Open Rehearsal: The Court Theatre Blog

January 11, 2010

Tech Weekend

by Charlie Newell in 2009/2010 Season, The Year of Magical Thinking

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the most pleasant weekend of tech I’ve experienced in recent memory. So often we’re racing against time to assemble all the moving parts and production elements of a show just so that the thing can stand on its own two feet by the final dress rehearsal. Because of the simple, elegant design of The Year of Magical Thinking, that stress was largely alleviated, allowing Mary Beth and I and the design team the opportunity to spend the weekend honing specific moments in the story.

The design team for this play has been a veritable dream team. We have Jennifer Tipton designing lights, Susan Hilferty designing clothes, my long-time collaborator John Culbert on the set, and Andre Pluess on sound. I’m also working for the first time with Mike Tutaj, who has created a startling and sublime video design for the production. Much of this weekend was given over to orchestrating what we’ve come to call the “magical thinking” moments of the play: moments where the character of Joan slips into a non-rational understanding of the traumatic events surrounding her. Mary Beth has continued to play an important role as co-collaborator, to the point where she often sits in the house to study her own light, sound, and video cues and offer her feedback.

Officially we have three more working days until the first preview, and there’s still much work to be done. Striking the right tone at the opening and the closing of the play are of the utmost importance (“How do we start? How do we end?”) and those are the moments that Mary Beth and I are still fine-tuning. In this show more than most, divinity is all in the details. There’s always the possibility that some of our thinking will completely change when we get our first audience—but that’s a thrill I look forward to with every show!

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