With the preview of The Heretic tonight, director Chris Honer talks about getting a play ready for the public
We’ve been what’s known as ‘teching’ – that’s pronounced ‘tecking’ – for the last couple of days. The technical rehearsal is when every aspect of the show comes together for the first time: actors, lights, costumes, props, etc.
The tech has a particular tension because time is of the essence. We’ve got to have a show ready to put in front of a paying public by 7.15 pm tonight. We need to schedule two dress rehearsals between the end of the Tech and that first performance. We can’t afford to pay lots of overtime if we over-run. And we don’t want staff missing out on their contractual breaks and so on.
But the tech is also the only time that the director, designer, lighting designer, etc. get to play with the full set of toys. So we’re always trying to negotiate between exploring all the possibilities of light and sound to make a particular moment work and the need to get on with it so that we finish on time.
The Heretic isn’t a technically complicated show but all techs throw up their little issues and problems. In our case it was the projector.
There’s a filmed sequence in the play and the ancient Library Theatre Company projector just wasn’t delivering the film with the requisite clarity of image. Moreover it was infecting the picture with a strange greenish light in the bottom left quarter of the screen. A new projector was required. But these beasts are very expensive to hire.
Fortunately our very resourceful Production Manager, Gareth Roberts, has conserved his budget well and had just about enough cash to spare to rent a state-of-the-art machine for the length of the run. Phew!
Otherwise things have been going pretty smoothly. Judith’s set looks great, and the actors already feel at home in it. The handsome kitchen in Diane’s converted barn – and thanks to IKEA for letting us have it at a very reduced price – has already attracted a lot of interest from staff and maybe some post-production offers for anyone wishing to upgrade their home facilities. And Nick has done his usual poetic but discreet job with the lighting.
So we’re all set for a couple of dress rehearsals and the preview. I always look forward to that first time in front of the public with both fear and anticipation. Will they get the play? Will they care about the issues and the characters? And, perhaps most importantly, will they get the jokes?
The Heretic opens tonight at The Lowry. Show information and tickets can be found here.