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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: June ::
Re: *Comedy of Errors*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0674.  Tuesday, 17 June 1997.

[1]     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
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        Date:   Monday, 16 Jun 1997 08:36:59 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*

[2]     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 13:26:26 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
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Date:           Monday, 16 Jun 1997 08:36:59 -0400
Subject: 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*

Virginia M. Byrne asked about Comedy of Errors:

>any suggestions on staging the opening 'story" I.i?

I've long had a truly perverse production idea for the opening of the
play, which I've tried to persuade several friends directing the play at
various venues to employ (e.g. my regional colleague Jim Christy, who
directed it for Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival a few years ago), but
my idea so flies in the face of why theatres produce the play, and why
audiences come to see it, that no one has yet nibbled at the bait.

Why not stage the whole play after 1.1 as a fantasy, a la Ambrose
Bierce's "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge?"  Egeon learns that he is to
be put to death, and his quest to reconstitute his family will remain
unfulfilled.  The stage plunges into color, festivity, and comedic
disorder, and for the length of the play we see exactly what Egeon had
longed for:  the reconciliation of opposites, the reunion of lost
love-ones, the closure of wholeness, etc.  The final scene reaches its
conclusion, and then we're suddenly plunged back into the world of
life-and-death issues and capital punishment.  Egeon's head is
(literally) back on the block, and the axe falls.

Too much of a downer, obviously, for the average summer Shakespeare
Festival, with undergraduate interns dancing in "green shows" on the
lawn before the show, etc.  But, as I told Jim Christy, "hey, when I
staged a version of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell stayed dead, so what else
would you expect from me?"

Lugubriously,
Cary

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 Jun 1997 13:26:26 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0666  *Comedy of Errors*

Solutions to production problems depend so heavily on circumstances that
vary from production to production that I hesitate to address questions
about productions without knowing more about those circumstances.  With
that caveat, I will try to respond to the recent query about The Comedy
of Errors.  Several years ago, I directed a traveling production-eight
performers-intended for travel to high schools and college campuses.
Each set of twins was played by a single actor.  An on-stage stage
manager would fling to the actor, as he entered, a Red E or a red S-pun
intended-depending on which twin was to be represented.  This became a
running gag.  At the end, we introduced puppets when all four characters
had to appear on stage simultaneously.  Each Ephesus twin had a puppet
brother representing the Syracusian half.  The puppets were made closely
to resemble the human actors.  I'll say immodestly that the reactions of
many audiences were gasps of astonished joy and ovations.  One doesn't
often get applause like that.

As to the shipwreck, we did it story theatre style-enacting the events
as Aegon narrated them.  Our production was cut down to ninety
minutes-no intermission.

David Richman
 

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