The Alley Theatre’s production of Satchmo at the Waldorf had its first technical rehearsal (known to theater people as “tech”) last night. I relished every second of it.
Tech is the time when the mysterious magic of stagecraft is polished until it shines as brightly as a spotlight. It’s one of my favorite parts of directing a show. I wrote about this process, an element of playmaking that is unknown to civilians, immediately after finishing tech rehearsals for Palm Beach Dramaworks’ 2016 production of Satchmo:
Nothing drives home the collaborative nature of theater quite like tech, in which the director, design team, and stage crew of a show work hand in hand to build, polish, and rehearse the lighting and sound cues that transform what happened in the rehearsal hall to what will happen in front of an audience.
Tech is a grueling, painstaking, time-consuming process that requires infinite patience. If you’re a naturally impatient person—as I am, I regret to say—it can be tedious in the extreme. But if—as I also am—you’re the kind of person who has a taste for taking infinite pains, then it can be one of the most engrossing and pleasurable experiences that theater has to offer. It’s the Orson Welles part of stage directing: you get to pull out the toy box and spend hours and hours playing with it. You fuss endlessly and productively over every single lighting cue, making one part of the stage dark and another bright, with the lighting designer saying “Do you like it better this way, or this way?” over and over again like a demented ophthalmologist….
Such an enterprise takes time, and plenty of it. We worked on Satchmo from 2:30 to eleven p.m. yesterday and will do the same from noon to midnight today. By the time it’s all over, I’ll be more than ready to fall into bed. But if today’s rehearsal goes as well as did its predecessor, I’ll do so with a broad smile on my face.
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Speaking of Satchmo, today’s Houston Press contains a very nice interview in which I talk about the play and production with Margaret Downing, the editor-in-chief:
The play has been performed in theaters across the country and what makes the Alley production more distinctive is that Teachout was brought in at the last minute to direct thanks to the abrupt withdrawal of director Gordon Edelstein of New York’s Long Wharf Theater who was put on administrative leave at his home theater after sexual misconduct allegations were raised against him and the Alley announced it was replacing him.
But this won’t be a novice at the helm. Teachout was first asked to direct two years ago and says he found out he loved it.
“Palm Beach [Dramaworks] asked me to do it I hadn’t thought about doing it and I got out there and I realized this is fun and I think maybe I’m good at it. So when I got the email from the Alley I thought, ‘Well if I can possibly make this work’—and it was tricky—I’m going to say yes. I can’t pass up this opportunity. And fortunately everything did work.”
Read the whole thing here.