Musical theatre workshops and productions

Questions from NYMF

Back to my regular blog now that, NYMF is over.

Lighting technician for large cast production of NUMBERS NERDS

Since we had two different productions of Numbers Nerds open in two different weeks (the six-person version in New York and the twenty-five person version in Oak Park, Illinois), I thought it would be helpful if I shared some of the questions that came up during this process.  So, here goes.

Why is that guy wearing a wrench tied to his jean loopholes? – During the tech rehearsal for the large cast version one of the lighting technicians was walking through the house and someone asked me that question.  Lighting technicians use a wrench to move and adjust lighting instruments.  Mostly these lighting instruments are in a very high position – either in a cove above or on the sides of the theatre.  They secure the wrench to their jeans with a rope of some kind so that if they drop the wrench it does not come crashing down on anyone below (or hit another lighting instrument ruining the focus that was just set.)

What is an A1 and A2?  Audio technicians are referred to as A1 and A2s. It stands for Audio- staff 1 and Audio – staff 2.  Usually the A1 mixes the sound and the A2 places the microphones on the actors.  What does mixing mean?  When you go to your next musical, you will probably see – often at the back of the theatre or sometimes on the side — a technician working in front of a huge computer system with a lot of dials and levers.  That is the control panel for the person who controls the sound of the show.  She controls the microphones of the actors (both in their hair and microphones that happen to be on the stage) and the microphones of the band.  She “mixes” the sound so that the band does not overpower the actors and vice versa. (Shout out to Garrett who was our A1 at NYMF – magnificent job.)  This control panel has to be right out in the theatre, so that the tech is actually hearing what the audience is hearing.

A1 – Garrett – for NYMF

During tech rehearsal why is the light board in the house and not in the booth?  During the beginning of tech rehearsal – when the technical elements come together in a musical before the show opens – the lighting designer and the director work together to create and finalize the lighting design. Sometimes this process starts with the director giving the lighting designer “moments” outlined in the script.  She finds places in the script where lighting “moments” or changes in lighting should happen.  Then the lighting designer uses that as the basis for a design.  The light board is usually put in the audience during tech rehearsals so that there can be an open conversation involving the stage manager, director, lighting designer and their associates, while levels, colors and cues are being set.  After the tech rehearsal, all those final settings are saved to the computer.  From that point on, the tech does nothing except hit a button to activate the cue.  So for the performance, the light board goes back into the booth and the audience does not see it.

More questions coming up next.   Cool stuff, ha?

Larry Little

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