Star TechDate: 8 August 2010I'm sharing my Edinburgh digs with the show's two techies. I like techies. They're generally much more down to earth than performers; quieter, less attention-seeking (which is obviously all I am not, but there you are). I'm not saying performers aren't lovely people to be with, but techies have a more grounded approach to life. In my opinion anyway.
I know I might be ruffling a few feathers here, but they do have a rather thankless task. They don't take a bow at the end of shows. They show up at the theatre before the actors do and leave later than everyone else. During the show they remain unseen in the shadows, dressed in black from head to toe, heaven forbid an audience member catches a glimpse of them. In between performances, they can be found fixing things, washing costumes, writing show reports and doing a myriad of other jobs that no actor would ever do. I mean, imagine trying to get an actor to write a show report after very single performance. Good luck is all I'm saying!
Another thing about techies is that they are all mad. Didn't see that coming did you? Allow me to explain. It has come to my attention that many (in fact the majority) of techies in Edinburgh are rather loose with their allegiances to any particular production. In fact, it is not uncommon for a techie to work on simultaneous shows whilst at the festival. Apparently, it is common practice for them to traipse around all over Edinburgh moving from one production to the next, as if they were playing some sort of video game.
You must understand, I'm not talking about doing two or three shows. I know of one techie that is working no less than eight shows at this festival. Now, admittedly demand for his time is a reflection on his talents, but my question is: why don't actors do this? Can we do this? I'm not sure. It must be exhausting. I mean, if we're busy moving from one show to another, wouldn't our performances begin to suffer? And when would we find the time to drink? I'm sure that if actors began doing this, the world would get to know about it pretty quickly and yet, techies have been doing this for years and their quality of work remains excellent. They quietly do their thing and they do it well.
Alright, so they're not going to be seen by an audience. It's just as well. I saw one techie who looked like he hasn't seen a shower in days (which he probably hasn't) and has just spent the last few nights sleeping on someone's bare floor (which he probably has). He carried an overstuffed rucksack, had about a hundred different venue passes hanging around his neck and a hair style that would make any hairdresser begin to itch. And yet, he seemed to be having the time of his life. That's what's brilliant about techies. Ask any group of actors to sleep on the floor for a couple of nights, and perform in more than one show in a day and they'll be moaning and grumbling all the way.
One of the techies I'm sharing my digs with recently spent two consecutive nights sitting on the floor of his room, fixing and connecting wires to bits of other wires. I'm not sure what he was doing exactly, although he explained it to me several times over ("I'm creating a quadruple side-pass connection between the DB cable and the overhead double stitch box multiplier"). The floor of his room was absolutely covered in wires. It looked like he'd gone out and bought every single bit of wore in Edinburgh (apparently he did). He sat there amongst the biggest and most complicated wire spaghetti junction ever seen on this planet, happily playing about with bits and pieces of identical-looking wires. He did this for two night running, taking care of our show during the day. Eventually, he finished the job and result of his hard work can now be seen in one of the fringe's shows. Do you think he got much credit for his efforts? Do you think he got an applause for the hours put in? Did he heck. But does he care?
Make no mistake, techies are the true stars of the fringe. I recently came across this quote: 'An actor without techies is a naked person standing in the dark, trying to emote. A techie without actors is a person with marketable skills'. Try as I might, I just can't find a clever reply to that.
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