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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

I Ought To Be In Pictures

Directed for the Rocky Mountain Summer Theatre in Wyoming in 2016, this production starred one professional equity actor, one recent graduate of our program at UW, and one current student. We had one week of full-time (equity schedule) rehearsals and one week of run.

Legacy of Light, Fall 2015

Because I also used it as a capstone project to finish my Teacher Certification with the National Michael Chekhov Association, this production and my process on it were more heavily documented than might otherwise have been done. You can view this material HERE, including an image gallery, rehearsal footage, program, and my extensive analysis document.

LEGACY OF LIGHT, to me, embodies so much of what theatre is for. It
entertains with humor, passion, and excitement, it educates historically, socially,
and scientifically, and it inspires us intellectually and creatively to examine our
own beliefs and ideas. What’s more, it does so in a tight package built solely on
love – not dogmatic, not confrontational or accusatory, but loving.
The true-life story of Émilie and Voltaire is well worth digging into thoroughly,
a process I’ve greatly enjoyed as I’ve sought out the headwaters of this play. Their
passion, their adventures, and their contributions are so inherently theatrical it’s
sometimes hard to see how Zacarías chose what to leave out. The Enlightenment
ideas they helped create in turn shaped our nation and society, that of Olivia and
Peter and Millie and Lewis, and of the University of Wyoming. Émilie, partly
filtered through Voltaire’s observations, came to define philosophical optimism,
and his firm beliefs on justice and society, formed during his travels and tribulations
throughout Europe, are clearly manifest in the foundational documents of our
nation, and of our “equality state.”
The process of rehearsing this play has challenged me to examine my own values
in a very Enlightenment manner, balancing but not segregating intellect, passion,
and will, a desire to personally create a refined aesthetic with the desire to manifest
a just democratic process, all guided by a wish to illuminate society with the
potential of ideas. I hope you enjoy the show, and may you find it sheds some
light on your own journey.

 

Student Work: Movement for Actors

A few sample autocours from the Spring 2016 Movement for Actors class:

 

The Liar ‘translaptation’ by David Ives

David Ives’ “translaptation,” as he calls it, of Corneille’s 1644 comedy The Liar treads familiar turf for actors. We’ve made a profession out of taking other people’s stories and making them our own . . . and of lying.

I chose this play before joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming, in part because the dialogue alone makes for an entertaining evening. To my relief, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a talented cast that can explore with me a language of physical comedy to support the wit of Ives’ anachronistically playful verse and the comedic ridiculousness of Corneille’s plot (itself adapted from an earlier Spanish production).

The Liar is rare ordinance in today’s theatrical cannon; it is set in a time between the worldliness of Shakespeare and the transcendent indulgence of Restoration theatre, fleshed out with modern sensibilities but given voice through rhyming iambic pentameter. It’s theatre at its most essentially theatrical: Presentational, stylized, and contrived (and re-contrived) in all the best of ways. My hope is that it will prove an accessible primer for anyone intimidated by Shakespearean-style verse (which we’ll have a glorious wealth of this spring at the University of Wyoming), while remaining a stand-alone theatrical experience that is intelligent without being pretentious, approachable without pandering, and is as hilarious and fun to watch as it’s been to rehearse.

Student Work

 

 

A couple of the final scenes for the Junior level Advanced Physical Acting class at VCU, Spring 2012. These are devised pieces created by the students, based on music tracks (each group was given two options to choose from), and incorporating their learning throughout the year, potentially including topics such as contact improvisation, actor training with masks, centers and leads, period movement, stage combat, dance, Alexander, Laban, Suzuki, Boal, and more.

Images from earlier in the same class, from units on Lecoq’s mask training and Boal’s Forum Theatre.

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The Clink by Stephen Jeffreys

The Clink became a fitting metaphor for my artistic life while in graduate school; It was both prison & playground, a glorious (and demanding) mess that couldn’t settle on just one theme. Its questions are well suited to a campus community: The struggle to find your role in life, the work of a performer, the complexity of the various politics & scheming and the trades that come with patronage, the mix of humor & occasionally tragic struggle, contrasting desires for independence & societal accomplishment, and the intersections of all ends of society.

This production emphasized for me the pleasure of directing in an educational environment. Not only did I already have a good working relationship with some of the actors (mostly undergraduate students at VCU), and a sense for what sort of coaching and direction they would respond to, but it provided a context in which I could indulge mutual interest. The emphasis on process as much as product meant I could explore themes, acting approaches, and dramaturgical discussion that I simply would not have time for in a professional, results-driven environment. It also provided an excellent way to test and guide the students’ synthesis of their lessons outside of the classroom, without which the education we provide in our courses would be meaningless.

 

Additional images can be seen in a slideshow on YouTube.

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In The Red Hood: Freshman Discovery Project

A short devised piece that was a part of the 2011 Freshman Discovery Project, 11 devised scenes directed by graduate students and acted by Theatre freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University. Featuring the talents of Olivia Begley (Red Hood), Max Ehrlich (The Predator), and Shane Moran (The Woodsman).

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