Classic Shakespeare with a modern twist

By Daynie Rivera

Southern California Shakespeare Festival is back and bigger than ever for its 13 season.

This year’s production of William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” updates the setting to Venice and San Diego.

When you think of Shakespeare you imagine settings in ancient Greece, however this year they bring it back with an exciting modern twist. Ephesus becomes Venice Beach and Syracuse becomes San Diego.

The play is all about mistaken identity, and its ridiculous comedic nature is what makes it an exciting one to bring alive on stage.

“I wanted to do a comedy where the language is the same, but the place is different. It’s a fun play and it celebrates Southern California,” Artistic Director of SCSF Linda Besesti said.

The “Comedy of Errors” is over 400 years old and tells a story of what happens when two sets of twins are separated at birth and meet for the first time years later.

It’s fun to see their journey through a series of confusion and chaos among family and friends.

The play debuted Sept. 7 at the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre. The show will continue to run through September and the beginning of October.

General admission tickets are $20, and $15 for students, staff and senior citizens.

Behind the creative and innovative approach to this rendition of the play was the Director Sam Robinson. He wanted the audience to really enjoy the story and its characters, and create an environment everyone could appreciate.

He not only inverted the gender of characters, but also brought Venice Beach to life though the pre-show. As you walk in you are greeted by tap dancers, magicians, Snow White and I Love Lucy to name a few.

“I lived in Venice for 14 years and I was looking for a concept that would capture the aspect of the show that is related to coming from another place,” Robinson said.

Linda Besesti originally created the SCSF in 2004 with her students in mind. She wanted to make sure to provide them with a professional experience before going out into the real world.

This year’s cast includes both current Cal Poly Pomona students and alumni.

Third-year theatre student Kaitlyn Tice dressed up as Snow White and sang an array of Disney songs during the pre-show like Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.

She is also on the board of SCSF, and with a background in directing and choreography she was able to bring her character to life in only four weeks.

“This play is really fun, and makes you reevaluate your own perceptions,” Tice said.

Alumnus Nathanial Akstin-Johnson has worked tirelessly to perfect his role as Dromeo of San Diego. He has also been a part of the SCSF for six seasons, and looks forward to entertaining his audience.

Although Shakespeare can seem a bit intimidating this play is fun and easy to follow. Witty characters, modern feel and subtle changes incorporated by the director, make this play appealing to a wide audience.

If you’ve never seen a Shakespeare play this one is the one to consider watching.

For more events like this you may visit The Theatre and New Dance Department, Headed by Linda Bisesti. More information may also be found in Building 25 or posted around campus.

Cast of the "Comedy of Errors"

Cast of the “Comedy of Errors”

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