Plan for your holiday season now as the OSU Department of Theatre presents Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” Nov. 30, through Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m., and December 3, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets on sale now.
An OSU Theatre Mainstage Production, Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” is a gut-busting farce that is ideal for the entire family to enjoy together. Not one but two sets of identical twins attempt to reunite after a shipwreck separates them. Join the cast in the chaos as misdirection and mistaken identity fill every minute with clever antics.
Professor Lloyd Caldwell directs this hilarious production.
“Comedy is my specialty,” Caldwell said. “I earned a certificate from clown school. You can go to clown school to be a clown, but I went to study comedy. I have made that one of my areas of research for the last 23 years.”
The play is set in 1930s Greece. Caldwell believes it’s a time and place that will be familiar to the audience.
“Most people know the 1930s,” Caldwell said. “I chose the Greek Islands because they’re sunny and bright most of the year. Because the play happens all in one day, I was looking for those bright, sunny colors to underline the comedy — as opposed to 1930s Transylvania in the middle of winter.”
Assisting Caldwell in this comedy is award-winning Costume Designer Renee Garcia and Scene Designer and Props Master Maggie Gayle. Garcia and Gayle have teamed up to help enhance “The Comedy of Errors” visually. Garcia planned the production’s garments to match the setting and promote laughter.
“For this production, most people are in western European costumes, and that should be totally familiar,” Garcia said. “However, I think the most interesting costumes are on the two Dromio twins because they’re in traditional Greek costume. There’s a fun opportunity for texture and color, and I’m going over the top with trims. They’re not supposed to look sophisticated; they’re clowns. I think it’s a lot of fun to work with the clowns because there are no limits.”
Gayle is also working without limits, adding stage effects we haven’t seen this year, including multiple levels to the set design and doorways specifically crafted for the comedic effect.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff, like our working fountain,” Gayle said. “It was created by our students out of a My Size Barbie doll. We’re making it look like a carved Greek sculpture. There are a lot of stairs and different levels. I have a couple balconies. All the walls have some type of texture, like carved stone. It’s not ancient Greece, so there aren’t columns. But, it does mimic 1930s Greece, which is when we’re setting the play.”
Anitpholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus are identical twins separated since infancy after a shipwreck. Twenty-five years later, both twins unknowingly arrive in the same city, and the townspeople mistake their identities.
Amidst the confusion are the Dromio twins, who are life-long servants to the Antipholus twins. Senior Peyton Meacham plays Dromio of Syracuse, servant to Antipholus of Syracuse.
“Back story of both Dromios is that they’re twins,” Meacham said. “Our parents were poor, so we were sold to the Antipholus twins to be their servants forever. After a shipwreck, I stay with Antipholus of Syracuse, and Dromio of Ephesus stays with Antipholus of Ephesus.”
Meacham is a well-experienced performer. She’s had roles in several OSU Department of Theatre productions, including “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Spitfire Grill” and “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Despite her plethora of theatre knowledge, Meacham seeks to fine-tune her skills in comedy.
“I auditioned to learn how to be a clown,” Meacham said. “It’s something to keep in my actor’s tool belt. We’ve learned how to fall without hurting ourselves. We’ve learned how to trip up and down stairs and how to get hit with a bat. I have learned how to make foley noises — which are live sound effects — and I get a slide whistle. I auditioned to get as much experience as I could.”
Similar to Meacham’s desire to learn more about comedy, Tyler Burd auditioned to obtain an experience he’s desired for months.
“Ever since I read ‘The Comedy of Errors’ last semester, I was automatically attracted to the Dromios,” Burd said. “They’re clowns, and I’ve never gotten to play an overly comedic character. The Dromios are the comedic anchors of the play, and that’s what I want to be. I’ve wanted to play this role since I read it six months ago.”
Burd is also a senior in the OSU Department of Theatre, and plays Dromio of Ephesus, twin to Dromio of Syracuse. He has performed in the OSU Mainstage Productions “Almost, Maine” and “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Burd has some experience with comedy on the stage, and he enjoys the comical aesthetics generated by the cast in this production of “The Comedy of Errors.”
“What I think is funny is that Payton and I are a lot taller than the actors playing the roles of both Antipholi,” Burd said. “They’re both actually really short, and Peyton and I carry around bats for them to hit us with. So whenever they hit us, they usually have to stand on top of something to hit us over the head, or we have to bend down. I think that’s really funny.”
Casting isn’t the only hilarious antic Caldwell used to make this production original. He implements traditional vaudeville jokes for the audience’s amusement. When a character gets hit, foley effects are created live on stage though props.
“When somebody gets hit, we have a car horn,” said Caldwell. “It’s a bit of a showing the audience the theatre magic, but it’s all a part of the joke.”
It’s all about the jokes for the audiences; the goal is to bring everyone laughter and entertainment. Kelton Neals, another senior in the Department of Theatre, plays the character of Angelo, a goldsmith. Angelo is a tough, masculine and burly character, which are fun traits for Neals to alter for a comedic effect.
“When I first read over Angelo’s role, I read him as this big, tough mafia guy,” Neals said. “But, when we did our first read through, I switched his voice into a higher register and moved with a quicker pace. I also made him scared of women in a way. A lot of the women in this show are empowering, and Angelo is a work-oriented guy. He has his goals, and he’s afraid of empowering women. Or maybe he’s just shy.”
Neals has performed in multiple plays since his debut at the Department of Theatre. He starred in “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Shipwrecked!”. As a performer, he’s learned to not only have goals for his continued growth, but also for the audience.
“I want the audience to be entertained no matter where they look on the stage,” Neals said. I don’t believe there are any blank spots, and that’s what is so great about having Lloyd as a director. When he sees a blank spot, he wants to put a bit there.”
This comedy is sure to get the biggest giggle out of even the youngest member in the audience. Shakespeare wrote this play for the masses using different levels of comedy for all.
“This show has something for everybody, I think,” Burd said. “It has different styles of comedy. There’s wit in it and physical comedy from the 20th century. And Shakespeare’s comedy, jokes from 400 years ago that are still funny. I think there has got to be something for everybody if this play has lasted this long.”
Get your tickets soon, before they sell out, by visiting theatre.okstate.edu or purchase your tickets at the theatre box office in 121 Seretean Center for the Performing Arts.
For more information about “The Comedy of Errors” or the OSU Department of Theatre, call 405-744-6094.