't have many specific cues before going into a plotting session, any time I know of ANY potential light cue I write it in my book, especially when we get into the week before tech.  Sometimes it's because the director's said, "We're going to want a special here", or the obvious light shifts at the end of the scene.  If there's something you know ahead of time, might as well go ahead and put it in...especially during a runthrough you probably say out loud "blackout" to the actors/director before you do a scene shift.

Erin

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #11 on: Oct 20, 2006, 10:53 pm »
Oh I'd write in a note about anything the director / LD mentioned on the run in rehearsals and pass it on to the other, but it would just be a scribble not a formal cue entry.
ChaCha

kokobear

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #12 on: Oct 25, 2006, 01:15 am »
If I know that there is a cue going somewhere, I'll generally write it into the book right away.  Especially events that I need to announce in rehearsal, such as "Doorbell", or "Telephone"  (heh, "Pigeon" ::))

My book a slightly shrunken script shifted as far right as I can get it (I'm a lefty).  I use a 6" rule as a straight edge and put all of my cues in the expanded left margin.  I write all my cues on top of the line, always in the same order, if there are multiple events cued at once, Usually LQ___SQ___FX___DECK___.
If the cue is line actuated, I underline and slash up at the specific word.  If it is blocking actuated, I write a little note below the line.

You'll eventually find what works for you, I have yet to meet 2 SM's with more than 1 yrs experience that did it the same way!
« Last Edit: Oct 27, 2006, 07:01 pm by kokobear »

smejs

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #13 on: Oct 25, 2006, 03:57 pm »
Quote
I use a 6' rule as a straight edge and put all of my cues in the expanded left margin.

I hope you mean 6" (inches not feet).  Or else you're a really STRONG stage mgr, who likes to go overkill on straight lines in the script.  Ha.

Erin

kokobear

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Re: Running Tech, etc.
« Reply #14 on: Oct 27, 2006, 06:59 pm »
Touche!

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