At the end of one of our many recent lockdowns, Glenbrook Players did what they do best. They committed to bringing arts back to the community through talented volunteers as a way of tackling the isolation that had enveloped the community.
I had recently been asked to take on the role of directing my first full production of Lend Me a Tenor and whilst plans to produce the show were still on, I would have to wait to tell my story. In the meantime, however, the opportunity arose to direct a small play about a group of actors living in Glenbrook who are deciding what play to perform to avoid financial ruin. At one point in the play, one of the characters asks “Why don’t we do…” and the other characters join in for the rest of the line “… a nice little farce.”
The words still ring in my mind as the cast and crew of Lend Me a Tenor finally get their opportunity to take the stage and tell the story of love, lust, and mistaken identity. Lend Me a Tenor, however, is not a nice little farce, it is a door-slamming, operatic tour de force that takes the breath out of the audience and actors alike.
In a farce, everything is at stake and the audience has to believe that everything is at stake and that the characters on stage will do anything in that situation to get what they want, and resolve everything that has gone wrong. It’s a challenge for both the director and actors alike to sell the premise. Farce has a history of asking the audience to buy into the absurdity of the situations that characters are thrown into, whether they be men pretending to be sister at a funeral, twins arriving in the same town without realising it or a drugged opera singer thought to be dead and the lengths that management would go to in order to prevent financial loss.
A quote I read early on in the process put it really simply. I am paraphrasing…
Farce is not comedy. Farce is normal people in funny situations. Comedy is funny people in normal situations.
Farce is not nice or little. It is the selling of the idea of a situation that is beyond the realm of normality and about the desperation of the characters and their actions. It’s at that point where all parties, both actor and audience believe in the situation and the characters, that laughs begin to take place. I believe we’re well on our way to achieving that purpose in November.
Lend Me a Tenor is coming to Glenbrook Theatre from November 11-19