Technically, it’s "Technical Rehearsal Week," or "Tech Week" for short, but to it’s friends, it’s "Hell Week." It’s the week before the show opens and there is palpable excitement, tension, fear and joy in the air. Imagine a day that you’ve planned for and worried about for months; your graduation, your wedding day, the surprise anniversary party for your parents. Now, imagine living that one day, over and over again. Every day. For a week.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress
You’re starting to get it now!
Tech Week is generally the time between moving into the performance venue and opening night, though arguably it also includes striking the set and load out. Since most locally produced shows only go for a one weekend run, calling load out the last step of Tech Week isn’t that much of a stretch, anyway.
An awful lot happens in these final few days before opening night, and it can seem pretty chaotic. (It can, in fact, actually BE pretty chaotic.) All of the steps have to be touched on, and it’s better if some of them happen in the right order, but time frames are all subject to change depending on the demands of any particular show and the time available for rehearsing in the venue. Some really good shows have been put on with a "tech week" that was really only a few hours long, and some pretty mediocre shows have been put on after well over a week of "tech week."
To help your initial theater experiences seem a little less crazy, here is a nowhere near all-inclusive overview of the steps that the technical crew takes during those hectic days that ultimately lead to the curtain going up.
- Packing Your Theater Bag
- Load In (or Move In) Day
- Tech Rehearsal
- Dress Rehearal(s)
- Strike and Load Out
There. You’ve just survived the most exhilarating, most exhausting thing you’ve done in an awfully long time. You can finally decompress, relax in the evenings, run some errands. Everything is back to normal, right? You have more free time than you know what to do with now that rehearsals are over.