NYC actor John Seidman prefers regional theater, e.g. NOISES OFF at Chautauqua

Jul 7, 2017

New York City-based Equity actor John Seidman actually prefers acting "on the road" in regional theater, such as the summer program at the Chautauqua Institution, to much of what is happening "back home" in Manhattan. And that's why he keeps coming back to the Bratton Theater, this summer for his eighth season, appearing in a leading dual role as "Selsdon/Burglar" in a British farce by Michael Frayn called NOISES OFF.

The title, by the way, comes from a British script convention where the stage direction "Noises Off" requires sounds to be made offstage during a theatrical production, sounds that are intended to be heard by an audience, indicating that something else is happening concurrent to what we are seeing on stage. And that, according to Seidman, perfectly describes the play within a play that is NOISES OFF, on stage at Chautauqua's air conditioned Bratton Theater through July 16. 

Actor John Seidman (with hat) as "Selsdon/Burglar" in NOISES OFF at the Bratton Theater.
Credit Chautauqua Theater Company

John Seidman, in his eighth season at Chautauqua, spoke a few weeks back with WNED|WBFO's Peter Hall, in advance of the opening.

In the play NOISES OFF we meet a troupe of actors who are rehearsing a fictitious 1970s popular British style sex farce (remember NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH?) called "Nothing On" in which some are trying to have sex and others are trying, perhaps inadvertently, to prevent that. It involves quick entrances and exits through seven doors and one window, entrances made usually at the worst possible moment. Act I involves the dress rehearsal, Act II involves a performance early in the run, and Act III should be the smoothest and best rehearsed performance of "Nothing On," but it is a disaster. There is a lot of physical comedy, some of it involving sardines. And the Bratton has provided a stunning set that revolves 180 degrees in Act II, suddenly taking the audience backstage.

For NOISES OFF Seidman plays the alcoholic actor "Selsdon" who in "Nothing On" has the role of the "burglar." The intricacies involved in preventing (unsuccesfully) "Selsdon" from getting a drink are a study in comic stagecraft.

Tickets to NOISES OFF are $35 and seating can be reserved online at or by calling (716) 357-6250. Your ticket is also your gate pass for 4 hours before and 4 hours following the performance. Chautauqua Theater Company's Summer of 2017 season includes NOISES OFF (6/30 to 7/16), DETROIT 67 (7/21 to 7/30), ROMEO AND JULIET (8/11 to 8/18) as well as two New Play Workshops: BIRTHDAY CANDLES (8/1 to 8/4), and BUILDING THE WALL (8/2-8/5).

Information about the Chautauqua Institution can be found at For a conversation with WBFO's Brian Meyer and Chautauqua Institution president Michael Hill go here