We all remember our first time with a Shakespeare classic.
Trying to understand the complex language, falling in love with the characters, and being in awe of the twists and turns that come out of the ether. The iconic playwright’s works have been countlessly re-created over the years in films, parodies and TV shows, each incarnation finding fresh angles thanks to the rich source material.
Celebrated Australian theatre company Bell Shakespeare will be bringing their version of The Comedy of Errors to the Arts Centre this month and it promises to be a gripping and highly-contemporary take on one of the bard’s most entertaining romps.
Check out Melbourne’s latest stage shows and theatrical events here.
Like many shows premiering at the moment, The Comedy of Errors first came to life pre-lockdown and has managed to find a second coming, so we caught up with star of the show Felix Jozeps to dive into one of the must-see performances in your winter calendar.
“It’s been one of those projects that has been sitting there,” Felix says. “We were unsure whether it was ever going to be put on. I got cast in 2020, I was really excited to be cast and really looking forward to it.”
From years of uncertainty over its future, to now rapidly approaching its premiere, the cast and crew have endured a momentous journey and are now absolutely ready to dazzle their eagerly-anticipating audience.
“It all got confirmed at the end of last year, it was super exciting that it was going to go ahead with the group that we have, it’s a really special group,” Felix continues. “From the first rehearsal, I’ve been looking forward to working with all of these incredible artists.
Audiences will get to finally experience the show from July 13 this month, lighting up the Fairfax Studio with what Felix describes as a refreshing approach to theatrical production.
“It’s really great to be able to share what we’ve created together with an audience and premiering in Melbourne is super exciting for us too. Over the last five weeks, we’ve been building this show together. It’s really refreshing – it has been such a collaborative space and it’s going to be a very special production because we’ve been creating it together.
As their company name suggests, Bell Shakespeare are dedicated to the beloved works of the playwright, with a highly experienced and passionate team behind the scenes ensuring the company produces exceptional entertainment in a great working environment.
The Comedy of Errors is coming to life thanks to Bell Shakespeare and Janine Watson, who has been a staple of the theatre scene for a number of years, and brings her prowess to the director’s chair this time.
“It’s been really fun,” he says. “Janine, the director, and Samantha Chester, the movement director, have been working together for the first time – they have a very similar background in movement; and we’ve been working alongside them in a very co-operative, collaborative way. It’s just one of those rooms where everybody cares so much about the work and the story that we’re telling.
“It only takes one member of that ensemble to not be completely open or vulnerable with a group or party, to change the energy of the room and make a space that isn’t that safe. You really need to put yourself out there, which is what this show was really demanding us to do.”
“To put everything into our bodies, and inhabit the big words of Shakespeare, and the big themes that he gives us.”
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For those uninitiated in the acting world, taking on a Shakespearian role seems a tough feat. Felix has worked with Bell Shakespeare in several of their productions, so he’s able to fully grasp what needs to go into a role with complex material. In The Comedy of Errors, audiences will see Felix play one of the central roles – a twin, Antipholus of Ephesus, son of Egeon and Emilia.
“When you come into a play, you need to get it fresh every time,” he explains. “When I get a project to work on, I really dive into it, but I do try to approach it with as little preconceived ideas as to how they’ve been performed previously as possible.
“Usually, others will perform it in a way that represents the time of their performance. I really just try to play the given circumstances of what I think the character wants and where he fits in our version of the play, lots of that comes on day one in rehearsal.”
If you’re still unsure about making your way to the Arts Centre to see this incredible show, Felix notes some reasons why you should come.
“The Comedy of Errors covers a lot of themes that resonate with the idea of coming out of COVID and coming together – it’s really a celebration of coming together. It’s most of our first time back in a theatre, and it’s a really special show for that because these characters go through this huge journey.
“It’s about wishing and wanting to be together, that is what’s driving the characters.”
It’s also important to note that Bell Shakespeare’s version of The Comedy of Errors does honour a great deal of the original work, while adopting a unique perspective.
“We’ve worked really hard to create an ending that celebrates what is written in Shakespeare’s text,” Felix says. “There are little tweaks that we have made, to have this moment and make it really relevant to this time that we are in right now.
“It’s also time to come together and celebrate, we can be a community and find ourselves again.”
The Comedy of Errors is playing at the Arts Centre’s Fairfax Studio from July 13 to July 23, grab your tickets here.