No rain, guaranteed: A 2nd chance to see ‘Comedy of Errors,’ but this time inside
Just call it “The Comedy of Errors: The Inside Edition.”
Actually, Woodward Shakespeare Festival is calling its limited-run production of the Shakespeare classic a “rain-check version.” That’s because of wet spring weather during the production’s original run at Woodward Park.
Related story: Interrupted review: ‘Comedy of Errors’ shows promise at Woodward Park
And: For Woodward Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors,’ an earlier start to the season and a new face as director
Now it returns, this time indoors and air-conditioned. (Yay!) The original director, Ellicia Elliott, is from out-of-state, so Aaron Spjute stepped in to transition the show from outdoors to indoors. I asked him about the experience. Here he is in his own words:
His first look
I first saw this particular version of “The Comedy of Errors” the night the lightning halted the show halfway through. I loved what I had seen and was determined to see it again to see “the rest of the show.” I saw it the night before it was supposed to close (and as it turned out, due to rain the closing night, I saw the final show).
As I watched it I just kept thinking how much I enjoyed the direction with the emphasis on the comedy through the exaggerated actions of the characters in such absurd situations. I remember thinking to myself, I think I would have directed it in a very similar way. And I was sad that more people did not get the opportunity to see it. So when I was asked if I’d be willing to help the same show transition into the indoor space of the Severance studio at Cal Arts for the Rain-Check performances, I was thrilled.
The goal has been to keep this show and all the characters as close to the original staging and direction as possible. This was made possible as the entire cast agreed to return without any parts needing replacements. As the scenic and lighting elements used were very basic and minimalist, those will remain just as simple. The focus remains on the words and the actions. The sound cues, costumes, and props are all retained.
The show will also be run non-stop without an intermission as it was done before. It runs about 75 minutes.
The biggest change is that while the previous acting area out at the park stage was quite wide and had stairs to an upper lever, the new acting area at Severance is much more narrow and deep and will not have any stairs or upper level. But as the stairs and upper levels were not used much in the original staging, there will not be much notable change there. I have decided to sit the audience on three sides as I did with “Measure for Measure” last year. (I enjoy getting as many audience members as close to the action as possible.)
Using a thrust stage has necessitated some modest re-staging of a few of the larger group scenes which we have done, and has meant directing the actors be more aware of playing to all three sides of the audience. I have kept the direction to have the characters move through the audience and interact with them as they did before.
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Ultimately I hope that all who come to see the show again will recognize it as the same great show they saw at the park. Being indoors means that it may be better lit, easier to hear, and a more comfortable experience for the audience. Mostly I hope people enjoy it and laugh at all the funny bits laced throughout the show.
For those who think Shakespeare is hard to understand or boring, seeing this play will change their minds. The play is family friendly and free (donations are encouraged), and I hope that being indoors means that those who may normally not be able to get out to the park to see the productions there will be able to come and enjoy this Shakespeare production.