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MET films “Noises Off” in a downtown LA hotel

Cordelia ’21, Sophie ’21, Tess ’21, Josie ’22, Beverly ’22, Neve ’22, Lucy ’22, Ellie ’21, and Zoe ’22 pose for a promotional photo for the MET show. The shoot was done with Covid-19 protocols in place. Photo by Jesse Austin

Marlborough’s ensemble theater is wrapping up preparations for their upcoming show, Noises Off, after nearly a year in the making. They’ve navigated through the challenges of an online environment in order to produce a completely virtually broadcasted show.

MET began the year by looking at a handful of plays and musicals that were chosen based on the group’s strengths, and what they’ve already done to make sure they do something different. This extensive selection process led MET to Noises Off, a farce set in England by Michale Frayn. The play’s director and Performing Arts instructor, Lizi Watt, described the cast’s motivations behind this choice.

“The actors were excited about the comedy element, and bringing something light, fun, and clever to this community this spring, as we’ve all had quite a year,” Watt said.

As this is a British play, it poses its own challenges. For instance, the play requires mastering the Cockney accent, and the cast has spent time doing dialect work with their coach Adam Rose. Cordelia ’21, who plays Selsdon, a retired and alcoholic actor, shared her experience. 

“He has worked really extensively with us on understanding the sounds of received pronunciation in Cockney, and I wasn’t expecting to actually get to learn how English people speak,” Cordelia said.

Additionally, MET also works with Marlborough’s Design Collaborative, a course taught by Technical Director Amelia Charter. Design Collaborative oversees the technical aspects of the show, typically behind the stage, but now behind the screen for Noises Off. Louise ’21, a senior in Design Collaborative and the stage manager for the show, explained how tech has adjusted to the online environment. The crew has been working with props and sound design, filming, editing and broadcasting. She talked about the unique challenges of doing tech online.

“It’s different, and it’s exciting that it’s different, and it’s definitely a challenge but I think a lot of theater is problem-solving, especially technical theater,” Louise said.

MET and Design Collaborative have also found ways to take advantage of their Zoom environment. Typically, they use green screens to edit in backgrounds that correspond to the show. However, for this production, they’ve decided to film in the downtown LA hotel, The Freehand. Amy ’23, a member of the tech crew, reflected on their decision.

“We believed filming in a hotel downtown would be truer to the spirit of the play, being a traveling theater troupe, and it would be a good experience for both actors and tech,” Amy said.

Noises Off will be available to watch online May 13 to 15, with free admission at marlborough.org/noisesoff.

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