Friday, January 21, 2011

I've heard of "high tech," but what is "piano tech"?

Chief Financial Officer Rauli Garcia goes behind the scenes of this winter’s Dead Man Walking as a supernumerary actor.

Rauli Garcia at right, with Philip Cutlip (center) and HGO Archivist Brian Mitchell at left
We just finished two nights of piano tech, and I'm a little tired. At least I know what piano tech is now. I used to think, what the heck is that?! That is what they call the first nights that we rehearsed on stage in the Brown Theater. It's called a “piano tech,” because there is only a piano instead of an orchestra, accompanying a “technical rehearsal.”

No, this is not "piano tech." But HGO does have its own mobile app.

These rehearsals were really complicated. There are more than a hundred people working on this opera. In addition to the principal singers there are thirty-four people from the mens’ and women’s chorus, twenty-four from the children’s chorus, eighteen supernumerary actors, and three other actors. All were present for these rehearsals. Oh, and I forgot to mention the umpteen people out in the auditorium! Get the picture?! Four stage managers coordinate this entire process—I’m glad I didn’t volunteer to do their job.

On stage, almost thirty IATSE crew members made sure everything on, around, and above the stage did what it was supposed to do (this is why they call it a “technical rehearsal”). There are a lot of moving parts. These were two more nights of stopping, adjusting, and restarting. Watching all the people involved go through this process so smoothly reminded me that I was surrounded by professionals at the top of their field.

So back to not-so-cream of the crop, remember my marching scene that I was nervous about? I'm all set now! Kim let me take home the video of the show from San Francisco. I watched that scene until I got it... about fifteen times. I finally got a feel for the music. Also, HGO Studio Alum Beau Gibson, who plays Father Grenville, now helps tremendously by giving me a quick wink when it's my time to step. Whew! Please don't think that I lack rhythm. I can Salsa, Merengue, or Two-Step with anyone!! This, however, was a bit different. I once read about a man who considered high intelligence as having the ability to differentiate in granular detail. When I started this complex march segment, I was asked to listen to the rhythm, step with my left foot, on the third beat, and on the “give” part of the word “forgive.” Huh? Can somebody “give” me a break?

Those instructions, while easy for anyone with musical talent, were beyond my musical intelligence. At this stage in my musical career, asking me that was like asking a kindergartener how many “o’s” are in hor d'oeuvres. They can hear something like an “o” in there somewhere, but figuring it out is guesswork. Fifteen rehearsals worth of exposure to the music later, and I finally have the ability to hear my mark.

Our next rehearsal is a full run through in costume on the main stage! And I have a costume change …

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