This semester has been quite the busy one, though it might be hard to find someone who won’t relate to that statement. Midterms ending some weeks ago, fall break on the horizon but just out of reach; it can be a time of wanting a rest from what just was, but not being able to have that rest just yet. For myself, a piece of that business has been occupied by the recent showing of HTAC’s Shrek the Musical and the Tech Week preceding it. 

For the unaware, Tech Week for a theatre company is the week before opening night where all hands are on deck with daily rehearsals and constant work to improve upon performance and technical aspects, which in my case included creating or improving the show’s props and finding places for them backstage. Over the course of the week I realized that the sort of shifting emotions and work relate to the way they similarly shift throughout the academic semester, and each day has a way to be summarized and has something that can be learned from it. With that said, here are some lessons I learned from each day of Tech Week.

Day 1 – Move-in

Move-in is the first official day of Tech: the day where we really kick things off and spend time getting everything as set up as possible while focusing on technical aspects as opposed to performance ones. To me, this reflects the first week or so of the semester, like getting used to the new schedule and days where class may be focused on syllabi and other minutiae, but overall it can be fun! This being my first HTAC production and first taste of theatre in years, this was a great experience and reminded me how much I missed having theatre. The first weeks of the semester are similar; classes may be expected, and you get to reconnect with friends you may not have seen throughout the break. It’s a nice time to settle into the swing of things, and is a time that should be appreciated.

Day 2 – The Real Start of Things

Day 2 was when things really shifted into gear – not as many hands to help out since half of those around are understandably focused on their own work, but nothing too stressful or blindsiding has happened yet. This reflects the first “normal” weeks of the semester with assignments in swing, and in the case of the fall semester is often the first full week of classes. While there may be some stress, more often than not it’s an expected kind that one is prepared for. Not everything has been done, but you’re sure you can do it and you’ll feel fulfilled when it comes to an eventual close.

Day 3 – The Dip

The 3rd day of Tech week was where things escalated for me, spending most of it on one particular prop within the show – the dragon head. Some problem-solving needed to be done with the supports we added, and there were bumps along the way (like a gust of wind knocking it over!) that felt major in the moment. Day 5 was the day everything needed to be ready, and the closeness of that date felt stressful. Looking back on it, I can understand why I felt stressed in the moment; however, all would turn out all right and if I could go back to myself in those moments I’d reassure myself of that. This can be similar to the season of midterms and big projects where it feels like there are roadblocks in the way, cramming to get things done, or worrying that you don’t have enough time. Rest assured that all of that is possible even though it may not feel like it, and that the finished product will be worth it in the end.

Day 4 – The Rise

With the dragon’s head completed, Day 4 was when I could focus on the wings and other miscellaneous props. Thanks to the help of others putting various props together, I was able to devote my time first and foremost to the dragon wings, getting them done by the time they were needed for rehearsal. I walked out into the audience moments before the dragon props hit the stage for the first time, and I felt such a feeling of accomplishment and pure joy seeing those pieces accompanying the wonderful choreography and vocals. The final props were finished, and my worries were on fixing up anything that was already done and setting things in their place. If I can take anything from this day, it’s that feeling I previously described after seeing the final dragon product – all worked out in the end and it felt so worthwhile.

Day 5 – 24 Hours Remain

With all the props complete, this day was a bit of a break between the previous work of Tech and the upcoming opening of the show. While I still had things to do, it was soon time for everything to come to a close in a bittersweet sort of way.

The experiences of Tech Week were a rollercoaster much like the semester, but in the end all of the work put into it was fruitful and I wouldn’t trade that fulfilling feeling for anything else.

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