Director talks 'Present Laughter' play, on stage until Sept. 17
Bemidji Community Theater's production of "Present Laughter" begins this weekend. Area Voices Producer Andrew Dziengel interviews Director Vicki Stenerson about the play.
BEMIDJI — “Community theater is special because it is done by community members for community members,” said Vicki Stenerson, director of the upcoming Bemidji Community Theater production.
In a recent conversation on the KAXE Morning Show, Stenerson says she believes community theater is alive and well in Bemidji. Her next production is Noel Coward’s Present Laughter.
“I love theater. I love all parts of theater.”Vicki Stenerson
The play follows Gary Essendine. He’s a successful but self-obsessed comedy actor, who deals with women who want to seduce him, a long-suffering secretary and wife, a young playwright, and a mid-life crisis.
Stenerson has been trying to put on Present Laughter for three years.
“My favorite part of theater are plays that have witty intelligent dialogue,” she said, a staple of a Noel Coward play.
When asked about the challenges of putting on a British play for an American audience, especially when set in a different era, Stenerson said, “You kind of have to adjust — not the dialogue necessarily, but the inflections and gestures to give the American audience an idea of what you’re talking about.”
Stenerson has been a part of community theater for almost 30 years.
“I love theater. I love all parts of theater,” she said. She has done every part in a production; acting, directing, light design, stage manager and costume repairs, and it has influenced her directing style.
“Once you have done the other technical aspects of the show you have a better idea of how long it’s going to take and what the limitations are in the space you have and the equipment you have,” Stenerson said.
Present Laughter is a play about working in theater. Many forms of arts end up being about art, like a play within a play. Stenerson believes it’s a case of writing what you know.
"We know it so we can present it with the knowledge behind it to make it real. I think that’s what attracts us,” she said.
What Stenerson hopes people take away from the production of Present Laughter is an understanding of a different world outside of Bemidji, and of course, that people have fun.
Present Laughter is at the Bemidji Community Theater Performing Arts Center 7 p.m. Sept. 8-9 and 14-16, and 2 p.m. Sept. 10 and 17.
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