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‘Comedy of Errors’ takes modern tone at Linfield

“The Comedy of Errors” by William Shakespeare will be performed May 6-8 and 13-15 at 8 p.m. and May 9 at 2 p.m. in the Marshall Theatre in Ford Hall.

In the play, adapted by Janet Gupton, associate professor of theatre, Linfield College theatre students will give an upcoming Shakespearean production a contemporary twist to engage the audience in a fun-filled night of theatre.

The performance, evocative of today’s situation comedies, features a modern slant in setting, costumes and acting style. Set in the International Market Place of Waikiki in the present day in Honolulu, Hawaii, the production features two sets of twins who have been separated since birth and create confusion when they are mistaken for the other by their business associates and loved ones. “The Comedy of Errors” is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays based on a Roman comedy by Plautus. The play traditionally takes place on the islands of Greece and the surrounding areas, so the Hawaiian Islands are a natural fit. The modern setting helps reduce costume costs for the cast of 23.

Gupton said one of the challenges of directing a Shakespearean production is persuading actors to trust themselves with the language. As the writing is unraveled, the information is used to make acting and directing choices, she said.

“I have tried to find a balance in our production in which we intersperse contemporary language with Shakespeare’s original language,” she said. “Accessibility is key but we don’t want to eliminate the way Shakespeare writes either. He wrote to innovate theatre and with our production we hope to innovate the ways Shakespeare can be performed.”

Linfield last presented a Shakespeare production, “Macbeth,” in 2006. Gupton said it’s important to give students a chance to participate in a wide range of dramatic genres over the course of their four years in the program.

“Shakespeare is the most produced playwright in the English speaking world and his work requires the Olympics of acting,” she said. “We like to challenge our students by performing his work.”

In addition to Gupton, the production also includes set design by Ty Marshall, professor of theatre arts; assistant set design by Alessa Downing, a junior theatre major; sound design by Robert Vaughn, instructional associate and technical director; costume design by Alethia Moore-Del Monaco, instructional associate and costume shop manager; assistant costume design by Steven Stewart, a junior theatre major; lighting design by Matthew Sunderland, a junior theatre major; and properties design by William Bailey, a sophomore theatre minor.

Tickets will go on sale Tuesday, April 27. Tickets are $9 for full price; $7 for seniors; and $5 for students, with a special $2 discount on opening night. For the matinee on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9, mothers will get in for the special price of $5. Tickets can be purchased on the web, by phone or at the Marshall Theatre Box Office. Purchase tickets through the secure server at www.linfield.edu/culture.html (a small service charge will apply). Located just inside the lobby of Ford Hall, the box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., with extended hours on performance days. The box office is closed Mondays. The Marshall Theatre is fully accessible. Contact the box office directly if accessible seating is required.

For more information, contact Linfield’s Marshall Theatre at 503-883-2292.