BWW Blog: Tech During Finals
As explained in my last article, I jumped at the opportunity to join the scenic crew of one of UCI's mainstage productions. Three days before tech, I replaced someone who dropped out, and when I looked at the tech schedule, I realized that tech rehearsals began on Friday. My Thanksgiving break lasted about 24 hours, and luckily enough, I live less than an hour from campus, so I was fortunate to be able to go home for Thanksgiving. My friends who lived in Northern California are on the same tech schedule, so they joined my family for Thanksgiving dinner, and when the clock struck 11pm, we packed my car back up and drove to campus for one last night of good sleep before tech. As I drove with my friends, I realized how completely unprepared I felt for the week ahead of me.
Now, several days into tech, the stress of finals is beginning to truly set in. Unlike most other majors, a majority of my drama finals are during the last week of the quarter, not finals week. Sure, I have an extra week of winter break, but now, I am both fully immersed in preparing for a show as well as stressing out about my finals this week. Tech rehearsals are stressful. Finals week is stressful. Both combined are a recipe for disaster. If you ever find yourself in the same predicament as me, I have learned one important lesson this week that allows me to use my down time in rehearsals to prepare for my upcoming finals.
During the first few days of tech, our SM and ASMs allowed the crew to have their laptops and homework backstage during cue-to-cue. The idea was that as long as we weren't missing our cues to set props or help with scene transitions, we were able to work during our down time as the actors and designers worked through the show. I brought my laptop and immediately began working on my performance reviews and journal entries for my acting course, and by the time we got through our first two hours of rehearsals, I had already cranked out all of the writing I had to do for that class. Although it may be tempting to relax, text your friends, or scroll through Instagram, trust me, it's best to just get your work done. If it's nearing finals week, most of the people around you are doing the same thing, and the quiet environment of a backstage area naturally helps foster an environment similar to a study room. If I even think of procrastinating, I remember that I get out of rehearsal at nearly midnight each night, so realistically, I won't even have time to write my papers after rehearsal. If your stage management team allows it, always bring study materials, audition sides, scripts, etc. and memorize those lines, write that performance review, and prepare for your finals.
If your stage management team is a bit more strict and does not allow homework backstage, there are still moments outside of rehearsal that you can find time to get work done. I hate to say it, but your dinner break may be the only times you really get to step out of the theater and work. When I need to memorize lines or work on a monologue on my own, dinner breaks are the only time I may have to myself during the tech process. That is your time, and do with it what you will. If that means using your break to rehearse on your own, that is completely your decision. I have my final scene for my acting class on Thursday, so on my dinner breaks for the rest of the week, I have made it a goal of mine to try and arrive back at the theater ten minutes early to quickly run through my blocking outside for my 10-minute play project. Know what you need in order to feel prepared, and allot the time you have in a way that will make you feel well-equipped for your final performances.
Preparing for both tech and finals is a delicate balance. It is so easy to get wrapped up in one and neglect the other, but I promise, there is a lot more time to prepare for finals during tech than students often realize. Above all else, remember that the people in this theater with you are most likely going through the same stress; be there to support each other. I have high hopes for finishing this quarter off strong, and I am sending positive vibes to everyone in tech or finals this next week. You've got this!