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BWW Interview: Shane Stewart of COMEDY OF ERRORS at Acorn Theatre At Pointe-Marie


Shakespearean Shenanigans combine with Hawaiian Luau Theme

BWW Interview: Shane Stewart of COMEDY OF ERRORS at Acorn Theatre At Pointe-Marie
Photos by Rick LeCompte

The Acorn Theatre is up to some Shakespeare Shenanigans with its rendition of the Bard's THE COMEDY OF ERRORS. Directed by Shane Stewart, this production turns Pointe-Marie into a Hawaiian luau while the story focuses on a series of incidents caused by mistaken identity when two sets of twins set out to find their long-lost siblings. sat down with Stewart to talk about the upcoming production, why people toy with time and place when it comes to Shakespeare, and the overall value of comedy in theatre. What is it about the play that makes it perfect for an evening of summer theatre?

Stewart: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, written by William Shakespeare, is a non-stop, action-induced, gut-busting play. Two sets of twins get confused for each other in Ephesus and wreak havoc on the existing relationships between the townspeople in the city. This evening of theatre is fittingly portrayed with a dynamic cast of actors, the Acorn Theatre Troupe. A whole lot of fun is in store, so come see THE COMEDY OF ERRORS with the Acorn Theatre Troupe on August 7, 8th at Pointe-Marie in L'Auberge Casino!

BWW Interview: Shane Stewart of COMEDY OF ERRORS at Acorn Theatre At Pointe-Marie BWW: Can you tell us more about the setting of your production? How did you come up with it?

Stewart: Sit back, relax, and put your toes in the sand. Oh, did we forget to mention that it's a Hawaiian Luau? Come listen to beach music with us, watch a play, and maybe even participate in an intermission game to win prizes! Acorn Theatre has been long involved in the making of theatre in Baton Rouge and other surrounding areas. After our success with our recent production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream produced by Playmakers, we were anxious to build up Acorn Theatre. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS was an easy choice, as Acorn has done it before, several years ago. All in all, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS is an unapologetically funny show, and the Acorn Theatre Creative Team and Troupe have had a blast creating it.

BWW: It is not uncommon to update Shakespeare's plays with time or locations. Why do you think theatre companies and directors do this?

Stewart: Well, the first reason is because of the sheer amount of money that you would need to make Ancient Greece come alive on stage. The second reason: Shakespeare lends his work to be reinterpreted in many ways. When an actor walks onto the stage in a Shakespeare play, they announce to the audience, "Hey, this is Ephesus. We're in Ephesus." And strangely, in a theatre setting, the audience will go along with it. As a director working with Shakespeare, you can paint the picture however you want before the actor announces that we are in "Ephesus," and the audience will go along. It's more about the people in the play and the different worlds that you can create that breathe life into Shakespeare's words and create a world for the actors to interact in.

BWW: What are some of the themes you see in THE COMEDY OF ERRORS?

Stewart: Mercy, humanity, and family. The story begins as an old man begs for his life from a threatening Duke, as he is a Syracusan Merchant found in Ephesus, where an age-old rivalry has dominated their history. The duke gives the Syracusan enough mercy to spare his life for a day and beg others to receive enough money to pay his bail. Although a lot of the show relies on slapstick humor, like a set of frat boys knocking each other over after a chest bump, Shakespeare writes heart into his characters. Luciano and Adriano are gender-swapped versions of the original wife and sister-in-law of Antipholus. Although they are frat bro's, Adriano is deeply concerned that his wife, Antipholus, is cheating on him. As far as family goes, you'll have to come to see the show to find out the rest of the story.

BWW Interview: Shane Stewart of COMEDY OF ERRORS at Acorn Theatre At Pointe-Marie BWW: Comedies are not always considered among Shakespeare's masterpieces. Why do you think they are some of his most performed plays?

Stewart: Because they are FUN! Shakespeare had a lot of fun writing this play. He stole the idea from a couple of old plays and myths of his time; one play is most notably known for its Italian slapstick comedic elements. This play also used twins as a comedic device, as other characters would always get the twins comically confused. Shakespeare wouldn't have it so easy, though, so he added another set of twins to the story to make it a wild ride from start to finish. Comedies written by William Shakespeare have a lot of wordplay that was written prettily and poetically. Reading it is not always fun, but seeing it performed when broken down and digested by a team of talented actors and directors makes it easy to follow and fun to watch.

BWW: What is the value of theatres producing comedies as part of their seasons?

Stewart: There is a lot of pain in the world right now. We are here to fill it with a little more laughter. It may seem as though this can be fleeting and unprofitable, but we needed it right now. I'm talking about the Acorn Troupe. Nothing is certain in this world, not even tomorrow. So, let's fill today with a little more joy and laughter.

BWW: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS was one of Shakespeare's early plays, perhaps his first comedy. How do you think it compares with his more well-known comedies such as Midsummer Night's Dream or Much Ado About Nothing?

Stewart: Midsummer and Much Ado are a little more complex than the story of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS. They have romantic elements as well as strong central female characters such as Beatrice and Titania. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS lacks that depth and is a more low-brow type of humor. It's amazing how far we think we have come, though. Why is this weird 500-year-old semi-English masterpiece still funny? It's because 500 years ago, they might not have had some of the luxuries we have, but they acted very similar to how people are today. They were still people, like you, and like me. The story is filled with goofy characters that make assumptions that lead to ridiculous situations. Although not as fleshed out as some of his later work, every character has their psychological juicy secrets, naturally. It helps that it doesn't take a lot of effort to watch a comedy. Comedies remind us that sometimes it is more important to laugh and play in a world where we constantly seek to understand.

BWW: As playgoers, what should we watch for in this production that may help us enjoy it and understand it more?

Stewart: Sit back and enjoy the ride. If you're confused, just know the characters are just as clueless as you are until the twin reunion at the end of the play. Confusing this person for that and that person for this can get tedious over the course of an hour and a half, but Shakespeare spins it out in a masterful way that feels blissfully cathartic at the end.

BWW: How do you think or hope audiences will respond to this production?

Stewart: This is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular Shakespearean Luau. We're going to have food, games, entertainment, and best of all, Shakespeare! I hope people will flood in great numbers to join the Acorn Theatre Troupe in a Hawaiian celebration you won't want to miss!

BWW: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Stewart: We ask that the audience protect themselves from the spread of the COVID-19 virus by wearing a mask if possible. Feel free to bring a lawn chair or towel to sit on. Maybe even an umbrella, you never know with Louisiana weather. There will be a food truck and snowball machine, so come early to experience this once-in-a-lifetime Shakespearean Luau Party!

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS runs August 7 & 8 at 7:00 p.m. at Point-Marie in L'Auberge Casino.

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