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26 April, 2018

What is a Technical Rehearsal?

Putting on a play takes passion, organisation and plenty of cups of coffee to get the show pitch perfect for opening night.

The most time consuming aspect of prepping a play for an audience is the rehearsal process, from the read-throughs at the very beginning of the production to the dress rehearsal before opening night.

One type of rehearsal that can last for days is a technical rehearsal, which takes place before the dress rehearsal. 

Auckland Live Head of Technical, Kerry Griffiths, has taken part in more technical or ‘tech’ rehearsals than he can remember. 

He says unlike other rehearsals which focus on the artistic elements of the performance, a tech rehearsal concentrates solely on the technical aspects of the production.

Running through the full play, Kerry says the rehearsal checks that the lighting design matches the staged blocking (e.g. that a spotlight hits the right performer), and that the performers’ microphones are at the correct levels and their voices are compatible with any sound or music.

It also lets the performers know when there are things like incoming flying rigs; often introduces the production’s props; checks cues, timings and continuity, and generally makes sure the director and designers are happy with all aspects of the production.

Normally about twice as long as the performance, Kerry says tech rehearsals can also be quite quick if just the start and end of technical sequences are rehearsed. 

A highly technical performance, on the other hand, can last for several days. 

Kerry’s a stickler for tech rehearsals as they can avert potential disasters during a performance. 

He remembers one where opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa came on stage in the wrong costume. Everything was stopped while she went backstage and changed, no doubt thanking the theatre gods for the tech rehearsal!