Olathe Civic Theatre Association | A Visit with UNNECESSARY FARCE Director Bill Pelletier
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A Visit with UNNECESSARY FARCE Director Bill Pelletier

13 Jun A Visit with UNNECESSARY FARCE Director Bill Pelletier

In two different interviews (one after opening and one prior to rehearsal) we caught up with Bill Pelletier, director of UNNECESSARY FARCE, who is fast becoming known for his meticulous and successful comedies. We wanted to learn more about his process and the show – which may or may not include a fun and unorthodox blocking method. Also included, are his director’s comments from the program at the end of the article. Enjoy!

Interview One: The Process – How do you DO it?? (Interview occurred after opening of the show.)

Bill Pelletier (center back) with the cast and crew of UNNECESSARY FARCE first read-through, May 2018.

Q: Bill, you are becoming known for your skill as a director of farce and a master of blocking for split-second timing and successfully getting the laughs. You help your casts make it look very easy, when it clearly isn’t. Have you developed a process for achieving this and, if so, what is it?

A: Wow. Quite a compliment, but it really starts with getting a cast that you trust and that has strong comedic ability. Letting them create and make suggestions during the rehearsal process has always proven valuable in the end product. Rehearsal should be a time of creating and experimenting in the early stages. I may have a scene blocked on paper, but putting it on its feet always opens up avenues for the cast to try something different. I’ve always emphasized pacing and timing. If that fails, the whole scene fails. We’re aiming for fast-paced controlled chaos. If you’re exhausted after the show and the audience is laughing, it’s a job well done.


Q: We’ve heard that you’re a bit like Hitchcock, meticulously blocking out every move before you even go into auditions. Are the rumors true? 

A: I do. And some of it usually changes.


An example of Bill’s very early pre-blocking/planning process. 🙂

Q: Didn’t you once block an entire show with toys?  Also… how many farces have you directed?

A: I think this is my 5th farce directing — the blocking with toys (see photo) was DIE MOMMIE DIE at the former Off Center Theatre, now MTH.


Interview Two: About UNNECESSARY FARCE, Donuts, and OCTA. (Interview occurred before rehearsals.)

Q: So, do you only do shows with donuts in them now? But really, you just starred in the dramatic comedy SUPERIOR DONUTS earlier this spring (also at OCTA), and now you’re directing a very funny farce (that also has donuts). How do you approach this show?   

Actress Jessica Franz toting donut boxes in UNNECESSARY FARCE – 2018. Photo by Shelly Stewart Banks.

A: I think more shows could benefit from featuring donuts.  I imagine Blanche DuBois would have been a lot less unhappy in STREETCAR if she had a nice fresh cruller or two.  Seriously, I’m approaching this show with the thrill of wanting to do it since I first saw a production several years ago.   I laughed a lot.  A lot. Just ask the people who sat near me.  OCTA seemed the perfect intimate space for this show, and a good follow up to the other farces OCTA audiences have enjoyed in recent seasons.  Getting to do something you love, sharing the rehearsal process with a talented cast and bringing a laugh-filled escape to audiences is even better than a warm donut.


Q: What do you like about this show? Anything audiences who saw SUPERIOR DONUTS might like in UNNECESSARY FARCE?

A: I love the fast pace of this show, the characters and the “dual dialogue” of the conversations that take place simultaneously in the separate rooms, but fit together pretty hysterically.  If you loved the variety of characters and laughs in SUPERIOR DONUTS, we’re going to take that a step further and give you a great evening of laughs for your night out at OCTA.


Q: Which characters or moments in the show do you really look forward to?

A: I don’t suppose “all of them” is a specific enough answer, but it’s true.  Each character has a special quirk or moment that I love to see.  I love the rehearsal process, especially for a show like this to get to create and discover new and different moments along with the actors.


Cast of UNNECESSARY FARCE – 2018. Photo by Shelly Stewart Banks.

Q: Tell us a little about the actors. Anyone new to you?

A: I’ve only worked with two of the cast previously, but have seen and enjoyed the work of everyone involved.  When there’s a lot of laughter among just our cast and production team when we first got together to read through the script the first time, you know you’re in for a fun ride.


Q: What would you say to brand new OCTA audience members about coming to see your show?

A: To brand new OCTA audience members?  “Where have you been?”, “Welcome”. “Come in and laugh with us for a while”.  And to anyone who continues to attend and support live theatre, “Thank you”.   


Q: Anything else you’d like us to know about you or the show?    

A: Tickets are on sale now!  Bring friends!


Q: Give us the snappy tagline for UNNECESSARY FARCE if different than the one we’re already using.

A:“At Last! Another comedy completely different from some of the other comedies which aren’t quite the same as this one”.


Kansas City area director and actor, Bill Pelletier – 2018. Photo by Rita Marks.

Director’s Notes for UNNECESSARY FARCE

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

I love going to see friends perform in a show.  I’m glad I didn’t give up the chance several years ago to go see some friends perform in this new show I’d never heard of called UNNECESSARY FARCE.  They not only gave me a great evening of constant laughter, but planted the desire to one day work on this show myself.

OCTA seemed the perfect space and group to present the “show I’ve been wanting to do for a while now”.  Fortunately, they agreed. So began the task of finding our cast and production team and beginning the rehearsal process to bring some escapism and laughter to you, our audience.

I also want to publicly thank our talented, hard-working, creative, all-around-good-eggs cast and production staff.  You’ve made the process truly a pleasure.

I’d encourage you to do two things after you’ve enjoyed our performance:

-Please continue to support live theatre and the arts.  They are so vitally important.

-Tell your friends and send them our way, or better yet, come back and see it again with them.

“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.” – Woody Allen (and still the best reason we’re not selling milk at the concession stand for this show.)


UNNECESSARY FARCE continues Friday June 15 and Saturday June 16 at 8pm and closes Sunday June 17 at 2pm.

Tickets/Info at: http://olathetheatre.org/unnecessary-farce/


Watch Bill and the cast during tech week, at their silliest, in this video by board member Charlotte Gilman — this edition of Taking Stage at OCTA will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and likely ZERO insight into the story. 🙂

See/read the bios and headshots of our cast and production team!

Read the five star review by Bob Evans of KC Applauds.

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