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A Modern Comedy of Errors, Fall 2016

Directed in the first Fall slot of 2016 at the University of Wyoming, my production of The Comedy of Errors was staged in just over three weeks, with auditions happening the first day of classes. The script was heavily cut and arranged, modernizing some of the language, rearranging some scenes, and even re-writing some of the lines that would not have gone over in the modern setting or with a modern audience. It incorporated video projections – the opening section included a parade of characters after the curtain speech, to introduce the key figures (up to about 1:40 in the following video, which was part of the projection content), which segued into a character channel surfing (the second half of the video) which introduced some of the characters and exposition, with a few cameos from faculty and our previous Acting for the Camera class.

Director’s statement and gallery follows:

Was ever such a lively house built on such a ridiculous foundation?
When Shakespeare gave us The Comedy of Errors in his First Folio
(a copy of which was recently seen on tour in Cheyenne), he took
this farcical form perhaps as far as it could ever be pushed, and its
regular productions around the world show that he somehow
makes it work.

 

Building off the Roman play The Menaechmi, Shakespeare
doubled-down on the premise – literally – making one set of
identical twins into two. Now not only do we need to believe that
there is a set of identical twins, with identical names, separated as
babies… but that there are two, and they’re sets of master/servant
in raised separate nation-states, reunited through a prolonged and
farcical series of accidents. Naturally, they all just happen to dress
similarly that day as well. All of this is packed in amongst a love
story and a near-tragedy of an estranged father searching for his
children in a hostile land, and then crammed into one of
Shakespeare’s most compact plays.

 

What we get is a glorious ride from a probably unbelievable
premise which will, if we let it, pay off in the believable struggles
and redemption of an ensemble of understandably overwhelmed
characters: Antipholus of Ephesus, his wife Adriana, and his slave
Dromio find they can no longer trust even their own perceptions
when the identical twins they didn’t know existed, Antipholus and
Dromio of Syracuse, come to town. The Syracusians (banned by law
from entering Ephesus, so trying to keep a low profile) have actually
been looking for their long lost twins for years, but have no idea
they’ve arrived at their very doorstep. Add to this the estranged
father who raised the Syracusian pair having come here looking for
them, also unaware of the presence of both of his children and their
slaves, stir the pot with a little nationalistic hostility, marital strife,
unpaid debts, and some class issues, and serve hot – it’s the recipe
for high-energy, highly theatrical hijinks!

 

I hope you enjoy tonight’s offering, and thank you for supporting
the arts in Wyoming.
— Kevin Inouye
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