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A Chat With: "Noises Off" Director Dr. Alan Litsey

A Chat With: "Noises Off" Director Dr. Alan Litsey

For Immediate Release
Jan. 10, 2017

An interview with Dr. Alan Litsey, director and longtime BSC professor of theatre arts. The production, which is in three acts, will hit the stage Jan. 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at the College Theatre as part of an Exploration Term class. Litsey will conduct a Provost's Forum “Noises Off: Speak Louder than Words” with company members on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 11 a.m. at the College Theatre/Mainstage. Tickets are on sale.

Why did you choose this particular production for the 2017 E-Term project? 
Noises Off is great fun and one of the most hilarious comedies ever written for the theatre.

Would you expand on the storyline of Noises Off being a play within a play?
When we meet the characters in Noises Off, they are surviving a late evening final dress rehearsal of a farce called Nothing On. Patience is thinning and tempers are rising. In Act Two, the company has been on the road for a month. But this time, the action is seen from backstage during an unfortunate performance of the play. Romantic jealousy, fatigue, and human frailty elevate the play's conflict. Missed opportunities, missed entrances, mistakes, and mishaps really “puts the FUN in dysFUNctional.”

Any surprises in the play for those who've seen the movie?
BSC's company brings unique, comic creativity to our production. There's nothing to rival Noises Off in a live performance, especially with BSC's talented students.

What's it been like for you working with this cast of students?
Inspiring. The entire company hit the ground running on Jan. 3. I have the privilege of collaborating with amazing student technicians, designers, and actors every day. Learning about the play and all its possibilities with our company is a director's dream.

Why is Noises Off considered a comedy classic? 
The play within a play has been a beloved convention for generations. Noises Off is chock-full of recognizable human frailty, passion, slapstick humor, and word play. The play delights and surprises audiences brilliantly. Just when you think things could not go any further awry, more comic calamity greets this production of Nothing On. We are fascinated by “what can go wrong” in human endeavors. Backstage drama happens everywhere. The setting of this play happens to be the theatre. And it is delicious fun.

How many students are involved in the E-Term production?
Thirty students serve as technicians, designers, and actors. A unique aspect of E-Term is that students frequently wear more than one hat. For example, Darby Burgess is co-costume designer in collaboration with costumer Patti Manning in the morning hours, and performs the character of Brooke in afternoon rehearsals. Jackson Massey is props crew head, but also plays the character of Selsdon. Lighting designer Colton Hinderliter is working full time with his crew. Sarah Walker as stage manager keep us on track, and publicity manager Charlie Freeman has designed a plan to reach out across campus. (View names of full cast and creative team below.)

What usually goes through your head right before students take the stage for a performance? 
As the company prepares to open, I'm excited to discover what we will learn about the play when we share our work with an audience.

Are there any unique challenges to putting on this production, other than the short time to prepare it?
A great deal of preparation goes on prior to January. Faculty, staff, and student leaders had already completed extensive work. Shannon Hickey serves as assistant director. Shannon and I had met with designers, and each other, prior to January. BSC Professor of Theatre Matthew Mielke had completed his set design in November; co-costume designers Patti Manning and senior Darby Burgess had also completed their design prior to E-Term.

Do you have a favorite scene from the play?
We're still in the early phases of rehearsal, so I'm very excited to see what students will bring to each scene. Noises Offshows how backstage drama can become an obstacle to bringing our best forward. I think that's a timely struggle, especially in today's heightened world of exaggeration, duplicity, and mixed messages.

How will the stage be transformed for this production? 
The audience can see an onstage final dress rehearsal of the play within a play, Nothing On, as well as a very problematic performance from the perspective of backstage, supported unique stage revolve system. BSC's faculty, staff, and student designers are creating a colorful world for our topsy-turvy comedy to inhabit. I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience this rip-snorter of a classic. The performances will be remarkable!

Noises Off Marquee


Name Role
Emily Buff Poppy Norton-Taylor
Darby Burgess Brooke Ashton/Vicki
Tyler Graham Garry LeJeune/Roger Tramplemain
Ryan Key Fredrick Fellowes/Phillip Brent
Van Looney Tim
Brennan Martignoni Lloyd Dallas
Jason Massey Selsdon Mowbray/Burglar
Megan Pecot Dotty Otley/Mrs.Clackett
Charlotte Schorle Belinda Blair/Flavia Brent


Name Role
Shannon Hickey Assistant Director
Elena Martin Company Manager
Charlie Freeman Publicity Maneger/Props Crew
Sarah Walker Stage Manager
Salma Crank Assitant to Stage Manager
Jackson Massey Props Crew Head
Tania Alverez ASM/Props
Sarah Beth Jones ASM/Props
Luke Otwell ASM/Props
Stephanie Pope ASM/Props
Darby Burgess Co-Costume Designer
Brittanie Harrow Wardrobe/Dresser
Abby Henken Costume Manager
Kynnedi Porter Wardrobe/Dresser
Matthew Torbert Wardrobe/Dresser
Alex Freeman Sound Design/Tech
Colton Hinderliter Lighting Designer
Will Vogel Light Crew Head
Ann Thomas Light Tech/Board Op
Sarah Mayhew Light Tech/Board Op
Kate Hatch Light Tech/Deck Electrician
Collin Neel Set Construction/Revolve Operator
Caroline Kirkconnell Set Construction/Deck Carpenter


Name Role
Alan Litsey Director
Matthew Mielkie Scenic Designer/Technical Director
Edwin Booth Asst. Tech. Director/Scene Shop Supervisor/Set Construction Head
Patti J. Manning Costume Designer/Coordinator
Judy E. Pandelis Box Office Manager

About Birmingham-Southern College:
Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution in Birmingham, Ala., founded in 1856 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It enrolls about 1,300 students from more than 30 states and 15 foreign countries.