"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
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.
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!
As I read a script I'm going to direct, many different visuals pass through my mind. It takes a while to piece them together -- like a quilter, planning what shapes to put where, what patterns and textures to use .... Last night, I began to see the pieces that are almost ready to be sewn together ... actors started making brave and bold choices; character relationships began to solidify; the set, although still disassembled, has shape; and the behind the scenes "team" came to life, each of us leaving with our long lists of things to do. Three weeks and counting. I'm ready to pick up the needle and thread ...
Posted by The Comedy of Errors Director Lisa Formosa-Parmigiano