First in...Last out.
It's Friday, before we leave this studio on Sunday. We've been averaging 16 hours a day here. Over the last three days, we've been running two cue-to-cue rehearsals per day. This means that we run the show as if there was an audience in the house, with no breaks for goofs. If somebody misses a cue, dance step, or pick-up in the music, it's up to them to cover it until they can get back in the groove.
We normally start the first one at 3:00 pm. This leaves us lights-elves time in the morning to go over the material worked up during the previous late-night creative brainstorming. This is sort of like waking up from a dream, except that we get to engineer the dream. Then, we look at it in the cold light of day.
The evening sessions are reminiscent of a Hollywood depiction of an advertising company at work on a new campaign. Three or five of us sit around and listen to the tape of the show. When someone gets an idea, we stop the tape and spit it out:
"What if we take the Color Rams to green here..." (sound of the gel changers rolling through their colors...) "Yeah. Okay...Now, let's bump the I-Beams to a stock focus, and change them to Congo Blue, and roll through the gobo patterns at half-speed..." (sound of I-Beam controller buttons banging away in the silence...) "Hmm...No..."
"Well...Let's try this...What if we..."
"Where are we in this tune?"
"What are the dancers doing in this part?"
"NO. WAIT. I GOT IT..."
(sounds of gear getting furiously worked out)
"Wow. That looks really cool."
"Okay. I'll do this at the top of the first measure, and then bump to black, as you roll in your bridge chase..."
"Right. Let's look at it with the tape."
We'll take a look at it, tweak it, and admire it. When it's done, we carry on to the next item on the "hit list".
After the evening rehearsal, we carry on a time and effect honored theatrical tradition known as "notes". This is when we gather together and discuss points of interest recorded during the show on notepads and tape machines. Normally, this is a function of a director: he or she starts the session. This is based on the premise that the director's notes are the most important. Everyone else listens for Bill to call their name.
"Let's see here... Duck: I noticed that during the guitar solo in the middle of 'Free Your Mind', the stairway is sort of dark. Do you have anything on the downstage truss that is focused on that? Can you roll the color changers to something that fits there?"
The point will be discussed from various angles, technical and aesthetic.
"Billy: There are some accents that the band hits toward the end of 'Don't Worry'. Can you write an I-Beam focus that will give us some kind of complimentary color bounces there?"
"What section of the tune?...Can we listen to it?"
After hearing the tape, I tell him the I can come up with something because I'm not very busy during that section of that song.
After last night's notes, Dino and I stayed here and wrote I-Beam cues for two hours after everybody else left. It's the same, age old routine: empty the ashtrays, and put on some coffee...listen to the tape, and stare at the stage until The Idea lands...
"This pure white sheet of paper! Ready for the logic of the plan. T-square, triangle, scale - seductive invitation lying upon the spotless surface. Temptation!"
"Night labor at the drafting board is best for intense creation. It may continue uninterrupted."
"Yes, it seems to me, that is what it means to be an artist...to sieze this essence brooding just behind aspect. These questions arising each with its train of thought by the way, as at work."
(Frank Lloyd Wright- "Designing Unity Temple", 1932)
This is exactly what's going on here...except that our pure sheet of paper is black, and our tools are of the digital age.
September 4, 1992
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