Monday, June 24, 2013

The Question, June 24, 2013

Trains, Travel, Dust, Outlaws
by Estelle Rosen

Anna Lewis is an actor and theatre creator. Originally from Vancouver, she holds a BFA in Theatre from Concordia University, and is currently based in Ottawa. She can be found acting, designing, stage managing, directing, and teaching as opportunities allow. Most recently, she has designed costumes for Absurd Person Singular (SevenThirty Productions), developed the god Monologues for Faith and Arts Ottawa, and performed in Edmond (Chamber Theatre Hintonburg). Anna is a producing member of Bear and Co.

CHARPO:  As  director of  professional touring theatre company Bear & Co., why did you select The Comedy of Errors to tour city parks throughout Ottawa this summer?

LEWIS: I love Shakespeare, I love Shakespeare outdoors, and especially in the summer. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to do Shakespeare is in the open air, with the sun (or rain), and whatever unexpected challenges the uncontrolled environment can provide. The plays are at their best when they're an event. You don't know if a pet will join the actors on stage, or if the nearby splashpad will provide a counterpoint at opportune moments. Shakespeare may have been dead for a while now, but the plays live when they are shared directly with an audience. 

The idea to set it in the Old West emerged as I worked with it last summer

Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare's tightest, funniest farces. The idea to set it in the Old West emerged as I worked with it last summer: merchants, towns taking the law into their own hands, this town ain't big enough for the two of us. Think trains and travel and dust and outlaws; headstrong women, cowboys and sheriffs.

The restless cowboy suits Bear and Co's slightly vagabond approach to Shakespeare as well. We show up in a park with a box of costumes, a box of props, and a rope, which puts the focus squarely on the actors. Through direct interaction, a rich musical score, and up-close, immediate action, we create a sense of a particular time and place.  We're trying out a new staging - in the, well, square. We're putting the audience on four sides this year, as though the action was taking place in the main square of the town. 

Every venue is unique, and every kind of weather uncovers new dimensions in our playing. Each show is an event. There's probably one in your neighbourhood. Grab a blanket or a lawn chair. Bring a friend or a picnic. 

It's fun. 

We're doing this play because it'll send people home laughing.

Comedy of Errors details

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