Opening a Can of Sardines: An Inside Scoop with the Director

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Your friendly neighborhood dramaturg! 

Your friendly neighborhood dramaturg who?

It’s me, Aspen Thompson, dramaturg for Noises Off! 

...I better leave the comedy to the cast. 

What is a dramaturg? 

Well, the job of a dramaturg varies from show to show. For Noises Off, I’ve put my nose to the grindstone and dug up all sorts of research thus far. From the UK in 1982 to what was on the radio to British comedy, you name it, I’ve researched it! I’m also around to make sure the vision of the director is consistent throughout the design and production and everything in between. Speaking of directors...I sat down with the phenomenal Laurie Harrop-Purser to ask her about the production.


How have you navigated directing a British play for an American Audience? 

“Hopefully well enough for it to be funny. Certainly British humor is different than American humor. I mean, we’re putting English accents on and we’re certainly doing our best to mimic the proper, the sophisticated...what we as loud Americans expect to come from Britain. That sophisticated air, we’re seeing it crumble. So what I have to do is mimic them, mimic that so that Americans see that, yes, that’s where we are. And then crumble it in a way that makes Americans laugh because that’s who I’m doing it for.”


Is there anything that makes this production special or different from another production of Noises Off?

“I guess the surprising participation of the tech crew. [Buy a ticket and find out what that intriguing and mysterious phrase means…] I don’t know if it’s going to be different, except that it’s our interpretation of it and so, that’s the neat thing about live theatre, is that everyone’s interpretation of a play is going to be different. That’s why you can watch the same production over and over in different places done by different people because it can be a different interpretation. Surprising things will happen.”


Did you feel intimidated at all to take on this project? 

“I felt intimidated to do Act II! Because it’s done, you know, pretty much without lines. The throughline of the story of Act II is not done with lines, it’s done silently. And actually the most intimidating part of the play and also, it has been the most fun to create. And to create the communication of it without words. That has been a total ball.”


Have there been any surprises along the way for you as the director? 

“I’m always surprised by some of the things the actor’s come up with. It always surprises and delights me. And so I will have very strong ideas about what something is going to look like and then they will do something and then it’s like I’m throwing out what I planned because that is so much more delightful.”


Why should people come and see this show?

“Because they will be missing out in a major way if they don’t! Why would you not come see this show whenever it’s produced?”

And some final thoughts from Laurie:

“The whole point in this play is that it’s funny. An extremely funny farce. That’s why people do it cause it is delightful to do, it’s delightful to watch, it’s just fun.”

You heard it here first, folks! Right from the director’s mouth. If this piqued your interest (and my cheesy joke didn’t scare you away) moonwalk on down to the UVU box office or fire up that search engine and buy your ticket now! Cheers!