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Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors coming to the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod

Antipholus of Heifersus (Dan Perryman) smacks Dromio of Heifersus for something his twin Dromio of Syracuse has done as Miss Kitty (Addison Gatner in red dress) and Luciana (Halla Wagner in pink dress) come running. Photo by Richard Amery

Antipholus of Heifersus (Dan Perryman) smacks Dromio of Heifersus for something his twin Dromio of Syracuse has done as Miss Kitty (Addison Gatner in red dress) and Luciana (Halla Wagner in pink dress) come running. Photo by Richard Amery

Antipholus of Heifersus (Dan Perryman) and Dromio of Heifersus (Cole Fetting) are confused about why they have been locked out of their own house by  Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) who has his hands full with Maude (Jolayne Arnoldussen) and who has been mistaken for his twin Dromio of Heifersus). Photo by Richard Amery

Antipholus of Heifersus (Dan Perryman) and Dromio of Heifersus (Cole Fetting) are confused about why they have been locked out of their own house by Dromio of Syracuse (Jordan Payne) who has his hands full with Maude (Jolayne Arnoldussen) and who has been mistaken for his twin Dromio of Heifersus). Photo by Richard Amery

One of the Bard’s popular plays gets a western twist when it comes to the stage of the Empress Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5.
Director Ron Chambers has set Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors in a southern Alberta cowboy town in the late 19th century.
For the second year in a row, the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society is bringing its Shakespeare in the Park show, performed at Galt Gardens through July and August, to the Empress Theatre.
The society also staged The Comedy of Errors on Sunday at the Coutts Centre near Nanton.
“Each year, we’re looking at trying to expand and take Shakespeare a little further out than just in Lethbridge,” producer Kate Connolly said. “We hope this is going to be an annual event.”
Last year, the society staged Romeo and Juliet at the Empress and the Coutts Centre.
“I have a particular personal reason to want to bring our performances to the Empress,” Connolly said. “I remember the days when it was a thriving place for summer repertoire theatre. Those really were the days.”
That tradition started in the 1980s with Great West Theatre and was revived for a few years in the early 2000s when the Empress hired a summer theatre staff to present two plays.
“I would love to see more live theatre being performed in that beautiful, historic theatre,” Connolly said. “Dramatic theatre, I think it’s a perfect setting for it.”
“We’re very happy to bring Shakespere there, even if it’s just for one night.”
University of Lethbridge professor and playwright Chambers is no stranger to Fort Macleod, having been commissioned to write the play to commemorate the Empress Theatre’s centennial in 2012.
Chambers wanted to put a twist on The Comedy of Errors, which Shakespeare set in a mythical Greek location, by setting it in southern Alberta in a “cowboy town.”
The costumes and some of the dialogue, including western slang, will reflect that western setting as part of the “cowboyification” of the Shakespeare play.
The cast is made up of U of L theatre students and graduates, as well as community actors.
“It is a nice mix,” Connolly said. “The same is true for our production team. It’s a good partnership we have with the university and local theatre groups.”
The non-profit Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society has performed Shakespeare in the Park for six years, giving 14 to 16 performances each year at Galt Gardens.
Audiences average about 300 people a night, and that number is growing.
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of identical twins separated soon after birth in a shipwreck. Each was saved, with his own twin servant.
Now young men, the long lost twin brothers wind up in the same western town with their twin servants, unbeknownst to each other.
Hilarity ensues as the young men and servants are mistaken for one another constantly by the local residents.
“It’s very, very lively and fast-moving, and quite slapstick in some ways,” Connolly said. “There’s a lot of physical comedy.”
“It’s really the kind of show where you sit back and have a good laugh, but you’re still getting the original words of Shakespeare.”

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