Thoughts on “Noises Off”

BAT is an all volunteer theater.  So, all of this happened around other work.

“Noises Off” is the first full show since the fire at BAT’s theater location.  When the fire happened on December 10, 2013, BAT had a production of “Coney Island Christmas” up and running.  BAT was able to move that show to a new location and re-block and re-tech it in just 3 days.  BAT did not miss a performance.  That was no small feat.

Once “Coney Island Christmas” closed in late December, BAT got underway looking for a space to perform “Noises Off.”  BAT had planned that “Noises Off” would take place in BAT’s theater.  However, even there the seating was going to be moved, with the set being put on the floor at the back of the theater, the furthest away from the stage, and the seats put against the stage and turned 180 degrees.  The reason for that configuration was that the set was too tall for BAT’s stage.

The “Noises Off” set is  just over 16 feet tall.  BAT’s stage is just 13 feet tall.  Nevertheless, after many meetings with the set designer, Albie Clamenti, it was decided BAT could put the set for “Noises Off” in the BAT theater.

Then there was the fire.  All bets were off.  For some time, it was not known if the City of Burien, BAT’s landlord, would rebuild BAT’s theater space after the fire.  BAT got involved in the political process to try and encourage the rebuild.  100 BAT-fans wrote emails to the Burien City Council asking the Council to rebuild.  This outpouring of support did not go unnoticed by the City Council.  Just recently, the decision was made to rebuild BAT’s theater space. 

While it was still an open question whether BAT would have a home again or not, the search for a space to perform “Noises Off” was underway.  The space BAT had used for “Coney Island Christmas” did not have high enough ceilings.  The ceiling there was just 12 feet high.

BAT wanted to stay in Burien, its home for the last 34 years, with roots in Burien reaching back 59 years.  (BAT arose out of a theater group called Workshop Theatre, which started in 1955.)  The number of places that could accommodate a 16 foot set, and might be available, in Burien are quite limited.  BAT quickly scoped them out and the list narrowed to 4.  Then the hard work began.  BAT met with the landlords and the City of Burien on each space.

Over the weeks all but one space had problems that BAT could not overcome.  Some problems were financial, either the rents or the build-outs would be too expensive for BAT to cover.  Some were permit problems with the City or the Fire Department that could not be overcome.  By last Friday, February 7, 2014, BAT ended the negotiations on price and got the key to the old Staples space, 14907 4th Avenue SW, in Burien.

Then the set, which had been built off-site in a temporary build space, had to be moved into BATs temporary performance space and reassembled and completed.  It still needs painted, although the base coat is down.  On Tuesday of this week the actors started to rehearse on the set, which makes painting it much harder.

BAT’s temporary performance space was never a theater.  It had been a retails store.  So, there are no theater lights, sound equipment or lobby / concessions area.  All of those are being created.

Although BAT has a liquor license at its theater space, that is not transferable to a new space without going through a months long application process.  BAT does not have time to do that for this space, so there will be no liquor in concessions.

Of course everything at BAT’s theater that is needed for the show, from extension cords to paper cups for concessions all have to move over to temporary space.  That is happening a little at a time, but happening nonetheless.

Lights, curtains, the sound computer and light board all had the be cleaned after the fire to be used in the temporary performance space.  Some of that is still going on, but delivery is promised before the show opens.

To say moving “Noise Off” has been a challenge is an understatement.  Everything was up in the air.  It took many many meetings, calls and emails.  All of which took away from the job of getting the show up.  Lucky BAT has a great director and cast for this show.  No one doubted the space would come together.

The designers took on the “unknowns” of this project and ran with the ball.  It is tough for set, lights and sound not to know know where they will be as they get ready for the show.  Once again, as with “Coney Island Christmas,” no one complained and they all put their heads down and made this work.  Probably the one who saw her workload explode the most was the managing director of BAT, Maggie Larrick.  She has been running non stop on getting this all to happen.

But at this point, less one permit from the City of Burien, it is safe to say “Noises Off” will open at 8 PM on February 21, 2014, and complete its 5 week run at 14907 4th Avenue SW, in Burien.  That is amazing.

BAT has heard from some of its theater friends who have asked why BAT took this on rather than canceling the show, and others who are amazed at what BAT has been able to do around the fire.  As the artist director, all I can say is sometimes it is good not to know how much work a project will be when one first takes it on.

All of those involved with this project are excited, getting ready for a spectacular opening night and great run of “Noises Off.”  There will a searchlight and a party on opening night.  Come for the show and stay for the party!  TICKETS!

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1 Response to Thoughts on “Noises Off”

  1. Shelli P says:

    It is a great story! Well done on getting everything together. I’m so glad that the show will go on! Thank you.

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