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UAlbany Go2!Events
Noises Off  is a
 UAlbany Go2!Event

UAlbany’s production opens Friday, November 21, 2003, at 8pm in the Main Theatre of the Performing Arts Center and runs throughout the weekend and then again the weekend of Dec. 3-6. Performances are $12/$8 for students, seniors and staff.

UAlbany actors prepare for Noises Off

Two cast members, Caitlin Bopp and Megan DiNicola, give some behind-the-scenes perspectives--from auditions to opening night in our “feature within a feature:” Two Weeks and Counting: Actors’ Journal >>

Caitlin Bopp
  Caitlin Bopp

Our Actors
Caitlin Bopp is a junior pursuing a double major in English and Theatre. From Guilderland, NY, Caitlin grew up loving theatre and active in High School productions. In high school she took some acting classes at UAlbany and the rest, as they say is history. Caitlin plays the part of Brooke in NOISES OFF, who in turn plays the part of Vicki in Nothing On, the play within the play. “My character, Vicki, runs around in her underwear throughout most of the show, opening up lots of doors for humorous innuendo and, well, my own personal embarrassment.”

Megan DiNicola
  Megan DiNicola

Megan DiNicola, a senior Theatre major, originally from Staten Island, NY, began her theatrical career with dancing school at age 2, and since then has been singing, dancing and acting every chance she can. She recently won the role of Poppy, the Assistant Stage Manager, in UAlbany’s production of NOISES OFF.

No Sweat
Megan: I auditioned for NOISES OFF for a few reasons: First and foremost because I love acting and this may be my last chance to act recreationally in a play before I graduate. Also I have never had the chance to act in a farce. I also couldn't pass up the opportunity of working with (director) Leigh Strimbeck at least once before I graduate. I had her as a teacher twice in my college career and I wanted to experience her as a director outside of the classroom.

Like every other audition I’ve gone to at UAlbany, this audition was very welcoming and “laid back,” yet professional. When you’ve been at this school for four years, you create relationships with your professors and you have certain bonds with them both inside and outside the classroom setting. Some might find it difficult putting those relationships aside in order to audition and be "professional", but I find those relationships help make the audition process go a lot smoother and calmer.

Caitlin: The audition was a little nerve racking as I had been away for a long weekend and came in without any preparation. In the past I’ve always been very prepared for auditions, so I left having no idea of how well I had performed.

Thoink yer verra much!
Megan: I went into the audition, was greeted by Leigh, and jumped right on stage and performed the monologue I had prepared beforehand. When I finished with my monologue, I had to recite the first eight lines of “Twas the Night before Christmas” in an English accent, was thanked by Leigh for coming, and was done with my audition. All in all it went very well and was one of the least stressful auditions I have ever been to.

I Get Cast!
Megan: I went into the audition not looking for a specific role, but open to whatever may be handed to me and I read for a few different characters. The role I was given is Poppy, the assistant stage manager (ASM) of the show. She is one of the youngest members of the company and is still learning all the ropes of being an ASM. She has a tough exterior, but deep down she is an innocent girl, just trying to fit in and be happy. She hasn’t found her place in life yet, but hopefully with theNoises Off Rehearsal experience of doing this show, she will be able to come out of her shell more and start doing things for herself.

Caitlin: I had no chance to even read the play before I auditioned so I was surprised that I was cast, and then cast in the role of “Brooke/Vicki”. Brooke is pretty, but not the brightest—and she’s never really had to be more than that. To say anymore would ruin a lot of fun surprises, but I will say that my biggest challenge, initially, is trying to empty my head of brain cells before rehearsal!

The Big Challenge…
Getting the British accent down! I have a very thick New York accent and since I‘ve never had to use an accent outside of my own before, I found it very difficult to get the pronunciations and cadences down. It is getting better with time, I just need to keep working at it.

Another major challenge with this role is stepping outside of myself and my outgoing personality and toning it down to a more timid, somewhat helpless personality. For anyone who knows me, I am a very outgoing and loud person, and so to be a character who is the complete opposite of me is difficult. I find myself slipping in and out of my role while being onstage, but like with the accent, it’ll get better with time.

Caitlin: The show has so many little details – business that is very complicated. Everything needs to be so tightly choreographed and staged so that there is no potential of something dangerous happening. It’s the details though that make a good show into an awesome show, so that’s what we are “attacking” in rehearsals now.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Megan: Rehearsals are very well organized and extremely fun. The cast has bonded and become very good friends so far. Some of us were friends before being cast in this show, but regardless of the previous friendships, we hadn’t worked on a show together, so this is a new experience to all of us.Noises Off Rehearsal

The first few rehearsals consisted of read-throughs and discussions and this is where we became more and more familiar with the text and each other. Before every rehearsal we warm up by doing some sort of “improv” exercise -- like a game of musical chairs as our characters. This helps us to get into our characters and we’re ready to jump right into rehearsals.

Since NOISES OFF is a “play within a play”, the first thing Leigh made us do was stage the play NOTHING ON, which is the play the cast of NOISES OFF is putting on. During this rehearsal, we were told to be our character throughout the entire rehearsal, as if we were actually rehearsing NOTHING ON.  We were to speak in British dialect the entire time and ask questions and make comments as if we were really our characters.

As Poppy, the ASM, I sat in the house while the cast staged the show, and performed everything that an ASM would do. This exercise helped incredibly because it gave us all a chance to get a feel for what it’s like being these characters trying to rehearse. I thought of some quirky habits Poppy might do and even came up with some background information on why Poppy does some of the things that she does.

Caitlin:  Rehearsals now consist of running an act. We go until we come to some glitch. Some are minor and can be fixed right away and we can just go on. Others are major. Then we have to run and rerun the business to get it smooth and make sure it all makes sense. This is tough right now, since we don’t have the set up, but as much as we can get done without it will only make it easier to adapt once we do have it. Sometimes we’ll stop and work for 15 minutes on literally 10-12 seconds of stage action. It can really drag, that’s for sure, but it’s definitely worth it. I love to watch Leigh in all her directing glory, that keeps me entertained even when I’m not involved in whatever is going on. I can’t wait to go through a rehearsal with the set, see how everything applies. Should be interesting….

Stay tuned for next week’s installment…Opening Night approaches!

Tell Us Your Story




About Noises Off

New York critics called it the “funniest farce ever written.” Noises Off is classic British comedy written by Michael Frayn. It’s a hilarious and witty play-within-a-play following the antics of a second-rate British acting company, both on and off stage, as they prepare for a production of a pants-dropping farce called “Nothing On.”

From the final rehearsals to opening night and beyond, everything that can possibly go wrong does! Watch for actors in their underwear, sardines and slamming doors as the actors try to hang onto their lines and the furniture. The mayhem grows as the audience watches the production descend into chaos. “British Farce is a great experience for students in working in language and physical comedy,” says Leigh Strimbeck, director. “Pace, dialect, and ensemble work are all important elements of the play.”

There’s an old expression in theatre lore that “dying is easy, comedy is hard.” One of the many challenges in the staging of Noises Off is that the complex set revolves 180 degrees at each intermission. The audience gets to view the rehearsals of “Nothing On” and then gets to see what’s happening backstage. Many of the actors are actors, who are actors! All must speak with British accents. There are many props (all the items that the actors handle or deal with on the stage), a complicated script to memorize and lots of physical work – there’s even an elaborate fall down a flight of stairs that one of the actors must do. A fight choreographer, David Bunce of the New York State Theatre Institute is helping to stage that. “The other challenge during rehearsals,” says Strimbeck, “is that the play is so funny—we have to stop laughing and remind ourselves to get down to business!”

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