Comedy of Errors

By Aune, M. G. | Shakespeare Bulletin, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Comedy of Errors


Aune, M. G., Shakespeare Bulletin


Comedy of Errors Presented by the Pittsburgh Public Theater at the O'Reilly Theater, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. October 4-November 4, 2007. Directed by Ted Pappas. Scenic design by James Noone. Costume design by Martha Louise Bromelmeier. With Tom Schaller (Solinus, Dr. Pinch), Alex Coleman (Egeon), Doug Mertz (Antipholus of Ephesus), Darren Eliker (Antipholus of Syracuse), Tom Ford (Dromio of Ephesus), Nat DeWolf (Dromio of Syracuse), Marcus Stevens (Balthasar), Ken Bolden (Angelo), Ingrid Sonnichsen (Emilia), Helena Ruoti (Adriana), and Amy Landis (Luciana).

King Lear Presented by the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre at the Charity Randall Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. April 9-26, 2008. Directed by James J. Christy. Scenic design by David P. Gordon. Costume Design by Pei-Chu Su. With Dakin Matthews (Lear), Larry John Meyers (Gloucester), David Whalen (Edgar), PaulTodaro (Edmund), Mat DeCaro (Kent), Simon Bradbury (The Fool), Dereck Walton (Burgundy, Oswald), Helena Ruoti (Goneril), Robin Walsh (Regan), Karen Baum (Cordelia), and others.

Cymbeline Presented by the Quantum Theatre in Mellon Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. July 31-August 24, 2008. Directed by Karla Boos. Scenic design by Tony Ferrieri. Costume design by Susan Tsu. With Mikelle Johnson (Imogen), Patrick Jordan (Pisanio, Guiderius), Rick Kemp (Lords, Belarius, Sicilius Leonatus), Joel Ripka (Lords, Dr. Cornelius, Arviragus), Mark D. Staley (Iachimo, Queen), Sam Turich (Posthumus Leonatus, Cloten), David Whalen (Cymbeline, Caius Lucius, Jupiter, Gaoler).

Pittsburgh flourished as a great American industrial city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, suffered from postwar deindustrialization, and has become one of the rust belt's numerous shrinking cities in search of a new identity. Thanks to the culture of philanthropy and support for science and the arts established by the great industrialists, the city has been remaking itself as a center for technology, research, and the arts. Dozens of museums, libraries, and, institutes, universities, and foundations with names such as Carnegie, Frick, and Mellon provide the region with a rich cultural infrastructure. As a result, the supply of local theatrical talent and venues is great, creating a buyer's market for audiences in search of classical, contemporary, or experimental theater. At the same time, this environment has created an acute level of competition between theater companies. Rather than stage generic, traditional Shakespeare, professional companies in Pittsburgh struggle to communicate the unfamiliar elements of Shakespeare's plays and shape their productions toward specific groups, attempting to minimize the cannibalization of a limited audience base. This competition manifested itself in the 2007-8 season in a range of productions including a modernized Comedy of Errors, a postmodern King Lear, and a robotic Cymbeline. These productions distinguished themselves through their choice of materials, settings, and approaches to their texts. All three reported popular runs, and each labored both to acknowledge Pittsburgh as a site for Shakespeare and to represent effectively the on-stage violence inherent to these plays.

A non-profit resident theater in its thirty-third year, the Pittsburgh Public Theater (PPT) is one of the city's oldest functioning companies and was founded to provide high quality, varied theater to the Pittsburgh community. Appealing to as broad an audience as possible and distinguishing itself from other companies shaped the PPT's decision to stage Comedy of Errors in a modern, slapstick, cinematic fashion. Evidence of this interpretive decision was apparent upon entering the Michael Graves designed, 650-seat O'Reilly Theater, configured with a thrust stage. The house and stage lights were up, revealing a modern city streetscape. A roundabout covering the stage floor with a raised circle of pavement in the middle was pierced by a staircase descending into a subway entrance.

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