CaST Profile: Braden Cleary

"It has truly been a rewarding experience watching Braden develop over the past four years.  He has grown from an Intern to an insightful and generous instructor, and from an enthusiastic teen actor to a dedicated and disciplined artist.  He is genuine and unique - a wonder of potential that I am grateful to have had the pleasure of knowing and working with.  I look forward to watching as he continues to define and shape himself and others."  -Director of Education Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano
Braden Cleary is a familiar face at CST... Largely due to being the "poster child" for this year's The Comedy of Errors Shakespeare in the Park production. Not only does this Indiana University Junior; majoring in theatre; have a role in our mainstage production, but he is also the instructor/director for this years Summer Shakespeare Workshop. The students will wrap up their summer session by doing their version of The Comedy of Errors this weekend on Friday at 5:30 PM and Saturday at 2:30 PM. 
Cleary began with CST when he went to an open casting call for Ascension Day when he was a Junior at Wheeler High School. He landed a role in the play and began taking classes at CST with the play's director Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano. "Lisa really taught me a lot of hands-on skills that are a foundation for how I approach working on any type of production," said Braden.
During his Senior year he was took a course to find an internship in a field he was interested in pursuing. Braden asked to become an intern with the Educational Programming with CST and assisted Lisa and Peyton Daley with classes. During this time he took parts in various plays like PinocchioThe Man Who Came to Dinner, Frost/Nixon, and worked backstage as well as helped with the Summer Shakespeare Workshop.He says that one of the things he really appreciates about being part of CST is that the group took him in and got him involved while always treating him with respect. "I've never had anyone here ever treat me as if I were a kid or anything less than an equal and I think that is so important for the students coming through here to have the same experiences I've had."
Braden says that the process of directing the student production of the same show he is currently in has been an "interesting experience" because it's an adaptation by Kari-Anne Innes that pits rival high schools against each other at a mall. "I've had to be very careful not to direct the students where I'm saying things like- Well in our version we do this this way..." Cleary admitted that he thought it was good for his students to see him in the Graney version because he thinks that watching their teacher and the other cast members "go all out" showed his students how the could "step up" their own performances and be "less self conscious." He believes it also helps teach them where all this training can be applied, because his students know how he "was where they are" not that long ago. 
In the Sean Graney version of The Comedy of Errors, Braden plays Dromio of Syracuse the playful sidekick to his master and Dromio of Ephesus the the nervous "whipping post" for his master. Fellow cast member Eric Brant said that Cleary is a "joy" to work with especially with the improvised elements of the show because "he takes whatever anybody throws at him and finds a way to make it better."
Braden said that he loves the people at CST because the experiences they've given him helped become the Education Coordinator for a student run theatre group at IU. He added that he also loves returning to "this place where people have a sense of pride and professionalism about their work. It shows me that people really love the what they're doing here."
-Eric Brant

A Return to Our Improv Roots

One of the things that I really love about the Sean Graney adaptation for The Comedy of Errors is that it has these areas built into the script for us to improvise. As many people know, Dan Matern and I were both part of the Improvisational Comedy Group AH-HA and All L!VE NEWD in the 80's and early 90's. For the two of us this show is a lot of fun for us because we follow the set structure of the script while having these great moments of spontaneity. It's quite a bit how our comedy shows were when we toured all over Chicago and the Midwest.
The other great part of being in this show is that we have this incredible ensemble cast of seven. They are definitely a wonderful bunch of improvisers to work with. Two of our cast members: Peyton Daley and Braden Cleary, are both instructors for our CST Education Programs. Peyton is also a teacher at Chicago's famed Second City and is always cracking us up with her adlibbed portions of the show. Braden too is an awesome partner to work with simply for his ability to add on to whatever anyone else might improvise. His character Dromio of Syracuse has this line where he asks, "Where's this going?" and I think that one of the beautiful things about the show is that we can be like Jazz musicians in how we have this main melody that we follow, but then we get these places to spin off into something new each night. As actors it's a fantastic return to our improv roots; and an opportunity to stay sharp and practice our listening skills.
One of the other really fun aspects is that we also have some really great laughers in our cast. We find ourselves like Harvey Korman and Tim Conway onThe Carol Burnett Show totally cracking one another up. I usuall y like to think I'm pretty good at not breaking but our cast is so talented we've all "gotten" each other at some point or another during the run of the show. There's this friendly little competition over who's going to "get" who each night.
I think audiences feed on that energy and laughter too once it gets going. For us, as actors, this dynamic keeps the show fresh. Audiences are affected too. Each group gets its own personalized show in terms of how they respond to the improvised parts of the play. I think that people who've seen the performances at the park or at the theatre may want to come back to see how the show changes depending on the audiences. For people who haven't seen the play- we have only a few more performances left and I wouldn't want anyone to miss how much fun this show is night after night.
-Eric Brant, Actor

CaST Profile: Mary D'Aloisio

This week's featured member has only been involved at CST for three years, but has virtually been a part of every single production since The Heidi Chronicles in 2010. While she definitely a talented artist, her work at the theatre isn't as an actor or designer. She's Mary d' Aloisio who has been a huge advocate for CST through the beautiful production photos she has taken for all our shows.
"Mary's amazing," says member Traci Brant, "She's been photographing CST shows for a while now and she is passionate about our group and the types of shows we produce. As someone who works with the photos to develop graphics for our website, facebook and print material, Mary gives me so much to work with." Brant states that d'Aloisio has given her "pre-press" shots that look like their from the full blown production of the play. "It's difficult with some of the recent pictures for A View from the Bridge to tell which shots were taken before and after that play was up."
Times Entertainment Columnist, Phil Potempa and Community Editor, Annette Arnold both complimented CST on Mary's work. Arnold shared that the recent photos for The Comedy of Errors  were "Just too good not to use."
Mary stated that she really enjoys taking the photos for her CST "peeps" because the actors are generally so accomodating with her asking them to do things that will help create the best images to represent the play. "They tend to be less self conscious than models I work with for my other photography gigs," she says, " I also learn a lot from doing the production photos that I can use with other photography assignments by working with the lighting designers and directors here." She also commented that she has liked being able to take photographs of lots of different types of shows.
Although she has enjoyed working with all of her work with the theatre, some of d'Aloisio's favorite CST assignments have been with the group's productions of The Cherry Orchard and American Rex. She added, "The sets, lighting, and costumes for Cherry Orchard just worked so well together to create really beautiful imagery and American Rex was so dark, moody and edgy. It's so awesome when I can capture those elements of a play... Or maybe I just have a thing for Bob Cooley (lighting designer)"
Mary said that she loves that CST is such a family of artists who are so open to taking risks to make the best product. "People here trust me even though I come in to photograph them with all these piercings and tats. There's no judgement here, we're just passionate about making great art."
We are lucky to have such a talented artist and professional donating her time with CST!


Shakespeare in the Park was for the second year in a row a tremendous success for Chicago Street Theatre and The Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department. The weather was perfect on July 12 and 13 as Valparaiso's Central Park Plaza and The Porter Regional Amphitheater welcomed over 2,000 audience members to the wacky town of Ephesus to view Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors under the stars.
The event, coordinated by CST's Director of Development, Kelly Hite, featured delicious food from Bon Femme, Don Quijote, El Salto, Industrial Revolution, Kernels & Kones, Martinis, Nana Clare's Kitchen, Pikk's Tavern, and Valpo Velvet. This year's festivities also included more for kids to do while waiting for the show with activities conducted by Perpetual Motion, Face Painting, and bounce houses from Bounce 'N' Around.
The Summer Shakespeare Workshop provided entertainment for the crowd and interacted with guests during the earlier portion of the evening. The students will be performing their own version of The Comedy of Errors at CST on July 26 and 27.
Volunteers worked before and throughout both evenings with every aspect of setting up the event, coordinating needs for the performance, venders' areas, and guest services. Jim Drader, Jonni Pera, Mike Strayer, Don Parker, Traci Brant, Caroline Rau Geldernick, Bob Cooley, Tiffany Rhoda and Glenn Silver were the Board Members who assisted in supervising CST volunteers.
Chicago Street wants to thank all the members who helped prepare and/or worked the event. They are: Barb Owens, Patricia Schulz, Richard Schulz, Jim Henry, Dona Henry, Mary DeBoer, Lindsey DeBoer,Elizabeth Simmons, Deb Porter, Mary Jo Nuland, Mike Porter, Judy Doan, Auriel Lark Felsecker, Kat Lutze, Grant Fitch, Chloe Hoeksema, Paul Braun, Stretch Miller, Mark Baer, Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, Patty Bird, Chuck Gessert, Peyton Daley, Braden Cleary, Mary Bird, Jim Higbee, Scott Miller, Dan Matern, Jason Kaplan, Kathy Arfken, Marcia Burbage, Phil Parmigiano,Robyn Rutar, Mary d'Aloisio, Matt Pera, Julie Roberts, Bob Prescott, Tommy Krueger, Shirley Remijan, Kathleen Erny, Jerry Erny, Jeff Zimmerman, Sarah Wermuth, Brett Worthington, Nick Travis, Eric Brant, Matt Pera, Mahdi Stephens, Arin Mykel Martin, Jaime Hite, Stan Christianson, Keith Palazolo, Mike Hite, Lauren Brant, Nicholas Brant, Camille Daley, Laney Roberts, Eden Roberts, and Rudy Parmigiano. 
The Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department congratulated Chicago Street on the success of the event. Work didn't end for the cast and the crew of The Comedy of Errors as they took down their set and reassembled it back at Chicago Street for six more performances July 19 through 27. 

What's going on up there?

The Comedy of Errors in a Nutshell: 

Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is condemned to death for entering the town of Ephesus. As he is led to his execution, he tells the Ephesian Duke that he has come to the town of Syracuse in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated as infants many years ago in a shipwreck. The twins are identical and both named Antipholus, and each has an identical twin servant named Dromio. One set of twins is from Syracuse and the other set lives in Ephesus, but neither are aware of the other. The Duke is so moved by this story that he grants Egeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life.

Meanwhile, unknown to Egeon, his son Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus’ servant Dromio of Syracuse are also visiting Ephesus—where Antipholus’ missing twin, known as Antipholus of Ephesus, is a prosperous citizen of the city. Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, mistakes Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband and drags him home for dinner, leaving Dromio of Syracuse to stand guard at the door and admit no one. Shortly thereafter, Antipholus of Ephesus (with his servant Dromio of Ephesus) returns home and is refused entry to his own house. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse has fallen in love with Luciana who is appalled at the behavior of the man she thinks is married to her sister Adriana. 

The confusion increases when a gold chain ordered by the Ephesian Antipholus is given to Antipholus of Syracuse. Antipholus of Ephesus refuses to pay for the chain (unsurprisingly, since he never received it) and is arrested for debt. His wife Adriana, seeing his strange behavior, decides he has gone mad and orders him bound and held in a dark, dank vault. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant decide to flee the city, which they believe to be enchanted, as soon as possible--only to be menaced by Adriana and the debt officer. They seek refuge in a nearby abbey.

Adriana now begs the Duke to intervene and remove her “husband” from the abbey into her custody. Her real husband, meanwhile, has broken loose and now comes to the Duke and levels charges against his wife Adriana. The situation is finally resolved by the Abbess, Emilia, who brings out the set of twins and reveals herself to be Egeon’s long-lost wife. Antipholus of Ephesus reconciles with Adriana; Egeon is pardoned by the Duke and reunited with his spouse; Antipholus of Syracuse resumes his romantic pursuit of Luciana, and all ends happily.

Costuming Bright, Colorful Vaudeville

Costumes are not always designed to be seen.  Often costumes are meant to blend into the show and not stand out.  In fact they shouldn’t stand out. They are simply a part of the character.  Sometimes costumes are used to depict family connections, or a location.  Sometimes costumes are very obvious due to the time period being created, as they are for our production of Comedy of Errors.  Vaudeville: 1895.  What would you expect to see on the Vaudeville stage?  A strong man, a band leader, straight men, comedians, a ring master, a barker, beautiful women, and all bigger than life.

Tonight was the first night all the actors wore costumes.  It is always a challenging night.  You find out quickly what pieces won’t work, what changes are too fast, what colors just don’t cut it on stage under the lights, and so on.   Tonight, the magnets on the men’s collars didn’t hold; back to Velcro.   The zipper on an older dress decided it had zipped its last zip.  The wig I thought was going to look perfect, didn’t.  And the dress I had been recreating, well, I hated it.  I was scribbling furiously on my notepad as I watched rehearsal.  Notes to myself, notes to the actors.

As costume designer for Comedy of Errors, my biggest challenge has been creating costumes for 7 actors who happen to be playing 20 different characters!  In fact, there are several actors that have less than 15 seconds to change from one character to the next.  Yikes!

The concept for this production came after several conversations with the director, Lisa Formosa–Parmigiano.  Vaudeville is the theme, 1895, but with anachronistic moments.  The play is set in two different towns, Syracuse in the North and Ephesus in the South.  As costume designer I needed to differentiate between the two.  So Syracuse characters are in cool colors to depict the North and Ephesus characters are in warm colors, for the South.  However, each character has a touch of the opposite color just to make things interesting!

The next challenge came in the form of two actors, each playing a set of twins.  (I know, it’s so confusing!)  One twin is from Syracuse, the other from Ephesus so each actor had to have both cool and warm colors to show where the character was from.  The problem was that those actors didn’t have any time to fully change a costume from one twin to the other.  So how does the audience tell the two apart?  I chose the easiest form of costume changes possible.  A coat, a hat and a tie.  Sounds simple, but it truly is not!

There are also men playing women (typical Shakespeare) and women playing men.  What’s fun is that we are not trying to hide that.  The costume tells the audience what they are supposed to see even if the actor is not.  (a woman with a beard?  What?)  This is a bright, colorful production reminiscent of the Vaudeville stage, not to mention lots of fun to watch!


This year's Shakespeare in the Park production of The Comedy of Errors will be a little bit wilder and crazierthanks to the creative adaptation by Sean Graney, the founder and former artistic director of The Hypocrites theatre in Chicago. In 2004 Graney was the Chicago Tribune's Chicagoan of the Year for Theatre for his inventive and sometimes radical takes on classic plays like Miss Julie and Death of a Salesman.
CST's The Comedy of Errors cast member Mark Baer, who is Assistant Professor at Indiana University Northwest, said, "We study Graney in our directing classes because he has this great reputation as a bit of a rule breaker."
"His work started earning him a lot of attention," says CST member and Court Theatre Associate Marketing Director, Traci Brant. "Court Theatre was thrilled to have him direct a production of What the Butler Saw."  Court then followed up Graney's hilarious treatment of that farce with a production of the two man quick-change comedy, The Mystery of Irma Vep
In 2010, Graney adapted Shakespeare's shortest work--The Comedy of Errors--for Chicago's Court Theatre. To put a different spin on how the comedy is normally performed, Graney wanted to draw on the fun experiences he'd had with The Mystery of Irma Vep and Hypocrite's production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged and adapt his Court production to be performed by only six actors. He also wanted to develop the adaptation in a way that would allow his six actors to play and improvise with the material. 
CST's production director, Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano, has chosen to use seven actors for The Comedy of Errors which still gives the players room to have fun with the material and the opportunity to perform the various quick-changes required in the Graney adaptation. "This production is particularly unique because it's an adaptation that combines slapstick humor, modernized language, and only seven actors playing the twenty roles in the script," said Formosa-Parmigiano.
Actor Eric Brant says that there are various challenges to creating this play for people to enjoy. He states,"I think that Graney has done a nice job of mingling the original text with contemporary dialogue that helps to make things more current and playful, but I also think it helps some of the more confusing aspects of the comedy more accessible."
Another aspect of Graney's adaptation that Lisa likes how it also incorporates a lot of audience interaction which was more common in Shakespeare's day. "There are improvised moments between characters and audience members I think will be interesting to experience each night." said Formosa-Parmigiano
Sean Graney's star has left Chicago and moved on to New York where the director is now stirring things up on Broadway. Fortunately, Chicago Street Theatre is able to take a crack at this irreverent director's take on Shakespeare's hilarious work to delight audiences young and old July 12th through the 26th.


Nancy Haller has been a fan of Chicago Street Theatre as long as she has been married to actor, director, and theatre enthusiast, Andy Urschel. When Andy came back to working on shows with CST's 2002 production of Annie, Nancy came down to watch her husband work. She had been involved with theatre through her high school years and encouraged her daughter Maya to take part in programs like Valpo University's Young Shakespeare Workshop when she was in elementary and middle school.
After Andy tried his Assistant Directorship for the Jim Henry play Backwards in High Heels, under the tutelage of Jonni Pera and Traci Brant, the pair asked Nancy if she would be interested in working with them on their next project. Haller agreed to join them for Steve Martin's The Underpants in the Fall of 2005. "Jonni and Trai, had already cast Andy and the others... so I think they just stalked my house for a while and jumped me when I got out of my car one night," laughed Nancy. The trio worked on that show and have remained close friends ever since.
Nancy and Andy then prepared for a production of their own: a second child, Sophia Quinn Urschel. Nancy said "Sophia made frequent visits to the theatre with Maya and I whenever Andy would be working on a show or she would often go with him to the Artistic Committee when he was on the Board."
In 2008, Eric Brant returned to directing after a four year hiatus and asked Nancy if she would be interested in Co-directing the Fall comedy Camping with Henry and Tom. Because she was spending more time at the theatre, Haller soon joined the Board. She also got involved with helping out with special events and providing the script and voice over material for CST's Denim & Diamonds Season Preview. "I love putting that together with Karl. We always have a great time," said Nancy. She added,"We're still doing the preview this year, but we're going to give a make-over and a new name, since other groups are doing similar fundraising events."
Next Nancy did two shows somewhat back to back with The Heidi Chronicles and The Man Who Came to Dinner in 2010. That same year she began chairing the Marketing Committee. While on Marketing, Haller guided the direction of the season brochure and other marketing efforts.
This June Nancy was elected to the office of Treasurer. "Right now we're making the transition from Tiffany Rhoda who has been working with Stan Christianson," she stated, "It's all still fairly new, but I'm excited about all the things we have planned for our 59th season."


Last week was a very exciting week at Chicago Street as we prepare for our massive event of the Summer: Shakespeare in the Park. As many of you know, Matt Pera, Mary d'Aloisio, the cast of Comedy of Errors  and I have been cooking up some crazy ideas to promote the show and the festival we're hosting on July 12 and 13.
Some of the event's greatest supporters have been John Seibert and Dan McGuire of the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department and our own mayor, Jon Costas. One of the videos we wanted to make to highlight the feel of the Sean Graney adaptation we're using and the CST's Dining Partners who will be staffing the food tent at the park's performances was to create a parody of the opening credits to Saturday Night Live.
Of course to take the parody to its completion we needed to have a "Special Musical Guest" and a "Guest Host". To fulfill that concept I contacted John and Dan about coming in to have photos taken for the "Musical Guest' title card.
The two from Valpo's Parks and Recreation were totally up for doing the different poses that our talented photographer Mary d. had them do. She posed them in heavy metal, indie band and rappers poses to give us a variety of shots to pick from. This was a completely awesome photo shoot we did at Chicago Street where the recently cleaned out "Shoe Room" is doubling as our photo studio. There was a lot of laughter and joking as well as full-on embarrassment! John said several times that he thought that I was completely "nuts" with the projects we were working on, but both guys were truly great sports about anything we wanted them to do. They also chatted with great excitement about the vision they have for Central Park Plaza's additional area ( site of the former Welfare building) which will be started in January of next year.
For the "Special Guest Host" I really wanted to try to book Jon Costas the Mayor of Valparaiso. This proved to be a little more difficult of a task because of his busy schedule. My solution was to speak to his awesome Executive Assistant and Gatekeeper, Lori Good. Lori was hugely receptive to the ideas that I pitched for what I wanted the Mayor to do. She talked them over with his honor and he really wanted to make it happen. Jon had made a guest appearance in a production of It's a Wonderful Life a few years back with us and I think he may have been itching to "walk the boards" again.
Lori and I set things up for the morning of the 28th and the plan was to have Mary d. take his title card photo as she had done with the Parks & Rec Guys. However, on Monday Lori called to say that the Mayor's schedule had filled up on that Friday. She wondered if we could make things happen sooner on Wednesday afternoon. I went into scramble mode and contacted Matt and Mary d. to start setting things up. We also needed to contact our friends at Martinis to make sure that we could use their stage for the Mayor's opening monologue.
As luck would have it I was also able to get a few members together to act as groundlings for the monologue that would have definate Shakespearean overtones. Mary Bird, Jeff Zimmerman, Kelly Hite and Steve from Martinis made up my cast of hecklers for the Mayor's bit. I wrote the script and sent it to Lori for Jon to look over before hand.
At 1:30 PM the Mayor arrived at Chicago Street to take his title card photo with Mary. He seemed excited but fairly casual. Lori had made it sound like we needed to hurry things along, but Jon said to use as much time as we needed "to get everything as good as you can make it."
After Mary got her shots of the Mayor done he came downstairs as I was finishing the cue cards he would be using for the monologue. He said, "I just want you to know how much I appreciate your talents and all you guys do for our community," before we left to film at Martinis.
He looked over his cue cards and talked over how everything was going to work for the video taping as Matt and Steve got things set up. We ran through the script on the stage as bar patron's watched and added to our audience noise. After three rehearsals we taped his monologue twice with the interruptions from our crew of groundlings. Matt said that he felt really good about what he got on tape. The cast all shook Jon's hand and weposed with him so that Mary d. could capture the moment on film. Mayor Costas would return to Martinis later that night to do a guest jam for a Dollars for DAWGS fund raising event with Chad Clifford and Mike Moore.
Overall it was an awesome Wednesday. I feel very fortunate that we have the support of our Parks Department and our mayor for Shakespeare in the Park. Everyone spoke of how excited they were that Chicago Street made the event happen last year and shared hopes that this year's turnout will be even bigger.
At the present moment, I'm once again, speaking with Lori Good to see about the Mayor introducing the show this year. Hopefully we'll see him and all of you on July 12 & 13 for The Comedy of Errors!
-Eric Brant, CST Director of Marketing


By the time most of you will be reading this, Kathy Arfken will "Officially" be an Associate Professor of Theatre for Indiana University Northwest in Gary. The Hyde Park, Illinois resident has been making the long commute into Valparaiso this Summer to design and help construct the intricate travelling set for this year's Shakespeare in the Park production of The Comedy of Errors being directed by Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano. Arfken is no stranger to theatre in Northwest Indiana, and has designed other productions in the past for Lake Central Theatre Guild as well as several productions for IUN. She holds her BA degree from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and her MFA from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. We grabbed Kathy for a moment as she worked on the set to talk to her about her process since joining the project.
CST: How did you get involved with designing the set for The Comedy of Errors?
Kathy Arfken: I had seen several productions at Chicago Street Theatre over the past few years. As a professor of theatre I often encourage my students to see theatre around Northwest Indiana and Chicago for extra credit. I had heard a lot of good things from my students about Chicago Street. Some of my past students have also been involved with the group too. Jim Henry's daughter Andrea was in some of my classes and told me that her father was a playwright who had many of his works staged with the company. John Latuada was also one of my students. I began seeing plays here because I felt as an artist that I wanted to do some work outside of my campus projects. I had come to see Jim's play Brother of All and A Midsummer Night's Dream last year, and told Chicago Street that I was interested in possibly designing a show for the following season. I let them know that the times that would work out best would be for the first or last show slots. Lisa contacted me and said that she was interested in working together.
CST: What have the influences for this set been?
KA: Well most recently it's been Vaudeville. I was impressed by the set that Eric Brant did for Midsummer with its "Steam Punk" influences for the inagural park performances and how there was this link to the type of stage Shakespeare had at the Globe. Originally things were going in this direction of the city of Ephesus, where the play takes place as being kind of "run down" because of the shifty characters in the play like the Courtesan and Angello the Goldsmith. I saw Court Theatre's production of this adaptation by Sean Graney when they did the show in 2010. Ephesus was this place that had fallen into a state of disrepair. In the beginning we had talked about using a lot of recycled trash as elements in the set to imply this.
As Lisa got into her process of working with the script she had been initially inspired by the Vaudeville clowns depicted in the illustration for the show.She began researching the origins of how Vaudeville rose up after the Civil war in this country. Graney's version played with a type of clowning and audience interaction that lent itself to a Vaudeville presentation.
Going into my own research I started looking at Ephesus as this city that was like a dilapidated old theatre from that era. Much of the architecture in those old Vaudville houses related back to Roman arches and details. WithThe Comedy of Errors drawing its inspiration from the Roman comedies of Plautus it felt like it would work to have the city be like this old theatre in the South that had seen better days.
CST: How has the process been working at Chicago Street as compared to working with students?
KA: I usually have more time and can work more intensively with my students. One difference is that with a class there are always people present because they're students working toward getting a grade. With volunteers there are more people coming and going. Volunteers have their own specialties, when they're available and a certain way that they are used to working. It's definitely a learning experience for me, particularly because at IUN I'm in my own environment with my own tools and I'm instructing people. Here people already have certain skill sets, like one of your members, Marcia Gienapp who made these incredible curtains for the stage. The turn around time has been another difference as well. We generally have a much longer period of time to do one of the sets for our university productions.
CST: How has the set evolved through the process of rehearsals?
KA: The "compact" time frame has definately influenced what we have been able to do and what we've been able to make for the set. So we've had to make adjustments and edits to some things I wanted to do with respect to the deadlines and giving the actors enough time to work on the set. I've also been looking at how the Vaudeville elements could be used.
CST: What has been the best part of working on this show?
KA: I think just meeting new people and getting to know your members. This group has many talented people.
CST: Is there anything you did that helped prepare you for these park performances and the following weeks where the set will return to Chicago Street for the indoor shows?
KA: Luckily I just designed my first touring show for a production of Driving Miss Daisy. There are a lot more ornate design elements for this production but we're building it in a way and out of materials where if the pieces get a little distressed in tansit that's okay.They're both very different plays. Errors is afterall a "clown show."
CST: Any final thoughts?
KA: I hope audiences get a playful impression of a Vaudeville stage that serves the slapstick and clowning that goes on in the play. This adaptation has lots of ways for the actors and the audience to have fun with Shakespeare's work.