Prior to the Load-In
297
Some ideas to consider when the
stage time clock runs out:
•Cananyworkbeaccomplishedpriortothe
beginning of the load-in? Is it possible to pre-
hang masking, other soft goods? Install the
deck? Is it possible to bring any other trucks in
before the load-in begins?
•Howmanyhoursoftimeexistpriortothefirst
performance? If the call is departmentalized,
how many people are allocated per department?
• Istheretimeallocatedforthebasiclightingtasks:
a hang session, a hot test session, a focus session, a
cue level setting session, a technical rehearsal, and
a dress rehearsal? Can any tasks be combined?
•Howmuchlightingequipmentisbeingsupplied
by the show? How is the rental gear packaged?
Any chance to change that, and speed the hang?
Can any house gear be pre-hung that might save
time? Or might it instead lose time?
•Istheshowcarryingitsownlightingconsole?Is
it possible to pre-write any cues prior to load-in,
either in the shop, on another console, or using
off-line editing software?
When all is said and done, no matter how badly other
departments’ bone-headed choices may negatively
impact the lighting department’s schedule, everyone
hastoworktogether.(Forthepurposesofthisficti-
tious text, lighting would never make any scheduling
gaffs.*ahem*).Thelightscan’tbefocuseduntilthe
main components of the scenery are in place. Do all
of them need to be in place before any focus can take
place? Is it possible to focus some other area of the
light plot while the final portion of the scenery gets
installed? That’s when experience and the ability to
adapt come in to play.
While added events or left curves can significantly
impact a production schedule, more often than not
the overall number of days and work calls, once estab-
lished back in the production meetings, often remain
the same. The actual activities that take place during
those work calls may eventually have absolutely noth-
ing to do with what was originally scheduled. And no
matter how far ahead the production may seem to be,
relative to the original objectives laid out in the sched-
ule, it is rare that a work call is ever cancelled. The
work always seems to expand to fill the schedule.
The production schedule may be turned on its
head, but that typically doesn’t really start happening
until all the “unforeseens” start to show themselves.
More often than not, they remain concealed until the
stage time clock starts, when the old adage “time is
money” becomes painfully true.
While there are many important dates and
meetings on the production schedule, one of the
more important time periods prior to the load-
in is the run-though. Or, if you’re lucky, the run
throughs.
WATCHING THE RUN THROUGH
The run-through is often the final scheduled work
session for the cast in the rehearsal space. While more
than one run-through may appear on the schedule,
after the final one, the rehearsal hall is cleared of the
production’s equipment. The show gear and all the
personnel then move into the theatre in order to start
the technical rehearsals onstage. There are multiple
reasons for a run-though.
From the director’s perspective, the run-though
may be the first and last time to see the overall rhythm
and flow of the show, without getting slowed down
by the technical elements like transitions, costume
changes, or light cues. It’s also the director’s only
shot to see if, as the show runs, the overall produc-
tion concept succeeds. For the performers, the run-
though is the first chance to consider where they’ll
need to be both on and offstage during each moment
of the show. For the rest of the creative team, the run-
through allows them to see how the individual scenes
willfit(ornot)intotheenvironmentwaitingforthem
at the theatre.
For the lighting designer, on the other hand, the
run-through is a big deal. A huge deal. On a complex
show with a tight tech schedule, most designers con-
sider attending the run-though critical. As opposed to
all the meetings and descriptions and diagrams, the run-
through shows the lighting designer the actual planned
placement of every scene. It shows the designer all the
transitions. It shows where everyone who isn’t talk-
ing in the script or score has actually been blocked on
the stage. It allows the lighting designer to place each
lighting change, have a sense of the amount of time
required for each change, and may allow the lighting
designer to understand what needs to change for all
those incomplete cues listed in the cue master. Finally
the run-through will show the lighting designer all the
10-minute dance sequences that, up till now, have been
indicated in the script as “Group Dance.”
On top of that, the run-though might be the first
and only time that the lighting designer ever gets to
see anything about the show before the whole thing
drops into his or her lap onstage. For that matter,
this might be the first time the designer’s seen any-
thing, even though the plot’s been approved and get-
ting prepped while we speak.

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