'Noises Off' a play set backstage

Published on Friday, 27 June 2014 08:24 - Written by BY CHELSEA KATZ, MCT News Direct

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Each play staged at the Texas Shakespeare Festival brings its own quirks and set of challenges, but for “Noises Off,” those challenges have been a deterrent until now.

The most important aspect of staging the play — the complex set — has traditionally required more work than TSF had time and staff to devote in the past.

“Noises Off” is a play about a play and the follies and problems that arise backstage.

TSF Director Raymond Caldwell first directed “Noises Off” 25 years ago while an instructor at Kilgore College. The cast included Jason Richards, now a TSF staff member and actor. Caldwell is returning to the directorial post and Richards is in one of the lead roles.

As the fictional play unfolds, the set must enable the audience to see backstage as well which requires a double-sided set that turns. The set has two stories with three sets of stairs and 10 doors through which actors maneuver.

“It’s a huge set,” Caldwell said, adding that it’s a complicated one.

“The actors are constantly running up and down stairs and in and out of doors, and the timing is crucial,” he said about the fast-paced “bedroom farce.”

Caldwell was not sure he would go back to the play because he said he remembered telling his wife during his first attempt, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a director.”

Meghan Potter, the festival’s, technical director, told him making the set was possible.

“So, trusting her judgment, we decided to give it a try,” he said.

Caldwell said Potter made it so the “Noises off” set was ready earlier than the other sets.

“She and the carpenters very generously worked hard to get as much of the set up as soon as possible, so we could begin rehearsing on it,” he said. “I don’t know that you could do this play in the time we’ve got unless you have the set to work on.”

Chelsea Katz is a reporter for the Kilgore News Herald.