BWW Interview: 6 Questions with Guthrie Theater NOISES OFF's Nathan Keepers
The Guthrie Theater's current production of NOISES OFF has audiences rolling in the aisles but it's not all fun and games - it just looks like it. The cast and crew had meticulous work to get the show ready and work hard to keep it fresh night in and night out.
Cast member Nathan Keepers, who looks MUCH too young to have been around since the days of Jeune Lune (see below, and the answer to this question of age I had!) is a consummate professional and shares more of what it's like to be a part of a hilarious farce where there's more than meets the eye.
In NOISES OFF, you play director Lloyd Dallas of the fictional play within a play, NOTHING ON, who gets more than a little involved personally with your cast. Can you describe a little of Lloyd's perspective on the chaos of the play and how Lloyd's involvement changes the direction of the show?
Lloyd sort of works as the straight man in the play. He ultimately doesn't have much control over the thing, which is pretty realistic from a director's perspective. Playwright Michael Frayn wrote that part, along with the whole play, really well. As for his involvement, it's another kink in the chain. Farce is built on misinterpretation, lots of misinterpretations. You have to string together a lot of strong links that can then get tangled up. Every character serves a purpose in this.
You're also the Movement Director for the play. Can you share what that involved and what it's like helping choreograph the movement of the farce with all its physicality?
The show is a machine. You spend a lot of the time working the physical bits by the numbers. This kind of work is both fun and laborious to put together. You need to work it really methodically and drill, drill, drill to get into your body. Once you do that, you can start to play.
Does the craziness that happens throughout the show ever get hard to keep track of? Do you and the other actors ever find you've mixed up things and have to improvise like the fictional NOTHING ON cast?
Knock on wood. We haven't had anything big like that happen yet. There's always little tiny moments here and there that are probably imperceptible to an audience, but that's the fun part for us. And that's the fun part of theater!
How true! What is your favorite part of the play (NOISES OFF)? What's the most challenging thing for you?
There's a moment in Act 3 after a lot of craziness in the front end. Kate Loprest (Brooke), Johnny Wu (Garry) and Remy Auberjonois (Freddie) have all just left after several bits that kill. Laura Jordan (Belinda) is left out on stage alone. We have this first moment of quiet, and she does the most impeccable slow burn to the audience that sends people over the edge. It's beautiful and hilarious.
Probably the most challenging thing, and a fun challenge, is keeping the show fresh. Eight shows a week for many weeks is a lot. You have to work the muscle of keeping on your toes and not sitting back.
You spent many years working with Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis. Can you describe for the readers what working at Jeune Lune was like, and how that impacted you?
I could write a book on this question. I was there for 11 seasons starting in high school. (Editor's note: A-ha!) Theatre de la Jeune Lune is what formed me. I can't express how lucky I am to have been a part of something revolutionary, influential, original and absolutely unparalleled.
You're currently involved with The Moving Company - how closely aligned with the Jeune Lune work is what you're doing there? What projects can readers expect to see after the current 4 SEASONS?
I'm a Co-Artistic Director of The Moving Company along with Dominique Serrand and Steven Epp. Dominique was a founder of Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Steven was a long time company member and Artistic Director. When the company closed, the three of us decided to continue the tradition of making new work. It's what we do. There's really no way that our work isn't influenced by Jeune Lune; it's intrinsic. But, I would say that Moving Company has built its own philosophy and aesthetic over the years. Truly the people and the moment are what guide making art. That's what we try to follow. As for what's next; we have a project planned with The Minnesota Orchestra this summer. Stay tuned for that. And we will be creating something brand new for the fall of 2019.
Photo: Nathan Keepers, courtesy of Guthrie Theater.