Theatre Georgian Bay is putting the slapstick in Shakespeare, and is inviting audiences to take in the story of port-town merchants with Collingwood’s port in the background.
The theatre collective has returned to Collingwood’s Shipyard Amphitheatre for the fourth-annual Bard on the Bay Shakespeare festival with a Comedy of Errors.
While the bard’s words remain mostly intact, a few changes by director Candy Pryce ensure the performance pays homage to Georgian Bay.
While Shakespeare’s comedy is set in Ephesus, a coastal town on the Mediterranian, Theatre Georgian Bay’s production set it in Collingwood, with Georgian Bay playing the role of the Mediterranian and Barrie filling in for Syracuse - the rival port town to Ephesus/Collingwood.
"Again, if any Barrie born come to the bay of Collingwood, he dies," states Solinus, Duke of Collingwood (played by Pryce) at the play's outset.
Pryce said it was a happy coincidence when she noticed an upside-down version of Georgian Bay placed over the Mediterranian Sea shows Collingwood and Barrie in nearly the same areas as Ephesus and Syracuse – with a little theatrical imagination added, it works.
If you're not familiar with the story line, there is a set of twins both named Antipholus, and they are given servants, another set of twins, both named Dromio. They live about 20 years of their lives without any confusion since one Antipholus/Dromio pair lives in Ephesus (Collingwood) and the other pair lives in Syracuse. So when the latter arrives in Ephesus (or Collingwood in this case). Then ensues several dramatic cases of mistaken identity, complete with stage combat, a courtezan, and fart jokes – thus a Comedy of Errors.
The cast of ten includes three amateur actors/volunteers and seven professional actors. The play is about one-and-a-half hours long and makes use of the entire amphitheatre for various scenes in different parts of Collingwood.
“It’s good and bad,” said Pryce. “We’re competing with the sound of the birds and the weather and the boats … but there’s joy in that as well.”
After all, a well-timed “squawk” from a goose can really make a joke.
Bard on the Bay began in 2016 on the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with performances of Twelfth Night. In 2017, it was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and last year was As You Like It.
The collective began with members from Collingwood, Meaford, and Owen Sound. Pryce hails from Barrie, and she said there are now a number of members from Barrie in the group.
While this is Pryce's first acting role in the Bard on the Bay production, but she’s been involved in all four festivals as director and stage manager.
She’s glad the collective has continued the Bard on the Bay feature, and she said the group plans all year for each of the outdoor performances, with a goal of bringing professional theatre to Collingwood.
“It feels really good,” said Pryce. “It’s just something that brings joy to the world and that can bever be wrong.”
The Bard on the Bay performances are pay-what-you-can admission, with a recommended donation of $15. There will also be food and beverage trucks at some of the performances.
You can catch Theatre Georgian Bay’s Comedy of Errors at the Shipyards Amphitheatre at the north end of Maple Street tonight, and every Monday until Aug. 5 at 6 p.m., every Saturday from now through Aug. 3 at 6 p.m., and on Sundays including July 14 (2 p.m.) July 28 (2 p.m. and 6 p.m.) and Aug. 4 (2 p.m.).
Theatre Georgian Bay is a profit-share collective, so the donations received at the performances will be shared among the actors performing. Pryce said they have not yet been paid for their work on the show.
The collective is currently working on achieving a non-profit status in order to qualify for arts grants.