When watching a play, an audience member might not ordinarily think that inanimate objects could be as vital as the characters themselves. However, the doors in Lend Me a Tenor have proven just as essential as the eight characters in Ken Ludwig’s farce. Upon moving into the Newhart Family Theatre and rehearsing with the doors for the first time, the actors learned how much of a challenge it was to work with these additional “characters.” After one run of the show, director Jonathan Wilson reminded the actors, “The sound[s] of the doors are a character unto themselves.” Indeed, it’s all about perfecting the comedic bits, which often include operating the doors with very specific timing. One door closes, another door opens. This is a common trope in Ludwig’s farce.
It is not only the doors that are central to the play’s comedy; it is also how the characters use these doors. After one of the designers stated, “Every knock sounds the same,” Wilson urged the actors to think about that statement in relation to their character objectives. This direction inspired the actors to become more creative in their use of the doors. Hard knocks, lyrical knocks, many knocks, few knocks–there is truly an endless amount of ways the actors can convey their emotions before even entering the room.
“When am I frantic? When am I not? The knock should communicate what you are thinking and feeling at that moment in time,” Wilson told the actors.
As Assistant Director/Dramaturg for Wilson’s production this semester, it has astonished me how much you can learn from a show throughout the rehearsal process. Everything from the delivery of lines, motivation of characters, and interpretations of scenes can change from week to week as we discover more about the show, its characters, and the intent of the playwright.
After one weekend of shows, the Lend Me a Tenor cast and crew is ready to do it all again. Farce aims to entertain the audience, and we hope that our Lend Me a Tenor audiences are indeed entertained.