For those of us in the production department, Easter week (as defined as the week between Palm Sunday and Easter) is one of the toughest weeks of the year. Perhaps it’s because we typically have only 5 days to get everything ready (4 if you do Good Friday…), or perhaps because we pull out all the stops for the weekend, but it can be a killer for us. I’m not afraid of some hard work, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that A) I really don’t enjoy 80-hour weeks any more and B) I know I get cranky and irritable after about 60. The last thing I want to be on Easter morning is cranky and irritable, so I’m learning how to keep that from happening.
Pre-Build Anything You Can
In year’s past, we really did try to pack everything into those four days after Palm Sunday. This year, we learned from our Christmas experience, and pre-built a lot more. Weeks before Palm Sunday, my show files were done for the SD5, SD8 and M-48s. All I had to do was load them and start working. We pre-built some of the set the week before, and even installed the SD5 at FOH and SD8 at monitors the weekend before Palm Sunday, getting everything full functioning and operational.
Because of the work I was able to do with last year’s virtual soundcheck files, I pre-built all my vocal monitor mixes several weeks before as well. With a good 20-30 hours worth of work done before we even started the week, it was amazing how ahead we were.
Hit it Hard Up Front
This year, we were able to get a great team of helpers in on Palm Sunday afternoon to help with the set. In just two hours, the set was built, and we had already checked off half of Monday’s list. When Monday arrived, we started early, got all the lights in, set the band decks and fully wired and line-checked all audio before we went home. Granted, we didn’t go home until 11 PM, but we were essentially set for the whole week. Having all that work done by Monday night made the rest of the week go much more smoothly.
Take Time to Rest
Because we had rehearsal on Tuesday night, we decided not to come in until 12:30 that day. We spent the afternoon tweaking, checking and re-checking our set ups and doing some lighting programming. When we wrapped up at 9:30, we all still felt pretty good, having had a good night’s sleep, a quiet morning and only a 9 hour day.
Wednesday was even better. We came in for about 4 hours mid-day to run tracks from the previous night, and reset for Good Friday.
Thursday we again arrived at noon, so even when we left at 11 it was a long day, but it wasn’t 16 hours long. By the time we got to Friday, things were ready to go and we were reasonably rested.
Granted, by the time I got to Saturday, it was day 12 in a row for me, and I’m learning if I don’t get a full day off every 10 or so, I get cranky. So next year, I’m going to figure out how to take Wednesday off next year. It may mean working a little longer Tuesday or Thursday, but I think it will be worth it.
Now, what works for me may not work for you. If you’re young and spry, working twenty 12-hour days in a row may not wear you out. But when you’re old like me, that is not nearly as much fun. Rather than being aggravated and cranky all the time, I’m working really hard to figure out how to pace myself so I can stay positive all week.
It’s a funny thing, though. When we left at 2 on Wednesday, my wonderful ATD Jon texted me saying, “I feel guilty leaving this early, like we’re doing something wrong.” I reminded him that his boss said it was OK. But I can relate. I too, felt a little guilty. But I remembered, we’re not being paid to work 80-90 hours a week during Easter. We’re paid to produce a memorable and powerful Easter weekend. If we can do that and take a day off during the week, then I’d say we are doing something right.
What about you? How was your Easter week?