Journey through Hell Week

Odyssey members rehearse long hours


Costumes for “The Odyssey” stand ready backstage. The rehearsal process for the show has grown rigorous as opening night approaches. A Sunday rehearsal, a first for all of the participants, was scheduled to finish needed projects left after the final Saturday rehearsal. Photo by Tori Swart

There is a basic process that goes into each Aves Theatre ensemble show. First come in-class read-throughs, followed by after school rehearsals normally from 2:30-4:30 pm, where the bulk of the show is learned and practiced.

Then comes all-day rehearsals on three or four Saturdays in the month before the show’s opening. Scheduled in the business-like hours of 8 am-5 pm, the show is normally complete by the second or third weekend rehearsal.

The last and most famous step before performing for an audience is Hell Week. These three days begin at 4:30 pm, but may not end until 9 pm or 10 pm.

In the course of these hours, the show is polished with the “nit-picky” details- aligning lighting and music effects with their specific cues, adjusting small problems in actor positioning, moving set pieces on and off stage, and so on.

“We are just at school for ridiculous amounts of time. I have been here when we did not end until 11 pm,” senior Ethan Smilg said.

Smilg is the sound-designer for the fall play “The Odyssey,” meaning that he coordinates sound effects, positions and controls speakers, finds needed music, and directs the sound level of the microphones during the show.

“Sometimes the process can get a bit stressful, just trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, along with the sort of moods I need to communicate, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it,” Smilg said.

For those who have a passion for theater, Hell Week itself seems more like the Best Week.

“I love Hell Week. I don’t feel worn out because I get energy from performing arts. The only problem is that I don’t have enough time to do my homework,” senior Evelyn Garrett said.

Members of the show are given two hours after school to complete their school work before having dinner together at 4:30 pm.

That time together, along with watching each other perform and the excitement building as the show draws nearer, is what makes the week special, Garrett said.

However, a pressure develops with the excitement, based on how much needs to be done before the show can be performed. For “The Odyssey” especially, students predicted long nights and a lot of work.

“This show is more stressful than any show I’ve been in because I have a bigger part in this show than I’ve ever had. Everyone has either a large part or is playing multiple characters,” Garrett said.

The show is pulling together, actors say, even though there is still a lot to be done. “The Odyssey” will be performed Nov. 6-8 at 7:30 pm.

“You’re trapped into the show, and then you start loving it even though you’re trapped by it, or maybe because you’re trapped by it,” senior Bailey McCarthy said.

“When you’re in such close confines with a few number of people for that long of a time, you have two choices: you either end up hating everyone, or you end up loving everyone.”