The Theatre of Today
How times have changed? As mentioned earlier, our Shakespeare in Queens Park Festival is in its third year.
This season, Toowoomba audiences will be presented a program that has enlisted the expertise of countless industry specialists including:
Stage Manager and Deputy Stage Manager;
actors and performers;
publicity and marketing staff;
Box Office and Front-of-House staff;
Costume, Lighting and Set Designers;
technical staff including welders and carpenters;
sound, board and dome operators; and
administration and financial coordinators.
No two performances are ever alike in the theatre but due to the time, effort and professionalism that the above artists dedicate to their roles, every performance is guaranteed to delight. Staging a theatre event is a collaborative project and all the people listed consult almost daily to achieve an overall and cohesive product.
Let's discover what goes into the preparations for The Comedy of Errors.
Director of The Comedy of Errors, Scott Witt believes the if people are to be introduced to Shakespeare, it should be accessible, fun and not too long. The Comedy of Errors is just the right play. I believe my role in achieving this is to help provide an experience that friends and families can enjoy.
When I was asked to come up and play with students from USQ, I jumped at the chance. I had been in conversations with Festival Producer, Kate Foy for some time about directing for the park shows unfortunately due to other commitments I was unable to come up the Range. However, this year was the perfect opportunity to do so. I have worked extensively with the students to bring you a quick witted and funny night in the park.
By working closely with the students I was able to make the cuts we needed to and create the style of the show we wanted to do as a group. They have truly been a great bunch of actors to work with, disciplined and energetic from day one of rehearsals. This is a strong reflection of the theatre department at USQ.
The Comedy of Errors is a simple tale based on two sets of twins and a whole lot of mistaken identity. In true Shakespearean style, confusion abounds and people find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time with alarming results.
To read more about Scott Witt, visit his website: http://www.combatcircus.com
The Set Design
The stage for The Comedy of Errors is reminiscent of a shipwreck. Chris Willems, the set designer, always designs his sets with the actors and the action in mind. Chris is aware that the set must compliment the action thereby enhancing the drama. His inspiration for this year's production is an old wooden ship. The set is a colourful reference to times gone by and has much appeal for a younger audience. The challenge for Chris was designing a set that had to compliment the very physical action in The Comedy of Errors as well as incorporating the heritage listed tree that figures in all of the Shakespeare in Queens Park Festivals. This year the stage is deliberately built around the tree and this provides an intriguing element for the audience as trees and shipwrecks would appear to be incongruent. However, the set cleverly suggests that the shipwreck has been here so long that the tree has grown out of the wreckage. This parallels the theme of time and humour throughout The Comedy of Errors.
The Costume Design
The director met with Costume Designer, Carolyn Taylor-Smith and outlined his concept for The Comedy of Errors. Based on this initial meeting Carolyn has created an array of absolutely stunning costumes which reflect a world within a world. Carolyn's imagination and creativity sees the characters perform in an eclectic mix of 1930s vaudeville inspired outfits that echo maritime. Carolyn has used an assortment of symbols and imagery in her designs. You will notice anchors, lifebuoys, fishing hooks, boats, fish and lobsters amongst the sea faring imagery created in 1950s vintage fabrics. The making of the costumes, for the production, has seen a team of seven people work six hundred hours in five weeks!
Carolyn says that it is always a challenge to complete the costumes in so short a period but the ability to have creative licence and design a world within a world with a team of creative young people is extremely rewarding.