Photo by Kayla Michaud | Cast members perform during the dress rehearsal for “Noises Off.”
The University of Rhode Island’s theater department is wrapping up the fall 2018 season with a humorous play called “Noises Off,” that opens on Nov. 29.
“Noises Off is a hilarious show about a terrible show,” Erik Schlicht, a junior theatre major, said. “There’s a play within a play. You see a group of actors with the director, who is played by me, and a bunch of stage managers in the process of rehearsing and putting on the show called ‘Nothing On’ and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.”
“Noises Off” is directed by Chris Simpson, the artistic director at The Contemporary Theatre, in Wakefield, Rhode Island. “The CTC is a theatre that prioritizes relationships, connections and personalization of plays when we do shows at our theatre,” Simpson said. “Bringing some of those values to work on this show, teaching that to the students and helping them understand has been really rewarding and fun.”
“Chris focuses a lot on ensemble building in rehearsals,” Schlicht said. “I used those techniques and tools to play the role of Lloyd Dallas, this high-status, sarcastic and abrasive director who is a lot different than me.”
The show has a heavy demand for costumes, props and set design. Since this play is a “farce within a farce,” the actors had to work mostly on choreographing their movements and synchronizing their acts to effectively time their comedic delivery.
“The second act is just chaos, violence and mistakes happening backstage and you have to choreograph it almost like a ballet,” Simpson said. “Everything has to time out the same way but we don’t even have the luxury of music like a ballet to keep us in sync with one another. That was really challenging.”
This show is highly fast-paced and the cast and crew assure that the audience can expect a lot of antics in this slapstick comedy performance they will be watching.
Brooks Shatraw, a senior theatre major, plays the roles of Garry Lejeune and Roger Tramplemain in “Nothing On.” The former is an actor from New England who never finishes a sentence and the latter is a sly British real estate agent. Shatraw is excited for the audience to be introduced to the humor of the show.
“It’s a whole bunch of shenanigans strung together,” Shatraw said. “The former is an actor from New England who never finishes a sentence and the latter is a sly British real estate agent. People are just gonna come and laugh the entire time because it’s one thing after another thing and it never ends. There’s always something that’s going wrong and it’s ridiculous.”
Many senior theatre majors also took advantage of the opportunity to work as the costume and light directors on the show for the first time.
“I worked really hard my junior year,” Jennifer Stavrakas, a senior and the costume designer of the show, said. “I co-designed another show with another student last year and was always in the costume shop. I had a lot of conversations with my professor and tried to be as involved with the theatre department as I can to show them that I really wanted this opportunity. After putting in a proposal and writing all the reasons why I felt I would do best as costume designer this year, they granted it to me which is probably the biggest achievement I have had so far.”
“Noises Off” runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 6 to Dec. 8, in the Robert E. Will theatre at the URI Fine Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online through the theatre department’s website.