Technical rehearsals for a show are long and can be super boring. It tends to be a lot of hurry up and wait followed by ten minutes of action and then a whole lot of waiting. This post is not based on a college situation, but my experience in regional theatre. Tech in college can be very different, but some things may apply.
Not all stage managers will require you to wear black during tech; if they don’t, you should still wear dark colors or at least no white or anything neon. I always ask the stage manager what they would prefer. The theatre that I work at now has everyone wearing black on first tech no matter what. But you should always have comfy shoes. If you want/need suggestions on black clothing please see this post.
If you’re relatively new to theatre or didn’t study the AEA handbook you’ll hear two phrases throughout the tech process that people will complain about. 8 out of 10 and 10 out of 12. This rule really only applies to actors, but will regulate how many hours you rehearse in a day. So if you have a ten hour call, they can only work eight out of those ten hours with a two hour meal break. But as a member of the stage management team, that rule doesn’t really apply. You’ll be called at least an hour before the actors and will be there after they’ve gone home. Tech is long. (There are a lot of people who want to do away with 10 out of 12’s altogether.)
Making sure you eat during tech is important. Some theatres will provide tech snacks, but they’re usually candy or things high in sodium. Those snacks always taste great in the moment, but at the end of the week you’ll probably not feel so awesome. I try to bring energy bars or fruit to snack on and something healthy to eat during dinner. Coffee and lots of water will also become a main part of your diet.
Bring something to read. Tech is slow moving, even on musicals and farces. Some theatres don’t allow electronics backstage, so bring a book or a magazine. But make sure you are always paying attention to what is happening on stage and on headset. Don’t be the one person who missed a cue because you were reading.
Tools you may need:
This in an example of what I have with me during tech and by extension, the run of a show. I wear a belt with this pouch on it; full of sharpies, highlighters, pens, band aids, flashlight and if you need them or you’re doing a show with a lot of women, tampons. Next to that is my Gerber (don’t buy cheap when it comes to a multi tool) and then my headset pack that the theatre owns. (Some people choose to buy their own headset so they don’t have to share or wear the awful skull crushers that most theatres have.) I also carry a headlamp, but not on my head. This has been my most favorite flashlight since college (I’ve had to replace it once). I wear it around my arm instead of my head, but you can have it in your hand to light someone off and receive a prop. It’s amazing.
We also use spike sticks at my theatre. If you’re unfamiliar with these, you take a block of wood or pencil and wrap spike tape around it. The one I use hangs from my tool belt (sort of like a spike tape rainbow tail) and I have easy access to whatever spike colors we’re using in the show. I also have a small glow kit that is full of glow dots, squares and strips.
The best thing to keep in mind during tech is that everyone is tired and gets stressed out. Being the calm person backstage that can absorb the crazy is good.