[Phoenix-eNews] PHOENIX THEATRE: BackstagePASS > Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" gets a pop musical reboot!

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Mon Mar 12 17:20:36 PDT 2018

@UVic Newsletter
Phoenix Theatre: BackstagePASS
	March 2018 • Act 11 Scene 4

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      eNews: Shakespeare for the iTunes generation

Everyone has had to study Shakespeare. Many of us love his clever 
wordplay, hilarious plots, and illuminating metaphors, but others 
struggle to hear the meaning in his verse. What if the international 
language of music could help us better appreciate The Bard's genius? if 
you are a young person, what better music than the songs you love to 
help bridge cultures, from the 16th century to today. Read more about 
our pop musical adaptation of /*The Comedy of Errors*/ below and 
consider bringing the teenager, or young person in your life to 
experience the magic of Shakespeare.

      Behind the Scenes: */"With what's happening in our world, we need
      laughter, silly belly laughter, and not the sort born of cynicism" /*

Shakespeare’s funniest and shortest comedy is getting a reboot for the 
digital age.

Director and self-professed Shakespeare nerd, Jeffrey Renn is currently 
completing his MFA in Directing at the Department of Theatre. Working 
and learning side-by-side with other students here at UVic, he became 
inspired to create a Shakespeare production that would truly engage this 
iTunes generation. This week, he will open his unique adapatation of 
*/The Comedy of Errors/*, a version of the play that intermixes 
Shakespearean verse into contemporary music, for a pop musical and 
Broadway-esque experience.

Renn isn’t new to acting, directing, or reinterpreting the Bard. From 
the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts to Stratford, the Shaw 
Festival and Broadway, Renn has performed Shakespeare across the world.

/“I have been blessed to work with rare artistic genius when it comes to 
Shakespeare,”/ Renn said, /“including the legendary Robin Phillips,// ”/ 
(the Artistic Director that put the Stratford Festival on the map, who 
sadly passed away in 2015 ). /“Now I want to be able to have young 
people as excited about The Bard’s work as I am.”/

/“I am grateful to have been included in a traditional process of 
giving, sharing, and playing that was taught to me by my theatre 
mentors. There’s now a line that travels through Shakespeare, back to 
the Greeks, and forward to these amazing young artists on stage today.”/

Renn feels that one of the platforms from where culture advances is the 
world of music videos, where cutting edge technology is a shared 
vocabulary, uniquely driven by youth themselves. Similarly, he feels 
that Shakespearean theatre was the music video of Shakespeare’s day.

As such, he wanted his pop musical adaptation of */The Comedy of 
Errors/* to look and feel like a contemporary music video. Set in New 
Orleans during modern day Mardi Gras festivities, mirrors are used 
extensively to create various club-like environments and extend the 
themes of reflection right into the audience!

Finding inspiration in songs by Nina Simone, Queen, Beyoncé, Justin 
Timberlake and more, Renn adapted the play with music, integrating 
Shakespeare’s actual verse in versions of the songs that he hopes will 
help young people better relate to the themes of the play.

*/The Comedy of Errors/* is a hilarious, intricately-entangled farce of 
mistaken identity that was first told in Roman times. It tells the tale 
of two sets of twins, separated at birth, who find themselves in the 
same city (and coincidentally, also have the same name). As their worlds 
collide, chaos ensues and they end up questioning their own identity. 
The whole crazy farcical mix-up resolves into a tale of family reunion, 
love, and self-reflection.

/“Young people have always been searching for a sense of meaning, a 
sense of recognition. In order to know ourselves, we mimic behaviour, we 
mirror it – or in the vernacular of music culture, we are sampling it, 
making a mashup,”/ said Renn./“Today, millennials understand the journey 
of self-identity as a performative act – framing and reframing their 
world through their digital devices... This play holds up a mirror and 
asks the question 'Who am I?' I wanted to change the play’s context to 
help students see themselves through Shakespeare’s words, to have fun, 
and make it theirs,”/ said Renn.

And what fun they are having! To ensure the authentic sound of youth 
culture,  fourth-year student Aidan Dunsmuir fills the auditorium with 
his energetic sound design. Lights explode on to the stage, and 
colourful spandex and bling bring out the outlandish costumes of Mardi 
Gras parades, as well as the razzle dazzle of the club scene, with 
costumes designed by fourth-year student Jivan Bains-Wood. Fast-paced 
choreography by Christina Penhale, ofSalt Spring Island’s exitStageLeft 
<https://www.facebook.com/exitstageleftproductions/>, and a clever 
glow-in-the-dark skeleton dance (with high-tech EL Wire suits designed 
and programmed by fourth-year student Matthew Wilkerson) completes the 
allusion to music video aesthetics.

/“We’re adapting Shakespeare’s adaptation of a Roman play that is almost 
two thousand years old,”/ said Renn, /“proving that our basic humanity 
really hasn’t changed since then./ /We might live differently, 
technologically//, but we’re still the same. We still have our human 
foibles, and we’re still really funny/ /… //And with what’s happening in 
our world, we need laughter, silly belly laughter and not the sort born 
of cynicism.”/


      Upcoming Phoenix Events:

*March 15- 24, 2018*// 
By William Shakespeare
Adapted & Directed by
Jeffrey Renn

Mystery and mayhem are at the heart of Shakespeare’s shortest and 
funniest comedy that features a pair of twins – twice! Twenty years 
after they are separated in a storm at sea, the twins find themselves 
swept up in Mardi Gras celebrations and everyone gets mistaken for 
everyone else. This pop musical reboot of the 16th-century farce will 
have you dancing in the aisles to songs inspired by artists from Nina 
Simone to Beyoncé, and Queen to Justin Timberlake.

*Previews: *Tuesday & Wednesday, March 13 & 14 at 8pm
Preview tickets are $8 and available only after 5pm on these preview 
*Preshow Lecture:* Friday March 16 at 7pm
Director Jeffrey Renn discusses adaptations of Shakespeare plays he has 
been involved with over the years.
*Evenings: *Mondays through Saturdays at 8pm
*Matinees:* Saturdays March 17 and 24 at 2pm

*BOX OFFICE* is now open. Tickets 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/phoenix/tickets/> are $16-$26


      Phoenix Phacts: Student and alumni stories

Current student and 2016 Youth Poet Laureate, *Ann-Bernice Thomas,* was 
an opening performer at the /Evening of Spoken Word Poetry Rock, Blues, 
Soul Music/, presented in celebration of Black History Month at the 
Belfry Theatre. Ann-Bernice is a theatre and writing double major and 
talks about their UVic experience in this university profile. 

Theatre Inconnu, <http://www.theatreinconnu.com> founded by alumnus 
*Clayton Jevne (BFA '85, MFA '87 & PhD '03)*, is known as the longest 
surviving alternative theatre company in town. Their spring production 
of /Neva/ by Guillermo Calderon, was directed by Jevne and featured 
current theatre and writing student *Nicholas Guerreiro*. Reviews were 
great for this edgy production, called “invigorating, provocative and 
absolutely hilarious” in the Times Colonist. Coming up at Theatre 
Inconnu, alumnus *Matt McLaren (BFA’14)* is directing /The Tennant 
Haymovitch/ by Ariel Bronze, running May 1–19.

Langham Court Theatre's sold out production of /Sense and Sensibility 
continues until March 17 and features the 18th century-inspired costume 
designs of alumna *Hana Ruzesky-Bashford (BFA'17)* and performances by 
*Katt Campbell (BFA '08)*.

Theatre and writing alumnus *Mark Leiren-Young (BFA’ 85) *has another 
play opening this spring. /Bar Mitzvah Boy /is about a successful lawyer 
who has to rethink his idea of faith when he is forced to take Bar 
Mitzvah classes. /Bar Mitzvah Boy 
at Pacific Theatre 
in Vancouver from March 23 – April 14 and has also been chosen to open 
the season of the Chester Theatre in Pittsfield Massachusetts from June 
21-July 1. Mark is also the writer of the film /The Hundred-Year-Old 
Whale/ which was just nominated for a WGC Screenwriting Award for Best 
Documentary <http://www.wgc.ca/cscs_awards/2018_finalists.html>.

Alumna*Jenny Edwards (BFA ‘06)* was just named the Box Office Manager at 
Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary. Congratulations Jenny!

*Emily Piggford (BFA’11)* is acting in /Flatliners/, the new TV series 
about medical students who experiment with the near-death experiences 
that also stars Ellen Page (show right with Piggford) and Kiefer Sutherland.

Last week's *IdeaFest at UVic <https://www.uvic.ca/ideafest/>*featured 
over 40 lectures and events about “ideas that can change everything!” 
Topics ranged from climate change and chamber music to Indigenous law, 
optimistic art, antibiotic resistance and more. UVic Fine Arts offered 
five events this year including /Beyond the Digital Frontier: Exploring 
Digital/ (March 7 at 5-6:30pm), an hands-on, interactive, drop-in event 
showcasing recent innovations in the world of digital media. Our 
Assistant Technical Director and alumnus *Simon Farrow (BFA ’13)* 
showcased new theatre technology.

Next week, from March 19 – 23, UVic hosts /*5 Days of Action: Courageous 
<https://www.uvic.ca/equity/education/5-days-action/index.php>/, a week 
of events that aims to re-establish commitment towards ending 
discrimination, harassment and sexualized violence. Current 
undergraduate students *Lauren Frost, Devon Goldie, Nathan Harvey, Alida 
Kelly, J**asmine Li, **Bridget Roberts, *and current PhD candidate 
*Taiwo Afolabi*, will offer performances and workshops throughout the 
week. Another presentation features *Jessica Burdge, Hannah Bell, Hannah 
Allin, Brennan Tack *and*Tegan Morris*, all students in our second year 
Applied Theatre class. Visit uvic.ca/5days 
<https://www.uvic.ca/equity/education/5-days-action/index.php>for more 

*Want more alumni stories?* Check out the Alumni Profiles 
<http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> area of our website. Recognize 
anyone? If you're alumni, please tell us what you've been up to. Submit 
<https://finearts.uvic.ca/forms/phoenixalumnisurvey/biography//> your 
<http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> bio online 
<http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/alumni/> and we will add your profile 
to the website!


the most recent Phoenixi stories by liking us on*Facebook* 
or following us on *Twitter <https://twitter.com/UVicPhoenix>*. Use 
*#phoenixalumni* to stream on our alumni website or tag *@UVicPhoenix* 
for us to retweet your event!


      Sponsor Kudos:

Thank you to the Phoenix Theatre's many individual donors 
<http://finearts.uvic.ca/theatre/donations/> and corporate sponsors for 
their support of our programs and talented 

Thank you to our new/Production Resource Partner /*Production Canada* 
<http://productioncanada.com>, a company dedicated to helping our 
student designers realize their creative ideas on stage.

Thanks also to our /Community Partners /from the *Cadboro Bay Village* 
<http://www.cadborobayvillage.com> including: *For Good Measure 
<http://www.forgoodmeasure.ca/>, Pepper's Foods 
<http://peppers-foods.com/>, Smugglers' Cove Pub, 
<http://www.smugglerscovepub.com/> Caddy Bay Liquor Store 
<http://www.caddybayliquor.com>, and* *Heart Pharmacy 

Find out how your company can reach our 10,000 audience members and UVic 
community of over 25,000.Contact us <mailto:aholierh at uvic.ca> to discuss 
a customized sponsorship package to meet your goals.


Phoenix eNews is a regular email magazine for those interested in the 
Phoenix Theatre, the not-for-profit productions at the University of 
Victoria's Department of Theatre, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria, BC, 
V8W 2Y2 Canada. The University of Victoria is a Registered Charity. 
Charitable Registration No. 10816 2470 RR0001

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