The unknown work behind Noises Off!

Photo courtesy of Midwest Trust Center

Noises Off is a farcical comedy now playing at JCCC, and will be running again this weekend April 29 through May 1. Although this is the final product, the shows production has been going on for much longer. The play was created by Michael Frayn and is being directed by JCCC theatre director and professor Scott Stackhouse.

The show has been in production since JCCC’s last show, Wonder of the World, had its last performance on March 5th. Noises Off will be the fourth and final production from the JCCC theatre department for the 2022-23 season. For more information on the past productions from the theatre department this year, or previous years, click here.

When casting actors for the show, Stackhouse said that he specifically looked for actors with strong improv talents, meaning they can be funny on the fly. He also told said that he wants them to be able to work without judgment, meaning that he doesn’t want shame or embarrassment to hold them back from the spur of the moment.

Stackhouse has recently been directing his small cast of actors on what to work on in preparation for the show, “We worked on accents first than circumstances, and now we’re working on pace.”

But there is more than just the acting to work on for a show, according to Stackhouse. He told says the biggest challenge for him in producing this show: the set, “It’s a specific set called for by the playwright … [a] two-story house with 9 entrances and exits” Stackhouse described.

The set has to be built by the show’s crew, entirely by hand and mostly out of scrap materials. It must be sturdy enough to be safe for actors, and building a set to match those specifications has been a challenge, according to Stackhouse. And there are other elements to consider too, like props and costumes.

The props master for the show, Tress Katzenmeier, says, “My props team is [five] people strong! I’ve spent a lot of time delegating and working together with my crew. I’m very fortunate that my team is very dedicated and efficient … it’s been very fun working together” Katzenmeier said.

According to Katzenmeier, even something as simple as props passes through multiple hands and phases, even in the early stages, before it can be approved for the final show.

“The scenic designer is the one who leads me in the right direction for the theme of the show. [Stackhouse] is the one who approves it and sees if it can work. Once they both approve the props ideas, it’s finalized for the show” Katzenmeier described.

And that’s just for the ideas for all of the props. The props team still has to actually obtain the props; a process detailed by Katzenmeier.

“I look through the JCCC inventory to see what we have, then decide what should be bought and what can be made,” Katzenmeier said.

Katzenmeier said that while the process may seem simple, there are various factors in it to consider.

“This is a period show, so things have to have a certain feel or style about them that is reminiscent of the decade they’re in,” Katzenmeier said.

All of this talk and work is just what goes into one element of the show: props. For all of the other factors like costumes, set design, sound, lights and backstage crew, they all have teams of people working together to make the show come together cohesively.

The play itself, according to its page on the JCCC website, is a meta play-within-a-play. It is a Farce, a style of comedy.

“Farce is a comic genre where chaos reigns and is typified by exaggerated situations, physical comedy, and a fast pace,” Stackhouse said.

The show’s page on the website describes the content itself that you can expect to see in the show.

“[The show] follows a touring theatre troupe’s production of the flop Nothing’s On. … Between flubbed lines, cast member antics, and flying sardines (of course), get a window into the inner workings of a theatre behind the scenes” the description reads.

Noises Off premiered this past Friday, Apr. 21 and will be shown again the following weekend from April 28-30. The showings on Friday and Saturday both start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. The show will be in the Polsky Theatre, in the Midwest Trust Center building on the JCCC campus.


Mathew Rice, student reporter



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