One of my favourite parts of the rehearsal process is the technical rehearsal. This is where the company leaves the safety of the rehearsal room and moves into the theatre. We start at the top of the show and work slowly through to incorporate all the various technical elements (Lights, sound, costume, wigs etc) into the show. This process takes around three days.
I love the tech period because all the pieces of the process begin to knit together. We see the lighting design and the sound design take shape and the play starts to come to life.
There are elements to the show that an audience member might not necessarily notice. For instance, there are several members of the wardrobe and wigs teams who help with dozens of quick changes that take place backstage. Sarah Woodward, who plays multiple roles in the show, has several quick changes - with one in particular having to be completed in twenty seconds where she has a full wig and costume change from a thirty year old MP to a seventy year old wife of an elderly MP. The crispness and precision of the quick changes is as important as any other part of the show, and the teams need time to rehearse them. This is one of many new elements that the actors and crew have to contend with in a very short period of time.
There are well over 200 lighting and sound cues in the show and Laura, our DSM, plays an integral and crucial role in the production. Laura calls the show and coordinates all the technical departments so the look and sound of the show is precisely the same every night. Laura's role is one of the most important parts of any production, but particularly on This House. So the tech rehearsal is as much for her as anyone else.
During the tech the actors really begin to flourish. Incorporating costume, wigs, lighting and sound add to their imaginative journeys and the work from the rehearsal room is consolidated.
Once we reached the end of the play on Wednesday we went back to the top and ran the whole thing again. This time only stopping if something goes completely wrong. Otherwise we keep going. This is the first time everyone sees the whole piece in its entirety. It's an exciting moment. Sometimes there are glaring errors that need fixing, re-teching or re-blocking. Other times there are huge surprises where parts of the play begin to really embed themselves. Thankfully we had a very smooth run. This House lives or dies with the technical precision of the lighting and sound design. The locations in the play are defined by light and if we don't get the language correct from the off, the audience will be confused. As Jeremy said this week - we can only afford to absorb a couple of mistakes before the play begins to unravel.
I can safely say we have the most brilliant team at Chichester who work tirelessly to make sure there are zero mistakes, allowing the full force of James Graham's brilliant play to be shared with the audience.
Speaking of which - our next journey is navigating the relationship with the audience who join us for our first preview on Friday. I'll be talking about that next week.