Native Gardens: From Tech to Previews…
Tania: Not yet. But it can be.
(Scene One, Native Gardens)
Tech! One of my favorite parts of this process.. Makeup, costumes, lights, sound… All of the elements come together to create our world of Native Gardens at The Cincinnati Playhouse. It takes many hours, lots of repetition, communication and fine tuning.
What makes or breaks the time it takes to tech a theatrical production is the team behind the scenes. The director, the stage manager, the designers, the technicians, the dressers, the stagehands… So much communication needs to happen before we, the actors, even set foot on stage. We are blessed with a most joyous and talented crew. They have created a beautiful, safe, functioning work space for us to play.
We’ve focused a lot on entrances and exits, along with transitions between scenes. Making sure we have the exact amount, and specific type of music we need, sharpening the silent and physical gestures that seam together each scene to continue the storytelling. The lights are focused to help convey time and place and we choreograph all of our costume changes between scenes. All of this in preparation to add the last element of our world, the audience…Virginia: Well, I can’t tell you how happy we are to finally have real homeowners living next door…
(Native Gardens, Scene Two)
Our first introduction to a live audience is to have 4 preview performances before opening night. These shows allow us to gauge our progress, feel what jokes might land, and what experiences the audience tends to react to. Or not. The playwright is able to make adjustments and rewrites according to what we learn and the director can give us feedback on what we need to do to sharpen our delivery and execution of our respective roles.
For the first preview, on Saturday, I was amped up on adrenaline for, pretty much, the entire show. We had cancelled our final invited dress, that would have given us an initial audience before previews, because of snowstorm named Jonas. So our first preview was quite a rush. A few lines were dropped, skipped and paraphrased but overall we completed the journey and gave that first audience a great show.
Sunday afternoon we settled into our pace with a little more confidence. It was a quieter, smaller audience which helped us recognize the consistent moments and challenged us to keep momentum and action going forward.
We have two more previews before we officially open this World-Premiere play by Karen Zacharias, on Thursday January 28th. We will continue to rehearse to ensure that we have sculpted all the moments we need to give this story the best possible telling.
We then get to think about what to wear for our opening night party and breathe a sigh of relief that we are up and running after an amazing few weeks of table work, rehearsal, tech and previews. Then we are off to the races running shows through February 21st!
Personally, I am counting the minutes until I get to drive to the airport Thursday morning to pick up my love, Miles Gaston Villanueva, who is making the trip out here for Opening Night!
The anticipation is palpable…