John Burroughs High School Drama department presents their final performance of the school year with William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The play opens Friday evening, May 8, and runs through Sunday afternoon, May 10. JBHS Drama’s performance continues to use Shakespearean language, but has been updated to included musical and other elements for comedic and contemporary effect.
The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most farcical plays, according to Drama teacher and director Guy Myers. The comedy tells the story of two sets of identical twins who were accidentally separated at birth. Years later, Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio arrive in Ephesus, which also turns out to be the home of their long lost twin brothers who, to add to the confusion, also happen to have exactly the same names.
“When they encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities end in hilarious slapstick results, including wrongful beatings and arrest, unlikely romances and accusations of infidelity, theft, madness and demonic possession!” explained Myers. “The physical comedy and constant confusion of Shakespeare’s masterpiece is sure to delight and entertain audiences of all ages!”
“Ultimately the play is about the search for family and self, but told through the comic lens of mistaken identity, constant confusion and wacky mishaps.”
Senior Sawyer Patterson portrays Antipholus of Ephesus while junior Daniel Beimford plays Antipholus of Syracuse. Junior Nick Apostolina is Dromio of Syracuse and senior James Conkle portrays Dromio of Ephesus. Adriana is played by junior Madison Mayer, senior Mina Shadrick is Luciana and junior Matt Bond is Egeon.
Senior Ella Essiambre has been the Drama department’s student producer since the end of her freshman year at Burroughs, for a total of four years in the position.
“My first show was Once in a Lifetime and it opened up a new passion in my life,” commented Essiambre. “I love being able to be of something that results in a large number of people seeing what I helped make happen and enjoy it.”
The graduating senior plans to continue producing and will major in film at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the fall.
“I do hope I can help with theater again in my future as doing so at John Burroughs for so long has gotten me where I am today,” Essiambre added. “It has showed me who I want to be and I will be forever grateful for that.”
Mayer explains her character, Adriana, “She is victim to the great amount of confusion occurring around her. I love what Adriana stands for. Amongst a show of absurdity, Adriana represents an unwillingness to give in to her husband’s bidding.”
“She is a strong female lead who believes she, as a wife, deserves just as much as any husband, and her rage stems from the dissonance between her beliefs and her situation,” Mayer added. “The show as a whole has been such a pleasure to be in for the reason that there is nothing like acting completely ridiculous among comrades.”
“It’s near impossible to be in a bad mood during rehearsals, because everyone is giggling their troubles away. We get to make complete fools of ourselves while still maintaining integrity through the genius that is William Shakespeare.”
“I really enjoy my role in The Comedy of Errors because I get to be in several fight scenes,” commented Conkle. “After graduation I plan on becoming an actor. I have taken two years of drama with Mr. Myers and those two years have improved my acting skills to a great degree. The class has also given me so many great friends and tons of memories with them.”
“I love Luciana; playing her is such a joy because she’s so consistently upbeat, kind-hearted and open-minded,” added Shadrick. “She cares for her sister more than anything. She has so much love that she gives to everyone and she just wants to be loved in return, and of course that’s really relatable. On the other hand, she’s also very young and naive, but that’s just what makes her a realistic character.”
Graduating senior Shadrick also expressed gratitude for Myers’ teaching and work with JBHS Drama. She starts studies at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles in the fall, with plans to complete a BFS in acting and to become a film actress.
“Mr. Myers is incredible. He’s such a talented and hardworking director, and we are so lucky to have him,” she said. “Our shows wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable, both from an audience and backstage perspective, if it weren’t for him. I have been his student for four years and I am so grateful for everything he has taught me. He has definitely shaped who I am as an actor and helped me become more confident in my skills.
Beimford enjoyed the range of emotions and actions he was able to draw on for his character, Antipholus of Syracuse.
“I just love playing sometime who is completely arrogant and has a short temper. In our November show, Flowers for Algernon, I played this mild mannered, all around helpful person,” Beimford explained. “It’s almost like this role is a 360 and I love it. Playing horrible people is immensely fun. Granted, Antipholus of Syracuse isn’t company amoral, but he’s not a great guy. And its just so fun to play those kinds of characters.”
“If I learned anything, on an academic level, Shakespeare is actually understandable when you perform the words. On a personal level, I love working with this group of people,” he added. “And if Mr Myers weren’t the director, I would probably just be running around on stage, screaming every line because I wouldn’t know any better. So there’s definitely a new level of appreciation for what Mr. Myers does, especially when he has to direct teens and Shakespeare.”
“I have had so many laughs rehearsing this play with the students, because everyone is really throwing themselves into the physical comedy and I see the students having a lot of fun with their characters,” commented Myers. “There are so many ensemble moments throughout the show, so it has also been rewarding watching the group dynamic come together as the show gets closer to opening night!”
The Comedy of Errors runs May 8 and 9 at 7:00 p.m. and May 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the John Burroughs High School Auditorium located at 1920 W. Clark Avenue in Burbank. Tickets are $12 general admission, $8 for students, faculty and seniors. Tickets may be purchased in advance via this link.