The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare & Company’s Mad Love season continues... August 4 – September 2

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Director Cecil MacKinnon takes Shakespeare & Company audiences on a teacup ride through Ephesus, a far-away land of magic, music, and mistaken loves in William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Performances run in Founders’ Theatre August 4 through September 2, preceded by free Prelude performances outdoors at the Bankside Festival. Press Opening is Friday, August 13 at 7:30 pm. Founders’ Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and tickets may be purchased at (newly created by Studio Two in Lenox), or by calling the Box Office at (413) 637-3353, or by email at Senior, group, and student Rush discounts are available. One of Shakespeare’s earliest and most outrageous comedies of mistaken identity, The Comedy of Errors, running at just over two hours including intermission, opens with Aegeon, a merchant from Syracuse, arriving in Ephesus, a bustling and close-knit shipping port off the coast of Greece. Aegeon, the father of twin sons, has landed in Ephesus illegally and is quickly arrested and condemned to death unless a ransom is paid by sunset. However, before he goes to jail he recounts a tragic story that happened to him 33 years earlier… Aegeon named both his sons Antipholus, and bought another pair of twins, both named Dromio, to be their servants. Aegeon and his wife, Aemilia, were traveling home with their young sons and the servants when they were shipwrecked in a violent storm. Egeon could save only one Antipholus and one Dromio and has not seen the rest of his family since. Leaving Syracuse in search of their long-lost twin brothers, Antipholus and Dromio arrive in Ephesus, unaware that their father Egeon has also landed there on the same quest. Unknown to all of them, the Antipholus and Dromio (home team) who were lost at sea 33 years earlier, have been living in Ephesus for many years. Suddenly the boys from Syracuse find themselves greeted like old friends, Antipholus (visitor) finds that he has acquired a wife, and everyone in Ephesus seems to be behaving very strangely, which is when the true ‘comedy of errors’ ensues. “Comedy of Errors is a warm and saucy play of mistaken identities,” says MacKinnon. “Shakespeare was clearly influenced by the Italian Commedia dell'Arte players when he as a young man and wrote this short play. He takes the tradition of Greek and Roman comedies, spices it with Commedia antics, and mixes a hilarious brew. Our production takes the urban landscape of Ephesus as a starting point: a town full of “cozenage” where mysterious happenings are commonplace. The town is washed by the warm currents of the Mediteranean and is a backdrop for the themes of loss and wondrous recovery that resolve the fast-paced story. It is a very physical, sexy, and even romantic dash written mostly in delightful rhyming couplets.” MacKinnon brings together an experienced design team to build her vision of this Comedy of Errors. Kris Stone’s bold set weaves together the energetic, colorful, and busy world of a Mediterranean town, with the wonderment and mystery of an amusement park, where anything can happen. Oversized yellow teacups whirl around the stage carrying the actors, a human shipwreck unfolds, a mad band of cult dancers descend on the proceeding, and tiny bubbles mark the moment when Time goes backwards. Costume designer Arthur Oliver has also created a rich and warm palette for his designs, providing a classic silhouette for the actors in coral, red, pink, and gold embroidered fabrics from eastern India. The festive music is arranged by Jason Fitzgerald, and inspired by the compositions of prominent Cape Verdian musician, Bau. This is director Cecil MacKinnon’s 20th season with the Company, where she has directed and acted in dozens of productions. Directing credits include three outdoor Mainstage productions at The Mount: Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labor’s Lost, and Twelfth Night. She re-directed Romeo and Juliet for the Virginia Art Festival with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony using Prokovief's music and Shakespeare's text in a production with 25 actors and 75 musicians in 2001. Also at S&Co, Cecil directed workshops of The Winter's Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The One-Acts, and Much Ado About Nothing. Recent productions include Man of Mode at NYU, and Circus Flora at the Spoleto Festival USA and in touring seasons since 1986. Cecil was awarded a grant from the Citizens Council to travel to Eastern Europe, and she is a Master Teacher at NYU's Experimental Theater Wing. The 19-member cast brings back many Company veterans, several of whom can also be seen in the critically-acclaimed As You Like It now playing: Elizabeth Aspenlieder (Adriana), Jason Asprey (Angelo), Ariel Bock (Aemilia), Mel Cobb (Duke of Ephesus), David Demke (Dr. Pinch), Jonathan Epstein (Aegeon), James Robert Daniels (Second Merchant), Dan McCleary (Dromio of Ephesus). The cast, which also includes six Summer Performance Institute participants, is complemented by a strong group of newcomers to the Company: award-winning Boston actor Anne Gottlieb (Luciana), New York actor and playwright Michael Milligan (Antipholus of Syracuse), award-winning New Orleans actor Tony Molina (Dromio of Syracuse), and newest cast member George Hannah(Antipholus of Ephesus).
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