Shakespearean comedy gets a USF twist

USF’s production of The Comedy of Errors is the 10th anniversary of The British International Theatre program. The BRIT program allows USF students to work with high-level professional artists from Europe.

Francis Matthews, director for The Comedy of Errors, said his experience with this year’s USF students in the BRIT program is a success so far. This is Matthews’ sixth year involved with the BRIT program and he said he is enjoying his short time here.

The play, written by William Shakespeare, is performed at USF this week. Matthews will direct 18 USF students in this production, which will include dance, comedy and live music.

“These students have a lot to give,” Matthews said. “In certain areas they have more to give than professionals because they have an unjaded enthusiasm, which is priceless. When you have the quantity of talent, that these students have, married to the unjaded enthusiasm, you have the possibility of creating something very good.”

The setting of the play is on a Caribbean island during the 1950s. Two sets of twins are separated, and several years later they find each other in the same town. Mistaken identities, mix-ups and numerous jokes are the entertainment of this Shakespearean play. One student said that the play’s form will allow the audience to watch the play without having to think of its Shakespearean structure.

“In spite of it being in verse, iambic pentameter and poetry, it’s very easy to understand,” said Justin McQuaig, a USF student who will be performing in the play. “Shakespeare can be hard when you read it, but when it’s read out loud, so you can hear it, and with action on stage … everything just crystallizes.”

USF graduate Joanna Strange, assistant director/stage manager for the play, said it was difficult to return to the theatre program because she has to supervise her friends.

“The hardest part is that I’ve known most of these guys for three years, and they are all my friends,” Strange said. “These are people that you go to parties with, people you study with and people you joke around in class with, and I’ve now graduated.”

“So it can be really difficult making them listen to me or even being assertive on my part because I’ve known them all for a while.”

Michael Innocenti, a USF student who plays the father of twins, said he has to restrict the motion of his hands.

“I talk a lot with my hands, so it forces me to concentrate on what I am saying, as far as the meaning of the words,” Innocenti said.

The Comedy of Errors will be performed in Theatre 1 on the USF Tampa Campus. Show dates are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. and Feb. 20-23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Group rates are available for adults, as well. For more information or to purchase tickets call the USF box office (813) 974-2323.