by director Tom Quaintance

It’s about 1:00am – I’m sitting in the Paul Green Theatre after we just wrapped up our weekend of “ten out of twelve” tech rehearsals.  We go from noon to midnight with a dinner break each night from 5:00-7:00. Long days.  A common term to describe this time is “tech hell” – but it is my favorite part of rehearsals.  An army of amazing designers, talented technicians and phenomenal artisans are putting together the complex technical elements of the show.  I can’t speak to how well the show is directed, but it is designed beautifully.

This is a particularly exciting show to tech.  SHIPWRECKED is chokerblock full of theatrical challenges.  We tell a story that ranges across decades and continents, from England to the Coral Sea.  The show is a tight 90 minutes, but it feels like we packed the tech of a much longer show into the confines of this story.  I love the old school theatre storytelling done with technical virtuosity; the shadow puppets, the Foley artists upstage creating the ambient sound effects of the show, the actors creating a storm by flinging their bodies across the stage, the list goes on and on.

This play could be done with three actors, a chair and a box of paper clips… this is not that production.  Donald Margulies, in his afterword of the play, says of the story of Louis de Rougemont: “In it I saw the potential for a purely theatrical play about the power of the imagination.”  This production revels in that idea of pure theatricality.  We demand much of both the imagination of the audience and our own imagination as artists.  There is no conceit here that we are only going to tell this story using things Louis could have brought with him from the 19th century, or from a single box we drag on stage.  We are celebrating our storytelling power as theatre artists – and tech is where we get to see it all come together.

I can’t wait for previews to start.  We’ve thus far been rehearsing without one of our most important characters.  Finally, on Wednesday, the audience arrives.

The cast of Shipwrecked! in the rehearsal hall before tech

The cast of Shipwrecked! in the rehearsal hall before tech

Director Tom Quaintance and cast members Jimmy Kieffer, Derek Ledbetter, Scott Ripley and Dee Dee Batteast

Stage Manager Sarah Smiley with Foley artists Josh Tobin, Lauren Klingman and Kelsey Didion

Some of the Foley instruments used on stage to provide the show’s sound effects