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By Brian Robin

Getting Technical During Tech Week

This is Tech Week for Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical. Tech Week takes place the week before previews when all of the technical elements—costumes, lights, set, sound, props—are incorporated into the actors’ performance for the first time.

The main purpose of Tech Week is for actors to rehearse with all the technical elements in place. It’s also to troubleshoot any issues that may arise, from an ill-fitting costume to a broken prop, an incorrectly focused light or set malfunction.

We caught up with Assistant Props Supervisor Madi Joseph to learn what the Props Department’s duties are during Tech Week.

“During Tech Week, we are troubleshooting props and furniture with the actors, director and scenic designer. Because Tech Week is the first time every production element is being utilized at the same time, some props end up not serving the show as intended,” she said. “Fixes can be as easy as painting something a different color to work with the lighting design better, or as complicated as rebuilding a piece of furniture to accommodate a costume piece.”

Joseph said Tech Week gives the Prop Department its first opportunity to work with the backstage crew. This is key, because Joseph said the Prop Department can help solve any issues that arise during scene changes and can work with the backstage crew to find the best way to store props on- and off-stage.

Typically, tech rehearsals for Props run about four days. They start three hours before rehearsals begin, spending that time completing notes compiled from the previous day’s rehearsal.

“Since we can’t work on stage while the actors are rehearsing, we complete anything that needs to be done on stage first—painting furniture, switching out set dressings, installing drapery,” Joseph said. “Then, we move to notes that don’t need to happen onstage—pulling different props from storage, altering soft goods and fixing broken hand props.”

Next, we checked in with Production Stage Manager Talia Krispel to see what Tech Week is like for her. Krispel is the driving force for Tech Week rehearsals. She works hand-in-hand with the director and designers to facilitate and collect all cues for the show.

“Tech Week is the stage manager’s time to learn their version of the show—when and where to call cues,” Krispel said. “How stage managers prepare for Tech Week is personal and specific to each individual.”

Tech Week time demands vary from show to show. For Prelude to a Kiss, The Musical, Krispel said they will put in 49 hours over six days before the show goes live to the public. But regardless of the show, one constant remains.

“Adding in all the elements—sound, lights, costumes, orchestra—has its challenges, but more often than not, we’re able to predict them,” Krispel said. “The truly challenging thing is the unknown—the elements/moments we can’t predict while working in the rehearsal room.”

About the author

South Coast Repertory

South Coast Repertory is a Tony Award-winning theatre is known for producing classics, contemporary hits and world premieres, for having the largest new-play development program in the nation and for advancing the art of theatre in service to the community. 

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