Opening night is magical. Everyone is excited and nervous and full of energy. Everything comes together with a heightened sense of urgency, and it becomes something more than what it's been at rehearsals. Last night was an incredible night. The cast was excited and determined to put on a great show, and I was surprised to walk into the dressing room and find everyone studying their lines. There was a lot of messing around, too, but that's the best part. Hanging out with the cast before the show is so much fun.
The performance was incredible. Everyone did great. The audience laughed and responded really well to the show. They cheered when the elves danced the "Jingle Bell". It was everything I love about live theatre. There is nothing like the rush of a good opening night.
Before the show I took a moment and went out on the stage behind the curtain. No one else was on stage, and I listened to the audience. I just stood there and took it in. There is that moment in every show when you have to let it go. It's not my show anymore. It belongs to the cast, and my job is done. I felt completely okay with that last night. I knew everyone was ready, and I knew the show would be great. I think being alone backstage with the murmur of voices on the other side of the curtain is a magical place. It's like being between two worlds. That's why I love theatre.
I also love theatre people. I've been really lucky this year. I've worked on some great shows, and I have met some great new theatre friends. I got to see some of my "Cabaret family" last night, and it was great. I really respect their talent, and I was very excited that they enjoyed the show. My kids were excited, too. They got to see their acting hero last night. So cute.
I'm really excited for the show tonight, but it's bittersweet. Two performances doesn't seem like enough, and I'll be sad to see the show end. It's been a lot of fun. On to the next project, but first one more night of Christmas magic.
Today is the last dress rehearsal for Greedy Greta Visits Christmas Town. I love this show. We had our first dress last night with lights, sound, costumes, and props. It was great. Things didn't go perfectly, but I didn't expect them to. That's the whole purpose of rehearsal. Figure out the problems and fix them before opening night.
I'm very excited to have people see this show. I put it on once before with my middle school students, and it was really good. Now, we have a bigger cast, a budget, and appropriately aged actors for every part. I'm really grateful for my cast. They're all talented and hard working, and hopefully they are enjoying the show as much as I am. They're going to be amazing.
My tech people are amazing, too. It looks and sounds fantastic. I couldn't ask for a better team. They've all worked really hard, and it is so nice to be able to delegate tasks and trust that everyone is going to get it done. Makes my job a lot less stressful.
This show makes me happy. I hope it makes the audience happy, too.
Tech rehearsals can be productive, or they can be a stressful nightmare. Here are five ways to keep things under control.
As the director, you are in charge, and it is up to you to keep things moving. That is stressful, but if you focus on the stress, you're going to bring it into tech with you. Stay calm. Pause and take a breath before making any decision. Take a moment to breathe when things start piling up. This is easier said than done, but if you can take a moment to be conscious of your breathing, you'll stay relaxed in the most stressful situations.
2. Be Prepared For Things To Go Wrong.
Because they are going to. That's what tech is for. Working out the kinks and getting everybody on the same page. Try to foresee problems and have a plan to fix them. There will, of course, be unexpected problems. Accept it and do what you can to prepare.
3. Trust Your Team.
I had a tech rehearsal yesterday, and it went surprisingly smoothly. I made it the day when everything had to be done. This meant set, lights, sound, and costumes were all being done at the same time. I put trust in my team to get their part done and check in with me occasionally. Everything got done, with relatively few issues, and we finished on time.
4. Have A Plan (But Be Flexible).
Knowing that I would be working on four things at once, I went into tech with a plan. I didn't make it very specific because I knew it would change based on how things went with each part. I decided on what my main focuses would be, planned to address the known problems first, then spent most of my time on set changes while making time to answer questions from sound, lights, and costumes. My goal was to not make anyone wait for me for more than a few minutes. By taking a few minutes away from set changes, I kept everyone else moving and showed every aspect of the show equal respect.
5. Have Fun.
Any stressful situation is handled better with laughter. Getting angry or stressed compounds the problem and spreads to those around you. Try to find the humor in any situation. Laugh at the absurdity of the problem (because it will be absurd) and get to work fixing it.
Em is a writer, theatre director, and hiker. She likes mixing horror with magical realism and adding sci-fi twist.