The Tech-ing Project

Moment: An Introduction

From April 1, 2011 to April 3, 2011, the Laramie Project Company at Duke University ran tech for its upcoming production. The following comes from interviews with Manny Hidalgo, an assistant stage manager for the show.

Well, what Laramie was like during tech…. well, I’d never seen anything like it. With over 200 light cues for a play set in stadium seating, it was sure to be a nightmare.

Now, tech weekend for me started off with learning how to operate the snow for Moment: Snow.

Moment: The Higher Spirit

Manny Hidalgo:

I remember, being kinda excited for this part. Of all of my duties for the show, this was certainly one of the more exciting ones. I would be, as the character Tiffany Edwards said, the “higher spirit… that blows storms.” In fact, I even jokingly demanded that the cast refer to me as such for the rest of the show, to which Director Jeff Storer said, “Let it be so.”

But, yeah, I followed Stage Manager Don Tucker up to the catwalks where we were met by Dave Berberian of the Scene Shop. I looked down at the stage below and became a little nauseous.

Now, I do not have a fear of height – I really don’t – but, still, something about peering over the rail – realizing how easy it’d be for me to slip under it and splat on the ground below – well, it was a little nauseating.

Anyway, Dave went through the operating of the snow. It was really amazing, actually. Six barrels in a line, flaps to fill each with snow, and holes for the snow to trickle out of. To cap it off, there was a pulley system both to shake out snow and to lower to entire apparatus to the ground below to be filled.

After Dave’s tutorial, I experimented with it myself, overlooking Jeff as he walk through the veil of snow I was creating.

Moment: That Day

Later that that day was a tech without actors. Manny told us that he actually was not required to be there for the rest of the day. He was to be on-call, but as he had already finished his hours in the scene shop, the rest of the day was to be an almost break for him. Nevertheless, Manny came back at 3 to walk with the other volunteers until tech ended around 10, unable to escape to pull of Laramie.

Moment: M-O-R-A-L-E

The next two days encompassed a full tech with the actors and the actual costumes they’ll be using. Here’s Manny Hidalgo:

At first I was optimistic that we’d meet Jeff’s ambitious goal of getting a complete run-through in each day. But as we got into it, it became clear that this was certainly… ambitious. Yeah, that the word I’d use to describe it.

One of our actresses was sick on Saturday, so her parts were being read by Naomi. She did her best, and, bless her, did not equivocate at all. She scurried from her normal place to Emma’s place with due diligence. But it certainly presented a challenge for anyone who play a role in setting up Emma’s characters.

Some things that did not get ironed out on Friday were left to Saturday, and by the time it was all said and done, we’d only got to the moment before the end of Act II.

Sunday was the second day of tech.

Maybe it was my imagination, but everyone seemed kind of demoralized on Sunday. I don’t know if people had personal issue going on, or if the monotony of tech was getting to them. Then again, it could have just been my imagination. Again, our objective was to finish through the first run of tech, and squeeze in another full run. I sighed to myself, as my own optimism had completely eroded.

Nevertheless, the Company went straight to work. Emma’s return to our mist certainly aided, and we managed to finish the first run just before 3. Expressions of relief were on everyone face as we adjourned for a break.

It seemed that moral was up again after having done a full run. With our remaining three hours, we would return to the stage to attempt a second. With everyone’s hopes up, we plowed right through the whole play! We even manage to come damn close to our intended two hours and forty minutes goal for the show.

Moment: Gettin’ Moved On

Today we begin our dress rehearsals. Considering how well things went this weekend, I’m sure everything will go off without a hitch. It’s time for us to get moved on – on with the show that is. Opening’s on Thursday, and we have three days of dress to work out the remain kinks.

But for me, I’ll be at Shaefer at 6pm, getting ready to make it snow in Duke’s Laramie.

2 thoughts on “The Tech-ing Project

  1. Manny —

    This is terrific. I’m sitting here with such a grin on my face since you decided to write in the voice of the show. It’s a wonderful way to interview yourself. Not to mention the lines you’ve inserted. My particular favorites — “she did not equivocate” and “time for us to get moved on”. Your snow is magnificent. I agree that you should be addressed as the “higher spirit … that blows storms”. Considering where you’re standing and what you’re up to in that catwalk such a title isn’t blasphemous as much as literally true! : )

    You all hear it many times from Jeff at the end of each night’s rehearsal, but I just want to chime in with our gratitude at the impeccable performance of the stage management crew. There is no doubt that the show would not go on without you. I hope you all feel as if you’re getting to put a bit of your creative stamp on things (particularly the camera work) in performance. I don’t know what was ultimately decided about the on-stage vigil. I kind of missed that moment where you and Jeremy shared that moment as participants vs. recorders. It would be impossible to bring Don and Jenny down from the booth and Mandy from off-stage but that moment in the play just seems to belong so much to the class as a whole. I can’t help but wanting the audience to see even further behind the scenes to know how many people have contributed so much to putting this together.


  2. Manny- This an excellent post.

    I love the way in which it is structured. We are so thankful that we have had you and Jeremy as such a vital part of the operation from the beginning.

    Your contributions have been invaluable and if we had tried to start on tech weekend with people who did not know the story and the show and had not been a part of the discussions and seen the growth, we could never have pulled it off.

    You are an essential part of what Laramie has become. And I am extremely grateful for all your passion and hard work.

    PLEASE talk to Jeremy and make sure you take your full four seconds (1000-1, 1000-2 etc) after the candlelight vigil. It makes a beautiful picture which punctuates that moment and even though the Shannon and Jen scene is moving ahead. Some of us in the audience are still recognizing the touch between the two of you.

    Thank you for all your hard work. I look forward to having you in Acting Class in the fall.


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