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Napoleon Disrobed: Tech and Previews

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We left the rehearsal room in London after our final run on Friday afternoon excited to get to Plymouth. On Monday the production team arrived in Plymouth to set up the space, ready to start tech on Tuesday with the rest of the Idiots. The stage was in, props were set, Qlab was loaded, lights were rigged and focused- we were ready to go.

On Tuesday morning we began tech, armed with plenty of coffee and snacks. I always think that the first tech session seems to move forward slower than the following sessions. There is a lot that comes with being out of the rehearsal room and in the theatre space- the set moves differently, the space feels different, new elements are introduced and you are working with sound and lighting that may not have been there previously. But as the day goes on you pick up the pace and all fall into a rhythm together, figuring out the best way to work through Tech.

Throughout the Tech, the script is divided into tech sessions so you all have a goal to get to by the end of each session. On the whole, we stayed on track, however dividing up the script into sessions isn’t an exact science. When the show is still developing, you can’t predict how long some sections/ scenes/ transitions will take to tech. Some of these sections may have been impossible to fully figure out in the rehearsal room and so this is the first time you are all looking at them properly. The sections you may have predicted would take a while to figure out in tech in fact only take 20 minutes. Whereas ‘small’ moments you thought you would breeze through take an hour or so to discuss and devise before you reach a version you are happy with and move forward. During these moments, you keep frantically looking at your watch thinking “we’re not going to finish!!”- but you know that this discussion has to happen and the idea needs to be played with in order to reach a decision.

Tech complete…it’s time for our first Preview! As scary as first previews are, I think the whole team was ready to introduce the final piece of the puzzle – the audience! It was a fantastic opening night and it was great to see audience reactions to the show. Since our first preview we continued to work on the show the following day before the preview that night, and it has come a long way even from the version we finished tech with. It has been exciting (if a little mind melting) to see the show continue to develop.

This is my first time working with Told by an Idiot and I have learned a lot over the rehearsal period, tech and previews about what it means to be an ‘Idiot’. It has been fantastic to be part of such an open and playful process, one that is truly collaborative and encourages everyone to try ideas (however crazy they may be!). With TBAI, this does not stop when the show goes into tech. There is no finished ‘product’ that is locked down before tech, the devising and rehearsal process continued throughout tech and previews. Through this, I believe we have created a show that is truly different every night and is a product of whole team making offers and playing with ideas together.

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