The Comedy of Errors: what we know so far

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The Comedy of Errors: what we know so far

The first show of our 2020 season will be Shakespeare’s hilarious play, The Comedy of Errors. The plot is…confusing, but to sum it up: There are two sets of twins who were separated as babies: the separated Antipholus twins, who are served each by a separated twin named Dromio. Yes, Antipholus has a twin brother named Antipholus, and Dromio has a twin brother named Dromio. The brothers and their brothers are split up by a terrible shipwreck: their father ends up in Syracuse with one Antipholus and Dromio, and the the other Antipholus and Dromio end up in rival town Ephesus. Got it? Eighteen years later, Antipholus of Syracuse leave town to search the world over for his lost brother Antipholus. When after five years they didn’t return, their father went after them, only to be arrested in Ephesus on the way home. Meanwhile, the traveling Syracusians Antipholus and Dromio arrive in Ephesus, where they are mistaken for the Ephesian Antipholus and Dromio. Over the course of an afternoon, comedies (and errors!) ensue along with mistaken identity, cultural differences, and family reunions.

With over 6 months to go, lots can change, but here’s what else we know about our upcoming production of The Comedy of Errors!

Jessica Holt, the director, is from the Bay Area: “I grew up in Burlingame. I was down in LA for a while for undergrad and then came back to the Bay Area and lived in Berkeley and Oakland for quite a while, cutting my teeth as a younger director before I went off to grad school at Yale. I’m really thrilled to be back here. To be engaged in the conversations that are happening here in the Bay Area is deeply meaningful to me, and working at Cal Shakes is truly a dream. I have a really deep affinity for the Bay Area and feel like it’s home.”

…and The Comedy of Errors was the first show she acted in: “I was 15 years old. I played the goldsmith. I have really funny memories in my head, like doing a chase scene to the William Tell Overture… chasing Antipholus and Dromio around the auditorium of my high school. My high school drama teacher’s really excited.”

Jessica and Eric Ting have both directed Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present…. (seen at Shotgun in 2017): “I had seen Eric’s production, and when I met him I waxed rhapsodic and picked his brain about it. And he shared some incredibly useful intel that I don’t know if I’ve thanked him for. But he said ‘start the rhythm on day one’. And it saved us. So thank you, Eric!”

Like many popular comedies at the Bruns, there will be live music in this production! “It feels like this is a world where music happens, whether it’s the courtesan’s nightclub world or  if perhaps Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse had guitars and banjos with them on their journey, or there’s music that accompanies Adriana’s dinner hour. So I’ve been encouraging all of our actors to come in and share and have already been super inspired by what they’ve brought in.”

Sometimes (as in our 2014 production with Danny Scheie and Adrian Danzig), two actors play both pairs of twins. In this production, there will be individual actors for each pair.  “I think it’s important that we tell the story of a family that’s truly ripped apart and one brother is looking for his long-lost brother. I’ve been inspired by the image of “the airport hug” when families reunite after long separations— in this story, this family comes back together and they have a true moment of wonder, they are in the presence of something awesome. It’s an extraordinary moment where they marvel: “How did this happen that we are all here in this time, in this place, right here, right now, brother and brother, and brother and brother, and father and mother and…we’re all here. And we all get to touch each other!” That seems really important.”

Subscription packages for 2020 are available now. Single tickets go on sale in the spring. 


Jessica Holt (Director) is thrilled to make her Cal Shakes directing debut with The Comedy of Errors. Selected directing credits include: Sense and Sensibility, Fun HomeVenus in Fur (Virginia Stage Company), The Resting PlaceBright Half Life, Act 5 of Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge (Magic Theatre), The Daughters by Patricia Cotter (San Francisco Playhouse), and Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino (Alliance Theater), among others. Additionally, she has developed and directed work at Santa Cruz Shakespeare, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Rivendell Theatre, NYU, Pocono Mountains Music Festival, AADA, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Sewanee Writers Conference, Cutting Ball Theater, among others.  She received her MFA in Directing from the Yale School of Drama where she directed Twelfth NightThe Seagull and The Children, a new hip-hop musical by Philip Howze. She was the Artistic Director of the 40th Anniversary season of the Yale Summer Cabaret where she directed We Are Proud to Present… and Why Torture is Wrong… She is currently developing the new musical The Code by The Kilbanes commissioned by A.C.T’s Young Conservatory and the new play The Last White Man by Bill Cain.   She is a 2016-2017 O’Neill National Directing Fellow, and proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. 

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Creative Content Manager Alicia Coombes talks with some of Cal Shakes’ Scenic Department: Steven Schmidt, Micaela Sinclair, Tenaya Raives, and Charlotte Wheeler. Transcript Alicia C

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