Cues and Levels, Tech. Weekend
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Cues and Levels, Tech. Weekend

Cues and Levels, Tech. Weekend

Typical Calendar. Add 2 extra weeks of rehearsals for musicals.

Production Calendar
Lighting Designers are typically paid 1/3 on signing of the contract,
1/3 upon completion of the lightplot,
Final 1/3 at the opening of the show.

Leading up to Tech. Weekend

Before you hit Tech. Weekend, there are certain goals you need to accomplish in order to make everything go as smoothly as possible.


  • The Set is completed - built and painted.  All the props are finished so that the actors are now able to begin using actual show props.
  • The Costumes are completed - built and fitted.
  • The Sound Tape has been played at least once - running times checked, levels set.
  • The Lights have been hung, focused and gelled.  Preliminary base cues have been created, so that the Lighting Designer already has something to show the director - so they need only to make changes - not to create cues. A list of cues and their placement (a cue synopsis) has been given to the Stage Manager (S. M.) to be entered in their book ahead of time.
  • The S. M. has placed all the cues in their book so that he/she knows what to expect when. She/he should already have some ideas from the various designers and director as to how the cues should be called.

Level Set

The Level Set is run mostly by the Lighting Designer. With the Stage Manager and his/her book close by, and the director watching, the Lighting Designer should "run through the cues" already made to verify with the director that the timing, placement, and "feelings" are right.

Ideally, there should be stops only to work out trouble spots where blocking has changed or where clarification is needed. (Of course, main ideas have already been exchanged between the designer and director, so problems should be minor ones). During Level Set, it is good to have an actor or Assistant Stage Manager (A.S.M.) or someone else familiar with the show to walk the stage.

A similar set-up should be run through with the Sound Designer.

Tech table by Jess Hoff
Tech table photo by Jess Hoff

Cue to Cue

The Cue to Cue is run by the Stage Manager. Since this is Tech Weekend, this is the time for the Stage Manager to get familiar with calling the cues while running the show. It is a time to STOP AND TAKE CARE OF ANY TECHNICAL PROBLEMS because there will be no chance to do so later. Set changes, prop hand-off, Body-Mic switching, Light transitions, cue ordering (relationships between Sound, Sets, and Light Cues) should all be dealt with now. As this can be a tense day for everyone, .it is best for the Stage Manager to assume control right away, letting all know what their job is and how to proceed from there.
Scenes should only be played in order to call the next cue. Advice; give the actors a starting point l/4 page ahead of the cue, put all concerned in "Stand-By", and give the actors a "go" by calling "scene" (calling it "go" to the actors can be confusing to the Tech, crew, so it is always best to avoid the "G" word whenever possible. Once the cue is completed, ask the actors to "hold please" (much nicer to hear than "stop") and then tell them where they should set up for the next cue. THE ONLY TIME A SCENE SHOULD KEEP RUNNING IS IF IT WOULD NOT SAVE TIME BY STOPPING IT. (Cues may be very close together). Designers should do what they can with notes as opposed to stopping to correct a "look", but should take care of what they feel is immediately necessary while the opportunity presents itself.

Tech. Run

Whenever possible, after a cue to cue, it is advisable to have a "Tech Run". This gives everyone (actors, crew, Stage Manager, designers, director, etc.) a chance to see how it all works together "In Time". This is again a prime time to stop for problems, and you may find new ones (actors having a set piece in their way when trying to leave, etc.).

Hopefully, you will not need to stop, but if you have to: Do it! This is your last official chance to stop for anything other than costume problems. Cue adjustments may be made here, but they should not interfere with the running of the show or calling of the cues.
Headset rule: When the crew is put on "Stand By" by the Stage Manager, designers should stop talking. You may decide to either take a written note or stop the run - depending on the need/importance of the change. The Director should follow the same guideline.

First Dress and Other Runs

First Dress

Is the same as above although all stops should be avoided unless something with costumes needs to be worked on. This is the time to have people work on picking up the speed for quick-changes and practice the switching of body-mics, maybe re-arranging costumes to opposite sides of the stage for entrances/exits, etc. Again, the Lighting Designer should be refining the cues but should stop using headsets when any "Stand By" has been given by the S.M.

Other Runs

The more additional runs available, the better-off the production is. These additional runs should be treated like actual shows as much as possible in order for the S. M. to be able to get a true sense of continuity - and to clarify any and all cue-calling-problems.

The Run of the Show

As of opening night, the show officially belongs to the S.M. The director, designers, etc. should be able to give the Stage Manager and/or actors (via the S.M.) constructive notes, but all decisions and problems that may arise should be handled by (or at least through) the S.M. so that she/he may alert the necessary people involved. The crew should be instructed to act within this protocol because the show is, after all, the S.M.'s responsibility.