Do you remember who won and Oscar for best sound design? No? I thought so.(Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for American Sniper). But I bet you know exactly who won an Oscar for best male lead (Hint: it wasn’t Leonardo DiCaprio). It was Eddie Redmayne for his role in The Theory of Everything, in case you didn’t already know.
Have you ever seen a play live onstage? If you haven’t then go watch one and then continue reading.
You see all the pretty actors doing all their fancy acting, and occasionally you go, “That was a cool set piece,” before focusing on the actors again. Or you see a person in all black pushing a set piece onto the stage, and then you quickly forget about it as the actors start in on a gorgeous 5-part harmony.
I suppose that is how it is supposed to be, but since I am a backstage person, I feel like us techs deserve a bit more credit than most audiences are giving us. Or as I like to put it…
Have you ever sat down and thought about all the work that goes into a play? First, the director has to cast his or her characters and choose her technical crew. She picks an assistant director and a technical director. The technical director coordinates the designers, builders, operators, and other techs who design the sets, sound, costumes, lights, props, makeup, etc. Then, they rehearse. The actors memorize their lines and the techs memorize their cues. They coordinate over the course of months, even years, to make sure that the show runs seamlessly.
They come to the theater hours before each show starts to prepare for the show. They preset props and sets, get the actors dressed and made up, run a sound and lights check, then go over their cues one last time as the audience files in.
All of this hard work, and the only credit they get is their names printed in a font 2 points smaller than the actors’ names in the playbill.
As a sound tech, I would just like to vent about my struggles for a second.
- Jane’s mic “wasn’t working” during our run through. Correction, directors: her mic was working perfectly, and it would have continued to do so had she thought to TURN IT ON.
- Bob can’t sing. Not even a little bit. Bob, the mics aren’t “messing up” your “higher octaves”, you just don’t have any higher octaves. Not even a little bit.
- “That sound effect isn’t quite what we were hoping for…” Well, honey, this sound effect is all I’ve got. If you want your magical rainbow sparkles scene change music after Alice opens the doors to the Wonderland garden, then this is all I’ve got to give you. And if you ask me, this sounds exactly like magical rainbow sparkles. Maybe even with a hint of unicorn bubbles in candy land.
- Joey forgot to give me his mic pack after the show. He left it in the pocket of his costume. On the costume rack. Buried deep within the darkest depths of the costume shop, pressed between the hundreds of other costumes that reek of sweat and long-forgotten attempts at deodorant usage. I informed the directors of his thoughtlessness, and they promised to have a talk with him about it. The next show, it happened again.
- “You played the phone ringing sound effect too quietly, so make it louder next time.” Next time, I play it just a touch louder. “That phone sound effect was so loud that it made a baby cry, so play it softer next time.”
Do you see now what we techs have to put up with? All the toils and struggles… and none of the credit.
Aaaanyways, I found this INCREDIBLE BLOG that has really funny comics about the lives of techs and directors. These comics are the single most acurate and hilariously descriptive things I have ever seen and you should check it out! Also, in case you didn’t see it on the home page, we now have a Twitter! Our name is “Think Splinter”, because “Things People Don’t Usually Think About” wouldn’t fit.
Thanks for reading, and remember Techs are People Too!
Catcha later alligators,