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Behind-the-scenes work precedes Oak Forest play

Oak Forest High School students MaryKate Thom(from left) Tyler Nowicki BrandLipkowski listen as director John Stevens gives directiduring rehearsal for

Oak Forest High School students MaryKate Thoma, (from left) Tyler Nowicki and Brandon Lipkowski listen as director John Stevens gives direction during rehearsal for the play "Noises Off" Wednesday, October 10, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 20, 2012 6:12AM



Before the curtain goes up on a high school play, there’s a script that theater teachers or drama club supervisors follow.

Plenty of behind-the-scenes preparations go into performances such as those the Oak Forest High School drama group will put on this weekend when it stages “Noises Off.”

Securing the rights to the play comes first.

John Stevens, who is directing the Oak Forest play, had to pay $300 to Samuel French, Inc., a New York-based publishing company, for the rights to put on “Noises Off” three times.

Oak Forest’s drama group will perform the three-act, two-intermission comedy at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 and 20, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 21. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for students and senior citizens. The school is at 15201 S. Central Ave.

The story is about a theater director who struggles to get his stage musical through the rehearsals into a successful opening act. It’s considered a “play within a play,” and often breaks the so-called “fourth wall” between the stage and the crowd.

“It’s a different kind of humor, and it’s also a farce and misunderstanding,” Stevens said. “It’s one the audience relates to.”

Stevens said the play process begins early. He held auditions, callbacks and then cast the play the second week of school.

Nine actors were chosen. They spent a day reading the script, and also watched a film version starring Michael Caine, plus performances by other schools’ theater groups, to “get some perspective” before rehearsals began, he said.

After the initial overview, Stevens said students started rehearsing from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, plus on Sundays. From start to finish, it takes about eight weeks of practice for the students to master and then perform the play.

“For a fall play, you don’t want to run it too long,” Stevens said. “It starts to get stale.”

About two weeks before the show starts, students begin to run through dress rehearsals, Stevens said. Sound and lighting are added the final week before a performance, and students stay at school as late as 8 p.m. to get the show in order.

Stevens said he began to see the play come together last week, as the actors got more familiar with their roles.

“There’s a moment where the acting moves from technical to emotional,” Stevens said. “That’s where the believability comes in. I have fun when that moment happens.”



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