The long and winding road to Edinburgh has been travelled and we have finally reached the festival itself. We have arrived at our destination after a lengthy train journey, our set has arrived at its destination after an even lengthier van journey and it is time to tech the show. But Edinburgh being Edinburgh, the luxury of a full day’s tech is not an option. Most shows are given four hours in their space to plot lights, check sound, rehearse the daily get-in and get-out and, if you’re ambitious, run the show. This is the only time you will have in the space before your first performance, so use it wisely. I have never experienced a tech in Edinburgh that has run completely smoothly or achieved everything I wanted it to, and walking home from a long day of techs this week, I started to wonder, is it possible to tech on a ticking time-bomb?
We turned up to our tech fairly relaxed. Having already performed the show four times, in two different venues, we felt confident that all would run smoothly. We were wrong. The first hour in the space was the definition of the calm before the storm. Nonchalantly untangling fishing wire and testing the acoustics of the space, we whiled away a solid hour very happily – oblivious to the chaos that was about to hit. Then quickly everything changed. The projector was in the wrong place and immovable, the lights needed to be refocussed and we couldn’t rig our set. Suddenly my plentiful four hours seemed as though it had been four minutes. How had it been so easy at our previous venues? Well we had a lot more than four hours…
To be fair, the show I am referring to is fairly technically challenging. However, I have never experienced a technical rehearsal in Edinburgh that doesn’t end with the company running around the theatre like a bomb is about to be detonated. We are used to working under pressure but the awareness that you have four hours to set up a show as it will be for a month is quite extreme.
So what is the solution? Well, there isn’t one. With the sheer volume of shows that there is in each space during the Festival, it would be impossible for venues to offer any more time for companies to tech. We’ve just got to grin and bear it – plan the time in advance, be prepared to stray far from your plan, don’t panic, and just hope the you make it out alive before the bomb explodes.