SOME DOS & DON'TS WHILE USING CUEING SYSTEMS
THE TECHNICAL REHEARSAL
This is rehearsal time given specifically to the technical crew in order to rehearse all the technical aspects of the production. The play is worked through slowly from the beginning & all the technical cues – i.e. lighting cues, sound cues & scene changes - are run again & again until they proceed without a hitch. You will be asked to play the sound cues into the auditorium & at this point the director/musical director will decide on level & which speakers he wishes the cue to come from. It is very important that the levels & speakers used are marked in on your cue sheets as you proceed. It makes sense to run very complicated sequences of sound to see if you are physically able to cue them – if not, you will have to configure a simpler plan.
PLANNING YOUR SHOW TAPES
It is important to have your sound cues on the right machines. You can obviously only play one sound cue on a minidisc player at one time. Therefore if you have to play 2 cues together, or if 2 sound cues overlap at all they will have to be on different mini disc machines. It is common to need 3 or 4 mini disc machines for a complicated show & the cues have to be put in the correct sequence on the correct machines. (If you are using computer software to cue your show, you will not have to worry about this as these systems can play several cues together.)
DOCUMENT ALL SETTINGS & BACK-UP DATA
As well as making detailed plot sheets it is also advisable to make a diagram of, or take a picture of all the settings on your desk, FX units & power amps. It is not possible to guarantee that someone will not alter your settings between one show & the next - this could have disastrous consequences. Very often people will be working on the desk to prepare the sound for a future upcoming production & if you are touring the desk will be left in different venues every evening. It is better to be safe than sorry.
You must back-up any data that is used in the production. That means making duplicates of minidiscs or audio files. If you are using digital desks it is often possible to "dump" all the desks data into a computer & on to a disc of some kind. If you are using cueing software, make sure you have the settings for the show backed up on a separate disk.
A good plan when touring is to send one copy of the show data with the truck containing the set & equipment, keep one copy yourself & give a third copy to the stage manager to look after. That way you should be safe.
After the technical rehearsal there will probably be a dress rehearsal & maybe a couple of previews where seats are sold cheaply. This will allow you a couple of practice runs before the big night. You can expect to get notes from the director as he/she makes final adjustments to the sound cues.
Arrive well before the show is due to start on. This will give you time to switch on all the equipment & run some cues to check everything is working properly. If you are using radio mics you will need to install fresh batteries & allow yourself time to fit the mics to the performers & test them. Usually actors, if they have to perform songs, will carry out a vocal warm up & this provides the perfect opportunity to check their mic. If their are live musicians, they too will probably warm up on their instruments. Check that your mics are picking up their signal.
Opening night is where all the hard work culminates. There is an audience who do not expect anything to go wrong & the press will be invited to see the show before writing their reviews in the papers. It is normal to be nervous on the opening night, make sure you concentrate & if you have done the groundwork all should go smoothly!