Seton Hill kicks off season with Shakespeare farce
Seton Hill University theater students have a two-fold challenge with their season-opening production, William Shakespeare's classic farce, “Comedy of Errors.”
Not only are they working to interpret the poetic language of the 16th-century English playwright; they're also learning about the importance of comedic timing. Mastering both skills will be the key to a successful performance, says Robert C.T. Steele, adjunct instructor, theater and dance, who directs the student cast.
“It's fun to see their ‘light bulb' moments the first time a joke lands or a bit seamlessly runs,” Steele says. “Doing Shakespeare also insists that you fully know what you are saying and what you want to do to the other characters with your lines.”
For two of the cast members, William Smolter of Glenshaw and Domenic Jungling of Hampton, make those challenges “times two.” Smolter, a junior musical-theater and history major, and Jungling, a junior theater-performance major, both have roles in the comedy, each portraying identical twins.
Smolter plays Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse; Jungling is Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse.
“Antipholus of Syracuse comes to Ephesus to find his twin brother and his mother after years of separation,” Jungling says. “In the process, he is mistaken for his brother, and a number of hilarious shenanigans ensue. Antipholus of Syracuse is a very proper gentleman. He holds himself upright but is a humble and nice guy. His brother is virtually the opposite: brash, loud and a very angry human being.”
Jungling is up for the challenge of playing two different roles.
“I feel like it is a great test to myself as an actor,” he says. “I don't want the audience to think that the same guy is just dressing up in a slightly different costume. I want to make them believe they are witnessing two different characters.”
For Smolter, the hardest part of being two characters is when he has to change characters quickly in several scenes, going offstage as one of them and returning after only a few lines as the other.
Fortunately, Jungling and Smolter have some Shakespearean experience under their belts, having performed in Seton Hill's production of “The Tempest.”
Smolter feels that audiences will enjoy the classic Shakespearean comedy for several reasons, including visual elements that include an innovative set.
“The design elements are awesome,” he says. “I don't want to give away the design concept too soon, but, I promise you, it is going to amaze everyone that comes to see the show. As for the show itself, C.T. did a great job of making this play clear and concise so that the audience will be able to follow what we are saying and doing throughout the process.”
The director says “Comedy of Errors” presents a perfect opportunity for young actors to experience a Shakespearean comedy and “given its themes of dreams, time and mistaken identities, it also allows for great imagination.”
The Seton Hill student cast of “Comedy of Errors” also includes Gabriella DeCarli of DuBois, Joshua Dushack of Pittsburgh, Mike Hamilla of Masontown, Megan Henderson of Columbia, Md., Patrick McMahon of Gibsonia, Stephen Ray of Greensburg, Sienna Sears of St. Louis, Alyssa Marie Sheaffer of Carlisle, Natalie Spanner of Bethel Park, Emily Urbaniak of Pittsburgh and Eric Wielock of Leeper.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.