Writer: Lisa Parker
When the doors open at the Martha R. Tatum Theatre Wednesday night, actors will be late, props will be lost and sound effects will be heard at the wrong times.
A disaster? Think again. It's only part of the plot of The University of Southern Mississippi Theatre department's latest production, "Noises Off," a manic comedy that gives its audience a behind-the-scenes glimpse of theatre. The show runs March 4-8 and 10-12.
Yolanda Williams, a third-year graduate student from Jackson who will direct the production, explained that the show allows audiences to see what goes on behind the curtain during a theatre performance, including dress rehearsals, technical rehearsals and what happens when things go wrong.
"It's really a show within a show, because the Southern Miss actors are playing actors, who are playing characters in a fictional play," Williams said. "So it's like the audience is getting a backstage pass."
Shana Soloman, the show's set designer and props supervisor, says what makes this production so unique is the mechanics. The two-story set is built on a rotating turntable that stretches 30 feet across the stage.
"During the first and third acts, the audience will see what happens onstage," explained Soloman. "But during Act II, the stage rotates and [the audience] will see the backstage area."
Windows will break, fights will erupt and chaos will ensue between the characters.
"The show is very heavy in slapstick with a lot of stunts," said Soloman, who is a third-year graduate student from Greeneville, Tenn. "Everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, and it will really make you laugh."
"There's a lot of moving in this play," said Byram native Jessie Owen, who is the stage manager for the show. "But it's definitely a crowd pleaser."
Cast member and second-year graduate student Courtney Susman from Lewisburg, W.Va., describes the show as a "wild, theatrical ride."
"The characters are so human, so full of flaws," said Susman. "They're just like everyone in today's society that we come across every day."
Over 18 people contributed to the efforts of the show, many of them designers, cast members and practicum students. Most of the work and preparation began in January at the start of the spring semester.
So how was this group able to pull together a three-act farce in just over a month's time?
"It's all about passion for the theatre," said Williams. "That's why we do what we do. The students and the faculty are passionate about the arts that we produce and, with everything we produce, you'll see that passion."
"Noises Off" will be presented March 4-7 and 10-12 at 7:30 p.m., and March 8 at 2 p.m. in the Martha R. Tatum Theatre. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens and military, and $6 for students. Order tickets online at www.southernmisstickets.com or call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418 or 800.844.8425.
For more information, visit the Web at www.usm.edu/arts or contact Angela Kilcrease at 601.266.4988.
The Southern Miss Department of Theatre and Dance will present Michael Frayn's hilarious comedy "Noises Off" March 4-12 at the Martha R. Tatum Theatre. Pictured cast members include Jason Atkins of Clemson, S.C.; Sean Scrutchins of Shawnee, Okla.; and Burton Tedesco of Tampa, Fla. Tickets may be purchased at the Southern Miss Ticket Office by calling 601.266.5418 or 800.844.8425. Order online at www.southernmisstickets.com. (Photo by Erin Wojtala)
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.