May 26, 2022

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Riverside Theatre putting Nashville spin on Shakespeare

Both of those of Riverside Theatre’s totally free Shakespeare in the Park choices this summer months involve mistaken identities and people torn asunder and flung to overseas lands, whirling their way towards surprising endings.

That is the place the similarities finish.

Riverside Theatre is shaking up Shakespeare by placing a state spin on “The Comedy of Problems.” The engage in, infused with audio and dancing, will be done free of charge of charge Aug. 13 to 22 on the Festival Stage in Iowa City’s Decreased Metropolis Park. (Farrar Structure Studios)

Whilst “The Winter’s Tale,” staged in July, commenced with tragedies in the very first half, then morphed into hilarity and a magical ending in the second 50 percent, “The Comedy of Errors” is humorous all the way by means of.

The motion unfolds Aug. 13 to 22 on the Competition Stage in Iowa City’s Lower Town Park.

But don’t anticipate the merry band of actors to transport you to Elizabethan England with neck ruffs and breeches. This comedy do-si-dos to 1960s-’70s Nashville, with rhinestone cowboys and ladies.

‘The Comedy of Errors’

What: Shakespeare in the Park

In which: Riverside Theatre’s Competition Phase, Lessen Town Park, 200 Park Rd., Iowa Metropolis

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13 to 15 to 19 to 22

Admission: Absolutely free, no ticket required

Extras: Seating is initially-occur, masks not essential, socially distanced section readily available lawn actions and foods trucks at 6:30 p.m.


That presents the solid “a ton of playful possibilities,” mentioned visitor director Angie Toomsen, creative director at Theatre Cedar Rapids.

The plot, the towns and names continue to be the very same, even so.

The plot

Two sets of equivalent twins from Syracuse — a merchant’s sons and the twin boys who serve them — are separated by a shipwreck. To make issues much more fascinating, the merchant’s sons are both equally named Antipholus and the servants are equally named Dromio.

One particular Antipholus and Dromio return to their household in Syracuse with the service provider, and the other Antipholus and Dromio clean ashore in Ephesus with the merchant’s wife.

All expend their times and many years yearning and on the lookout for every single other, until 23 years afterwards, the Syracuseans journey to Ephesus on their quest, location into movement a madcap sequence of mistaken identification scenarios.

The drama is heightened by a vacation ban concerning the two Mediterranean cities — Syracuse on today’s island of Sicily and Ephesus on today’s western shore of Turkey. Upon moving into Ephesus, merchant Egeon is arrested and sentenced to dying for crossing this line. To even further roil the turmoil, include in some simmering girls and a stolen gold chain.

Dromio of Ephesus (Ray Vanek, left), follows Antipholus of Ephesus (Logan Ernstthal) down the aisle through a latest rehearsal of “The Comedy of Faults.” Riverside Theatre’s free Shakespeare in the Park creation will be performed Aug. 13 to 22 on the Competition Stage in Iowa City’s Reduce City Park. (Farrar Design Studios)

“This setup is perfect for a series of mistaken identity and hilarious times where 1 twin encounters the other twin’s servant and they miscalculation (just about every other) for the close friend they’ve developed up with,” Toomsen mentioned. “One twin’s wife thinks the stranger in town is her partner, but he’s behaving in a way that confirms for her all of her insecurities, revealing a marital fragility.

“And it just form of snowballs into a seriously heightened, dramatic and really amusing situation — but then we get some resolution to it when a shock emerges that will make perception of it all.”

Nashville twist

But why give it a late ’60s/early ’70s Nashville twist — or any twist at all?

“There is a little something so poetic and archetypal and universal about Shakespeare, thematically and structurally,” Toomsen stated. “It lets for wild creative imagination and interpretations due to the fact it truly is so structurally tethered. You’ve got normally received this actually solid foundation considerably, retaining your feet on the ground. Mainly because of that, it unleashes so a lot resourceful opportunity, and which is why it is attractive” to re-envision the placing.

“When we direct Shakespeare or reinterpret Shakespeare, whether we’re playwrights or not, we get to turn out to be an inventor and we get to be as wildly innovative as we really should be at all occasions. There are actually no rules, and there’s a thing really enjoyable about that, simply because it lets us to create a universe that hasn’t seriously existed prior to — preferably without getting too significantly astray, for the reason that the text and the story are so distinct and nicely structured.“

It’s also a opportunity to seriously ponder the parallels concerning the 17th and 20th centuries.

“As we were being thinking about what may possibly Ephesus be for us — what world and what universe would greatest unleash our creative imagination with this solid and reveal the story in an thrilling new way for us both equally visually and from a overall performance standpoint,” Toomsen explained, “we commenced imagining about Nashville as type of the Vegas of state new music and the place exactly where, specially at that time, aspiring musicians would come and land from all corners of the nation — and even the earth — and try to make their mark.

“It felt like a seriously powerful parallel for the Syracuseans who are plugged into this planet that they’re actually not supposed to be in legally. But it’s a place that also feels extremely foreign to them, which would have been real as Shakespeare wrote these metropolitan areas. Ephesus and Syracuse would have felt like quite unique cultures,” she mentioned.

That opened the door for the Riverside troupe’s creative license, total with place new music, state star references and some hip-to-be-square dancing throughout the stage.

Region new music also pulsed as a result of Toomsen’s childhood.

“This is really all-natural for me,” she said, considering that her father played in a state band. “I put in a lot of evenings and weekends in Legion Halls and small city fairs throughout Iowa. I associate so significantly of that era of nation tunes with my dad and my relatives. New music has continued to be a seriously typical element for my relatives. My brother has a band, and we hardly ever have a spouse and children gathering in which the guitars never come out.”

She has specifically loved the study aspects of the theatrical transfer to Nashville.

“It’s just been genuinely nostalgic for me to dig into this era and to dive even farther than I ever did, to understand far more than I at any time did at the time,” she stated.

She grew up on television’s “Hee Haw,” but this time about, viewed the complete Ken Burns documentary, “Country New music in The us,” and checked out storytelling podcasts.

Acquiring proper to the coronary heart of the subject, she and a cast member even traveled to Nashville in June, examining out the Country Songs Corridor of Fame, as properly as “all the renowned minor boot and hat retailers,” she mentioned.

“We really dove in, and it was extremely exciting.”

It is all in the title of creating connections.

“Country tracks are all about storytelling,” Toomsen stated. “They’re all about daily life and love and reduction, and the best highs and cheapest lows — large drama. Nation new music and Shakespearean comedy are both extremely available and there’s seriously abundant crossroads amongst them. We’re discovering that so lots of of the passages in this perform sense like nation tunes, and we’re owning a really terrific time filtering the tale and the Shakespearean text via this concept.”

Responses: (319) 368-8508 [email protected]