Do you remember what it’s like to laugh until you cry? Theatre Calgary’s season kicks off with Noises Off, one of the funniest plays ever written, and it sure to do just that. Mark Bellamy, director of the production, is known for his work in farce and is looking forward to making Calgarians laugh off any troubles or stress in their lives and simply let go. We spoke to Mark Bellamy, and got his take on directing Noises Off and why we all need a good laugh these days.
Why is Noises Off still so funny after all these years?
I think Noises Off will always be funny because at its heart it’s about a group of flawed but earnest artists desperately trying to get a play right while things go horribly wrong. Farce is comedy that is driven by complicated and often unlikely situations. Michael Frayn spent 20 years perfecting this script after its 1982 debut and he has honed it to perfection. He has layered in so many complicated, incredible and absurd situations to create obstacles for his characters that it is considered one of the best farces ever written.
Why do you love doing farce?
Farce (like most physically driven comedy) needs to be very precise, and I love working towards precision. At times directing a farce is almost mathematical, you need to understand rhythm, timing and choreography. The joy is in the details; every little thing has to be taken into consideration. For example, I just spent half a day figuring out exactly how each of the eight doors on the set has to function. Which way do they need to open? Left or right? Onstage or offstage? How does that impact the action of each moment? It’s that kind of crazy precise detail that excites me.
What are you looking forward to the most directing the show?
Almost all of this cast are great friends of mine, and nothing is more fun than being in a room full of people you love and laughing all day. I’m looking forward to all of us working to find the funniest choice, the most hilarious option for each moment. All of these actors are fearless and brave, and will go as far as they can, so that’s an exciting prospect! But mostly I’m looking forward to laughing a whole lot.
Why is laughter so important?
Watching the absurd antics of plays like Noises Off lifts us out of ourselves. When we can laugh at the ridiculous situations that these characters find themselves in, it helps us to realize that our day-to-day problems aren’t that bad. Laughter lets us release some of the worry and anxiety we carry, and look at the world through a different lens. I think that's something we all need a lot more of right now!