Noises Off set changes prove complex

Diana Tarrazo

Junior set crew member Danny Liebster helps flip the Noises Off set around for the next act.

While many students were relishing in their last days of summer, those involved in Redwood’s drama program EPiC were already working on set production for their performance of Noises Off.

Noises Off, EPiC’s first production of the year, ran from Oct. 4-6 and 11-13, and included a cast of nine as well as 12 set crew members.

Noises Off is a comedy that follows the preparation and production process of a play. It consists of three acts and two intermissions—each of which requires a difficult set change. While for the first and third acts the audience sees a set designed to look like the inside of a house, for the second act the set is flipped around so the audience is looking at the set as it would be seen behind stage.

“The way it is written in the script, Noises Off has a full two-story house, and it is meant to be done in a bigger theater where you can have this full two-story house and have it on wheels and during the show you can just spin the set around,” said junior Tom Cline, the Noises Off Stage Manager.

However, according to Cline the Little Theater is too small for such an arrangement. Because of this, Cline said that rather than constructing a two-story house set, a one-story house set was built with a raised platform with stairs to act as the second story.

Cline said that the EPiC set crew worked on set construction for about three weeks, and that it was vital that the set was precise it in its measurements to ensure that everything would fit once it was flipped around.

However, Cline said that what was perhaps the most difficult part of the Noises Off set was not building it, but rather, flipping it around between acts.

“Basically what [the play] entails is that the entire set, with it the full length of the stage, has to get flipped completely around,” Cline said. “It was very intently and very precisely choreographed to make it all work because all of the flats and the platform have maybe five inches from the ceiling at most, so you can’t lift them too high.”

Cline said that the first time the crew practiced the set change, flipping the set around took 45 minutes. After practicing repeatedly, however, the crew was able to get it down to five minutes.

“It almost turned into a game for the crew because we wanted to see how fast we could get it while still being careful,” Cline said.

Set crew members work on moving and constructing the Noises Off set, which ran from Oct. 4-6 and 11-13.

According to Noises Off Director Britt Block, the set materials cost $500 and while the set of Noises Off was complex, what really set it apart from other EPiC sets was the effort that had to go into flipping it around.

“Last year for Servant of Two Masters we built an entire audience section,” Block said. “We do ambitious sets regularly. This one was visibly ambitious in a specific way because everybody watched what happened to it—it was a spectacular set. I would say that in terms of cost, it wasn’t more. In terms of set crew and what had to happen in order to make the show run every night it was very ambitious.”

Construction was overseen by set designer Ron Block, who also came up with the set idea.

Cline said that now that the show is done, the set has been dismantled.

“It was kind of sad, especially after the weeks spent building it just to take everything down,” Cline said. “But at the same time it is kind of therapeutic after the show to just be able to be like ‘and we’re done.'”