Bits and Pieces
Written by Our Theatre Critique
In is down, down is front,
out is up, up is back,
off is out, on is in,
and of course –
right is left, and left is right.
A drop shouldn’t and a
block and fall does neither.
A prop doesn’t and
a cove has no water.
Tripping is O.K.
A running crew rarely gets anywhere.
A purchase line will buy you nothing.
A trap will not catch anything.
A gridiron has nothing to do with football.
A Strike is work
(in fact a lot of work).
And a green room, thank God, usually isn’t.
Now that you are fully versed in theatrical terms,
Break a leg…
but not really!
THE WORD ACCORDING TO TECHIES
GENESIS — In the beginning there was the Stage, and the Stage was without lights or sets, and darkness was on the faces of the actors. And the Director said, “Let there be Lights!” and the TECHIES worked and wired, and there were lights. Spotlights and specials, areas and backlighting — yea, lights of all shapes, sizes, and hues. And the Director saw the lights, that they were well aimed and focused, gelled according to the scene, and no more was there darkness of the faces of the actors. And it was good. And the evening and morning were the First Day.
And the Director looked upon the actors and saw that although they walked in light, they did walk upon a bare stage, and had no place to be, and the Director was moved to pity and the Director said, “Let there be a set!”; and the TECHIES scrambled and worked, and there was a set, with platforms, wagons, stairs, and furniture of various types and sizes according to the need, and the actors did walk within the set, and did have a place to be, and the Director saw the set, that it was good, and the evening and the morning were the Second Day.
And the Director saw the actors, that although they did have a place to be, they did look like fools for they waved their hands, clutched at open air, and struck each other with nothing. And in his heart, the Director was moved to pity, and the Director said, “Let there be Props!”; and the TECHIES worked feverishly and did buy and build, and there were props. And they were good and the evening and the morning were the Third Day.
And the Costumer looked upon the actors, and saw that they did go forth in blue jeans and the Costumer knew that this would not do. And the Costumer said, “Let there be Costumes!”; and the TECHIES did cut and sew and shape and there were costumes, each sized to the actor, according to the play, and keeping in with the role. And no more did the actors go forth in blue jeans and the Costumer saw the costumes, that they were good and evening and the morning were the Fourth Day.
And the Director watched the play and saw that the actors did wait in silence, and was moved to pity, and the Director said, “Let there be Sound!”; and the TECHIES found sounds and and put them in place and cue, all at the proper levels. And the Director heard the sounds, that they were good, and the evening and the morning were the Fifth Day. And lo, all these works were completed in five days, showing that if God had used sufficient TECHIES in the first place, He would have finished sooner.
PROVERBS — Behold, my son, here is wisdom. Pay heed to these words, and in the days of thy play, in the hours of thy performing, thou shalt not be caught short. For truly, it is said, pay heed to the errors of others and you shall not make them yourself, and again, as we have been told from on old, to thine own self be true.
I. Give not unto the actor his props before his time, for as surely as the sun does rise in the East and sets in the West, he will lose or break them.
II. When told the placement of props by the Director, write not these things in ink upon thy script for as surely as the winds blow, so shall she change her mind.
III. Speak not in large words to actors, for they are slow of thought and are easily confused.
IV. Speak not in the language of the TECHIE to actors, for they are uninitiated, and will not perceive thy meaning.
V. Tap not the head of a nail to drive it, but strike it firmly with thy strength, or use a screw instead.
VI. Keep holy the first performance, for afterwards you shall party.
VII. Keep holy the last performance, for afterwards you shall party.
VIII. Remember always that the Director is never wrong. If it appears that she is, then you obviously misunderstood her the first time.
IX. Leave not the area of the of the stage during the play to go and talk with the actors, for as surely as you do, you will be in danger of missing your cue and being summarily executed or worse.
X. Beware of actors when flying in walls, for they will stand and watch and get crushed.
XI. Beware of actors during scene changes, for they are not like unto you and are blind in the dark.
XII. Take not thy cues before their time, but wait for the proper moment to do so.
XIII. Take pity on the actors, for in their roles they are as children, and must be led with gentle kindness. Thus, endeavor to speak softly and not in anger.
XIV. Listen carefully to the instructions of the Director as to how she wants things done — then do it the right way. In the days of thy work, she will see thy wisdom, give herself the credit, and rejoice.
XV. And above all, get carried away not with the glow-tape or thy stage will be like unto an airport.
WORD TO THE TECHIES
Remember always that thou art a TECHIE, born to walk the dark places of the stage, and know the secret ways of thy equipment. To your hands it is given to mold the dreams and thoughts of they that watch and to make thy Stage a separate place and time. Seek not, as do the actors, to go forth in light upon the stage, for though they strut and talk and put on airs, their craft does truly depend on you, to shape the dreams that they would show. Remember also that although they depend on you, you exist only to aid them. Remember that thou art a team.
My friends, be not deceived by deluded actors masquerading as TECHIES. Remember always the signs with which thou shalt recognize a true TECHIE: they move softly during scene changes, not stumbling or falling; they are silent backstage and are aware of what is happening; they can speak with knowledge of Tools; they respect another’s job and aid where they can; they do not just stand and watch.
You know you work in non-profit theatre if…
….your living room sofa spends more time on stage than you do.
….you have your own secret family recipe for stage blood.
….everyone on staff has worked on more than three other shows with you over the last two seasons and not one of them know each other.
….you’ve ever appeared on stage wearing your own clothes.
….you’ve ever driven around the back of stores looking for discards that can be used for set pieces.
….you can find a prop in the prop room that hasn’t seen the light of day in ten years, but you don’t know where your own vacuum cleaner is.
….you’ve ever appeared in or worked on any show written by Van Zandt and Milmore.
….you have a Frequent Shopper Card at the Salvation Army.
….Rogers and Hamerstiens is synomous with 3 months of rehearsals.
….you start buying your work clothes at Goodwill so you can buy your costumes at the mall.
….you’ve ever taken time off your job to work on the show.
….you’ve worked your vacation time to coincide with techweek.
….you’ve ever cleaned a tuxedo with a magic marker.
….your family is more than 50% of the staff
….you’ve ever appeared on stage in an outfit held together with hot glue.
….you name your son Samuel and tell him that his middle name is in honor of the French side of the family.
….you’ve ever appeared in a show where tech week is devoted to getting the running time under four and a half hours.
….you’ve ever appeared on stage in an English drawing room murder mystery where half the cast spoke with southern accents.
….you think Neil Simon is a misunderstood genius.
….you’ve ever appeared in a show where the cast out-numbered the audience 2 to 1.
….you’ve ever gotten a part because you were the only one who showed up for auditions.
….you’ve ever gotten a part because you were the only Male who showed up for auditions.
….the audience recognizes you the minute you walk on stage because they saw you taking out the trash before the show.
….you’ve ever menaced/threatened anyone with a gun held together with electrical tape.
….you’ve ever had to haul a sofa off stage between scenes wearing an evening gown and heels.
….you’ve ever had to haul a sofa off stage between scenes wearing an evening gown and heels — and you’re a guy.
….you’ve ever played the father of someone your father’s age.
….your kids know your rehearsal schedule better than you do.
….your kids know your lines better than you do.
….your kids deliver your lines better than you do.
….you get home from rehearsal and have to go back to the theatre because you forgot your kids.
….you’ve ever appeared in a show where an actor leaned out through a window without opening it first.
….you actually know the difference between Good Shakespeare and BAD Shakespeare, and have tried to explain the difference.
….you’ve ever had to play a drunk scene opposite someone who was really drunk.
….you’ve ever heard a director say “Try not to bump into the furniture” and mean it.
….the lead vocalist complains that the music keeps changing tempos, but the fact is the music is on a tape/cd
….you’ve ever appeared on stage with people you’re related to.
….you’ve ever heard the head of the set construction crew say “Just paint it black — no one will ever see it.”
….you’ve appeared in a show featuring a flushing toilet sound effect.
….the set designer has ever told you not to walk on the left half of the stage because the floor’s still wet — five minutes before curtain.
….you’ve ever been told that the reason your director has no eyebrows is because he/she handled special effects for the last show.
….you’ve ever said “Don’t worry — use the duct tape and if that doesn’t work we’ll just hot glue it.”
Signs You’ve Been in the Theatre Too Much
Your weekend consists of Monday, and only Monday.
You know more than one theory for the origin of the name “green room.”
You can only read from a light that is blue.
You consider the red part of the stoplight the “standby.”
You can’t remember what daylight looks like.
You feel naked without your keys attached to your belt loop, or your belt without your Maglite, Leatherman, and Gerber.
You know tie-line has several uses—shoelaces, belts, ponytail holders…
95% of your wardrobe is black.
You watch the Super Bowl, waiting for intermission, not half-time.
You tell more stories of what went wrong on shows you’ve done than what went smoothly.
You start wondering what it feels like to be a prop.
You know anything can be fixed with gaff tape, Mortite, sculpt-er-coat, a sharpie, tie-line, and a safety pin.
Your diet consists of fast food or microwaved food.
Your Halloween costume in some way utilizes running blacks and gaff tape.
Varying your diet means ordering the #2 instead of the #3 or eating with your left hand instead of your right.
You insist on spelling “theatre” with an “re” not an “er”.
People recognize you by the sound of your keys jingling down the hallway.
Going to a restaurant means ordering and sitting down in McDonald’s rather than the drive-thru.
“Practical,” “Drop,” and “flat” are nouns.
Instead of saying that you’re leaving, you say you’re “exiting.”
At home, you “strike” your dishes to the kitchen.
If someone asks you what time it is, you respond with something like, “Half hour ’til half hour.”
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 October 2006 )