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19-20 Noises Off

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Director – Charlene Ledbetter


Michael Frayn’s Noises Off takes a fond look at the follies of theatre folk, whose susceptibility to out-of-control egos, memory loss, and passionate affairs turn every performance into a high-risk adventure. This play-within-a-play captures a touring theatre troupe’s production of Nothing On in three stages: dress rehearsal, the opening performance, and a performance towards the end of a debilitating run. Frayne gives us a window into the inner workings of theatre behind the scenes, progressing from flubbed lines and missed cues in the dress rehearsal to mounting friction between cast members in the final performance. Brimming with slapstick comedy, Noises Off is a delightful backstage farce, complete with slamming doors, falling trousers, and — of course — flying sardines!

Director’s Notes

Many people mistakenly think of farce as broad low comedy.  In fact, it’s polished high comedy.’  Mark Linn-Baker, Actor

Coincidentally, Mark Linn-Baker played Tim in the 1992 movie, Noises Off.  You might also remember him from My Favorite Year, a 1982 comedy starring Peter O’Toole – and well worth a watch today.

The history of farce is long and–sometimes–distinguished.  With origins in ancient Greek and Roman stories and plays, farce saw a revival in Renaissance France.  Even William Shakespeare used the elements of mistaken identity, highly improbable situations, plays-within-plays, and physical comedy in many of his works, including Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It.

Noises Off is widely regarded as the quintessential farce, going to extraordinary lengths to regale its audiences with slapstick, bedroom comedy, doubles and clever wordplay.  Written in 1982 by Michael Frayn, it has been performed thousands of times since then in community theatre, Broadway revivals, and even a movie in 1992 starring Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, and Christopher Reeve, among others.  I was fortunate to see the 2001 Broadway revival, featuring Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher, in person.

I first worked with much of this dream cast last year in The Creature Creeps! They are the most hard-working, talented and fun people you will ever meet.  It is my pleasure, honor and delight to work with this cast, this theatre and my dear and talented husband Sheldon.  Sheldon was super-excited to engineer 8 separate entrances in 12 feet of headspace!  He is the ultimate technical set, sound and lighting engineer.  This is our 4th collaboration with Devon Hacker as set designer. He always brings something amazing to the set as he turned old, beat-up, used doors into gorgeous replicas of doors I photographed in Chester, England.

Get ready to laugh, A LOT! Please enjoy this presentation of Noises Off.