Audition dates have been set for next January’s production of the hilarious backstage farce Noises Off produced by the South Okanagan Amateur Players.
Noises Off is a play within a play. It is about an ambitious director and his troupe of mediocre actors. The cast and crew are putting together a silly sex comedy titled, Nothing On – a single-set farce in which lovers frolic, doors slam, clothes are tossed away, and embarrassing hi-jinks ensue.
Playwright Michael Frayn created Noises Off in the early 1980s. It is a love letter and an inside joke to those familiar with the thrilling and unpredictable nature of the stage. The title refers to a common stage direction calling for noises to occur offstage as part of the plot. In this case, the “noises offstage” include the chaos of a production gone horribly wrong.
Each of the three acts of Noises Off contains a performance of the first act of Nothing On.
Act One is set at the dress rehearsal the night before opening with the cast still fumbling with entrances and exits, missed cues, misspoken lines, and bothersome props, most notably several plates of sardines.
In Act Two, the play is seen from backstage, providing a view that reveals the deteriorating personal relationships among the cast that have led to offstage shenanigans and onstage bedlam.
In Act Three, we see a performance near the end of the ten-week run when personal friction has continued to increase and everyone is bored and anxious to be done with the play. The actors attempt to cover up a series of mishaps but only compound the problems and draw attention to the bungling performance.
Much of the comedy emerges from the subtle variations in each version as off-stage chaos affects on-stage performance, with a great deal of slapstick. The contrast between players’ on-stage and off-stage personalities is also a source of comic dissonance.
SOAP plans to produce this play at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver in late January, 2016. Auditions will be held on Sunday June 21 in the upstairs board room of the Osoyoos Art Gallery on Main Street, Osoyoos and on Monday June 22 in Big Blue at the Quail’s Nest Arts Centre on Airport Road in Oliver. Both will start at 7 pm. Although auditions are being held this month, there are no plans to have rehearsals during through July and August.
Director Ted Osborne has been involved in many SOAP productions as an actor and director. He was most recently involved in The Long Weekend and Lend Me A Tenor. He will be looking for a cast of five men and four women. More information on the characters can be viewed at www.soplayers.ca. The Director can be contacted at elosborne @ yahoo.com
Copies of the script can be viewed at http://www.paololandi.it/theater/testi/Noises%20off.pdf
LLOYD DALLAS The director of Nothing On, Lloyd is passionate, suave, and extremely harried. He has a hot temper which he barely manages to keep in check, most of the time, as he watches his production go from bad to worse to disaster. He is carrying on affairs with both Brooke and Poppy which leads to very much trouble.
DOTTY OTLEY – A (rather) aging prima donna. Her money is funding the production. She has a great deal of trouble remembering her lines, blocking, and props. Capable of using spite or self-pity to get her way… Is having an affair with the much younger Garry. Plays the part of Mrs. Clackett a cockney housekeeper for the Brent’s home in England; hospitable, though slow.
GARRY LEJEUNE – Means well. Believes in The theatre. Tries to keep the show going and everyone’s morale up, but often has trouble finishing his sentences. His good nature is replaced with jealously when he believes Dotty has begun carrying on with Frederick. Plays the part of Roger, a real estate agent who is attempting to rent the house, but uses it for a place to have an affair with Vicki.
BROOK ASHTON – Young and sexy, but a terrible actress. Incapable of taking direction. Spacey and tuned-out – whether onstage or off. Blind as a bat without her contacts, which have a tendency to pop out at bad times. Carrying on with Lloyd, which is how she got her part in the show . . . She plays the part of Vicki who secretly works for Inland Revenue and is trying to woo Roger.
POPPY NORTON-TAYLOR – The assistant stage manager of Nothing On. Overworked and often on the verge of tears. Works frantically to keep the show from completely falling apart, a hopeless (and thankless) task. Her affair with Lloyd leads to a surprise announcement.
FREDERICK FELLOWES – A neurotic, bumbling actor who is filled with self doubt. A sweet man. Not the brightest bulb in the box. Always has a thousand questions about his lines and blocking. Violence and blood upset him, causing him to faint or get nosebleeds. He plays the part of Phillip Brent who is currently living in Spain with his wife Flavia to avoid paying taxes. He enters the country knowing that if he is caught by Inland Revenue, he will lose most of the year’s income. He also plays the part of Sheikh who is interested in renting the home and is the spitting image of Phillip.
BELINDA BLAIR – An experienced actress who is positive, reliable, and charming. A goodhearted busybody, who knows all the gossip about the company. She attempts to keep the show going as it unravels. She plays the part of Flavia, who is Phillip’s dependable wife opposed to household duties.
TIM ALLGOOD – The company’s long-suffering stage manager who is completely exhausted and sleep-deprived. He’s responsible for an inhuman number of tasks and forced to understudy everybody.
SELSDON MOWBRAY – A cheerful, elderly, alcoholic who forgets his lines and misses his entrances. The entire cast attempts to keep him from getting his hands on a bottle. Panic reigns when he cannot be found at all. He plays the part of an elderly burglar breaking into the Brent’s home.
Note – many parts are not “age specific” except for Selsdon, Brooke, and Dotty. The other actors are experienced and in their “prime” so to speak.