Student Voice

Dedication behind the scenes makes ‘Comedy of Errors’ a delightful romp

Antipholus+of+Syracuse%2C+played+by+Ryan+Scot%2C+is+distressed+by+the+unusual+events+that+have+plagued+his+visit+to+Ephesus.+Dromio+of+Syracuse%2C+played+by+Margot+Rowe%2C+ponders+superstitious+explanations+for+the+strange+interactions+they+encounter.+Photo+credit%3A+James+Schaap
Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Ryan Scot, is distressed by the unusual events that have plagued his visit to Ephesus. Dromio of Syracuse, played by Margot Rowe, ponders superstitious explanations for the strange interactions they encounter. Photo credit: James Schaap

Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Ryan Scot, is distressed by the unusual events that have plagued his visit to Ephesus. Dromio of Syracuse, played by Margot Rowe, ponders superstitious explanations for the strange interactions they encounter. Photo credit: James Schaap

Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Ryan Scot, is distressed by the unusual events that have plagued his visit to Ephesus. Dromio of Syracuse, played by Margot Rowe, ponders superstitious explanations for the strange interactions they encounter. Photo credit: James Schaap

By Emily Nelissen and Hannah Elders

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William Shakespeare’s laughter-inducing “Comedy of Errors” made its debut at the Moorpark College Performing Arts Center on March 8.

The show is sure to make audiences laugh with its comical plot line and slapstick humor. It features two sets of separated-at-birth twins who keep getting their identities mistaken by everyone around them, especially since none of the twins know that one another exists. While the humor is light, the show itself puts a heavy load on all the dedicated people in the production.

“It’s fun working with everyone because they become your friends,” said the show’s stage manager. “But at the end of the day, we are all working toward one common goal of creating a great show.”

Paola Soliz, a 20-year-old theatre major, is spearheading the technical aspect of the show with her role as a stage manager. This group is seen the least by the audience, but they bear vital tasks in “Comedy of Errors.”

She has been a stage manager for a dance show before, but she admits this particular show has proven itself to be notably different and much more difficult. She is in charge of not only getting lighting and sound cues correctly, but ensuring everyone is safe, accounted for, and respectful to others and the set of the show.

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Adriana played by Kathryn Eastland, smiles to her sister, Luciana, played by Lily Donnelly. Adriana is the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus and is particularly distressed by her husband’s seemingly erratic behavior. Photo credit: James Schaap

As the comedy ensues, Soliz sits in the booth on the third floor of the theater, overlooking the set and audience. There she calls cues throughout the show. Missing anything can cause disaster, she says.

Nonetheless, while these duties are highly important, Soliz also relies on her assistant stage manager, head costumer, and head makeup designer to allow the comedy to come alive.

Frank Candelaria V, an 18 year-old technical theatre major, is Soliz’s assistant, and his station resides across from her: backstage. He keeps actors calm, makes sure that everyone is where they are supposed to be, and if anything goes wrong, he tries to alleviate the situation before having to call Soliz in.

“Being on stage is fun for me,” said Candelaria. “Seeing all the actors and what is going on behind the scene is exciting.”

This sense of excitement was mutual across the board of everyone involved in the show, and it especially grew when the costumes and makeup began to come together throughout the semester. Even though it is a long process, it is extremely rewarding to see it come to life, said the head costume designer.

Penny Hill, a 23-year-old theatre major, earned herself the head costume designer position through her previous work on five different Moorpark shows including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Heathers.”

“Once we figure out the mood that we are trying to go for in the show, we try to research clothing from the specific era,” said Hill. “We try to find things that are evocative and exciting because we want to make something that is interesting.”

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Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Ryan Scot, gazes with concern while wearing a chain. His character comes from out of the town of Ephesus. Photo credit: James Schaap

Her big project this semester was for the character named Doctor Pinch, a half female, half male. Overall, the whole costume took Hill 30 hours to create. Nevertheless, Hill stressed that being part of costuming is a huge team effort, and she lent her help anywhere she could. In fact, she spent another 40 hours just assisting in sewing buttons, double checking outfits, and in other odd jobs around the set and in the costume shop.

Of course, this collaborative effort also called for a complementary makeup look which was done by the makeup designer, Jade Waters, an 18-year-old theatre arts major from the High School at Moorpark College. She made each look by researching the era and exploring the themes of the show. On top of that, she and her team taught each of the 21 actors how to apply each specific look for their shows each night.

“I like watching everyone’s looks come together and seeing the confidence that the actors gain once they have created the perfect makeup look,” said Waters.

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Abby Hill, who plays Courtesan, applies the makeup that makeup designer, Jade Waters taught her to do for the show. Photo credit: James Schaap

However, the makeup staff assists in harder elements such as aging their appearance, applying hair white, and hand-laid facial hair.

Like Hill, Waters worked on Doctor Pinch’s character. She admits it was fun to work on someone with two genders. As a matter of fact, multiple people in the show will be playing different genders from their own.

Arianna Velasquez, a freshman at Moorpark College, is playing Dromio of Ephesus. She really enjoys the challenge of playing a guy and admires how the genders of actors commonly tend to oppose the gender of the characters in many Shakespeare plays.

“My character is kind of exhausting, always on the move, always nervous or doing something crazy,” said Velasquez. “Overall I really like playing him.”

Velasquez loves theater acting over acting for film, and has been in theatre since her sophomore year of high school.

“I like the fact that every show is different and every audience is different,” said Velasquez. “And I like the instant gratification you get from audience members.”

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Antipholus of Ephesus, left, played by Michael Claridge, and Dromio of Ephesus, right, played by Arianna Velasquez, are listening to Doctor Pinch, center. Doctor Pinch is played by Jessy Sulka. The character is half female, half male, and the makeup and costume, created by Penny Hill, exemplifies each gender. Photo credit: James Schaap

Margot Rowe, a female herself, plays the male character, Dromio of Syracuse. She describes her character as very witty, fun, and loving.

“Despite it being a workout, I absolutely love this character!” said Rowe.

Acting is an art form, but it can also be quite a workout as well, according to Rowe. She mentioned how the show can be physically tiring, since there is so much going on.

“This show demands a lot of movement and energy,” said Rowe.

This show was also the theatre department’s first step in comedy through puppeteering. Madelyn “Q” Quinteros, a 19-year-old theatre major, worked alongside Moira MacDonald to make the puppets come to life on an overhead projector. MacDonald has a masters in puppets from CalArts. Q and MacDonald were able to develop these figures on campus using Moorpark’s MakerSpace.

Q says that the process was stressful, especially because they were unfamiliar with using Adobe Illustrator when initially generating the puppets in the first place. They had to make sure that they used sturdy paper as well because these puppets have to last ten shows.

“There is a lot of problem solving involved,” said Q. “We accidentally broke one of the puppets on opening night, but we fixed it very quickly using gaffers tape.”

Through attempting puppets for the first time, it became evident to the actors that immersing themselves in a creative environment was a priority to director Suzanne Fagan and assistant director, Nicole Castro.

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Antipholus of Ephesus, played by Michael Claridge, left, sits next to Balthasar, played by Jessica Ellgas, and Angelo, played by Andrew Chacon. Photo credit: James Schaap

Michael Claridge, a 19-year-old film major, plays Antipholus of Ephesus, a high tempered, egotistical man who has no idea he has a twin.

“I am not like my character at all,” said Claridge. “I’m easy-going, but I like playing him because I feel like I can get something outside of me that I wouldn’t normally.”

He said that Fagan allowed him to take many approaches to the character. This allowed him to find effective body movements and delivery styles that would ensure he maintains the comedic elements of the play while remaining comfortable as such an angry character.

Fagan never wants the students to do anything halfway. She wants the students to hit the jokes every time and be confident in it. There is a huge emphasis on being in a supportive, safe environment.

All of the directors’, actors’ and technical staff’s hard work can be seen at the Moorpark Performing Arts Center. There are still tickets on sale on the Moorpark College website for this weekend.

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Duke Solinus of Ephesus played by Jared Kedzia, snacks on some popcorn while listening to how the town has comically mixed up the twins. In the background stands Courtesan’s posse played by Maddie Paniccia, Miccala Jackson, and Gregor Balkian. Photo credit: James Schaap

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Egeon played by Chris Clyne recounts the story of how his twin sons were separated before being judged by Duke Solinus of Ephesus played by Jared Kedzia. Photo credit: James Schaap

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Courtesan, left, played by Abby Hill, surprises Antipholus of Syracuse, played by Ryan Scot, and Dromio of Syracuse, far right, played by Margot Rowe. Rowe’s character is very theatrical and runs and jumps about the set throughout the show. The quirky personality is shown as the Syracuse pair gawks at Courtesan. Photo credit: Luke Stumfall

 

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One Response to “Dedication behind the scenes makes ‘Comedy of Errors’ a delightful romp”

  1. Nicholas Hacker on March 17th, 2018 3 p.03.

    Chain of Fools – My Account of The Comedy of Errors

    Moorpark College’s spring 2018 production of The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare was the first Elizabethan play I’d ever seen live. It was a funny and enjoyable night; an unforgettable experience. The only other production of this play that I’ve seen is a video of the Shakespeare’s Globe’s version. In comparison, Moorpark College’s version was much more accessible for the average attendee. The production’s unique creative choices made the event more interesting than I had anticipated. My biggest complaint is that I am envious of how well the play was done; I wish I had auditioned for a part. I guess I’m just one of those people Luciana refers to when she says, “How many fond fools serve mad jealousy!”

    This production had many creative decisions which I likely would not have considered if I were the director. The shadow puppets were unexpected and delightful. The puppeteers did a masterful job of depicting how Egeon’s family was split apart. The Courtesan and her entourage frequently interrupted and spoke out their interpretation of Egeon’s speech, this allowed the audience to better understand what Egeon was saying. They did a good job of blending in with the rest of the audience, so much so that I almost wanted to tell them to ‘shush!’.

    Repetition was a recurring gag and I’m unsure why that was the direction they went with. When anybody mentioned Corinth, various background characters would shout out statements such as: “Not Corinth!”, and “I hate that place!”. I suppose the gag is that most people don’t know anything about Corinth, myself included. If I were on stage, and in on the gag, I’d shout out from the background in my best Monty Python-esque female voice, “They have nice leather though!”. The joke being that Corinthian leather is a high-quality material used to line the inside of luxury Chrysler vehicles, though it is not actually from Corinth.

    The chain is a luxurious item and was yet another word frequently repeated. Every time Angelo mentioned the chain, which he gave to Antipholus of Syracuse, he emphasized the word heavily. Angelo delivered his lines thusly, “I pray you, sir, give me the cha-a-a-in”, each time elongating the ‘a’ sound while looking toward the audience. The Courtesan also emphasized the chain in her lines, “A ring he hath of mine worth forty ducats, and for the same, he promised me a cha-a-a-in” she’d say. I found that this gag was repeated too often, and I began to dislike this choice as it happened over and over again. It’s also strange that the prop chain (or necklace) was designed to look like an oversized steel chain, the kind you might see on a submarine. This is because Adriana compares her marital relationship to the chain, in a speech to her sister Luciana. Adriana refers to the chain as a luxurious piece of jewelry, she says: “I see the jewel best enamelled will lose his beauty; yet the gold bides still”. So, it caught my eye when they first introduced the over-sized naval chain. The chain was not the only over-sized eye-catcher in the production though.

    The most memorable of all the appearances was that of Nell (or maybe it was Luce?). I’m confused because in the Folger’s Library written version of The Comedy of Errors it lists the character as “Nell (also called Luce)”. In Moorpark College’s version, they were two separate characters, one of them was played by a six-foot-tall, cross-dressed man; it is him that I am referring to. While the Syracusian pair of Antipholus and Dromio compared Luce’s body to the globe (of Earth, not Shakespeare’s), Luce simultaneously appeared in the background, above them. Luce mirrored their speech. When Antipholus of Syracuse says, “In what part of her body stands Ireland?”, Dromio of Syracuse replied, “Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs”. It is during this time Luce pointed her rear end to the audience and shook it. That night was unforgettable, I can honestly say that I will remember that night’s experience forever.

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