‘Noises Off’ comes to Harper Joy
The lines have been memorized; door choreography is down; lights, sound and set have been perfected and the opening night of “Noises Off” is upon us.
From Thursday, Oct. 18 through Sunday, Oct. 21, the Harper Joy Theatre will present the famed play-within-a-play comedy, complete with humorous misunderstandings, backstage drama, slapstick and a highly impressive revolving set drafted by visiting New York designer Sarah Walsh. Marking Garrett Professor of Dramatic Arts Nancy Simon’s last directorial effort at Whitman, it promises to offer a fantastic night of theatre.
The cast and crew were in great spirits when The Pioneer dropped by a weeknight rehearsal. The actors seemed to be having a blast with the piece, a high-spirited and wildly farcical play.
“We have a terrific cast. We are always making each other laugh off—and even sometimes on—stage,” said sophomore Kathryn Bogley, who plays the part of Brooke/Vicki. “We bond really well and I feel that it will show onstage.”
But the performances aren’t all fun and games. Much of the play’s comedy comes from well-timed entrances, intricately placed props, and an entire act performed in almost complete silence.
“’Noises Off’ is incredibly precise, and the only way we were able to reach its current level of accuracy was through an inordinate amount of practice and rehearsal,” said sophomore Ana Greeley, who performs the role of Belinda/Flavia in the show. “We were at the theatre for 18 hours a week and Nancy made sure we went over each section until we had [it] down. Very stressful, but very effective.”
For her part, Simon is very proud of her cast and crew as well as her own work on the show.
“The great pleasure of my life is doing theatre with students,” she said. “I’m working with a group of about twenty student actors, designers, stage managers and crew. They have been first-rate in their professional commitment and extraordinary in the amount of complicated work they’ve had to accomplish in a short time.”
Simon also commented on the difficulty of farce, a genre of comedy that is often hard to pull off.
“Farce is the most demanding form of theatre,” she said. “Not a hair can be out of place, not a beat can come in late. It requires great technique, stamina and intelligence. I hope we’ve learned a lot about how it works, and I hope we will learn a lot about the great joy of letting an audience laugh.”
Ultimately, “Noises Off” seems to be the perfect choice for the final production of Simon’s career at Whitman.
“For my last production before retiring in December, I wanted a piece that would reflect both my deep love of theatre and my strong sense of the comedy of our existence,” she said. “What better choice than ‘Noises Off’?”