HOPEDALE – When the Hope Players hold auditions for their third annual readers’ theatre this Saturday, December 11, it will begin the realization of a long-time dream of executive director Andrew Pelegreen III to put a play by William Shakespeare on the local community theatre’s schedule.
The auditions for “The Comedy of Errors, to be held from 12:00 noon until 2 p.m. at Hopedale United Methodist Church at 237 Church Street in Hopedale, began as a suggestion two years ago to Charles Calabrese of Wintersville, who has adapted and directed the readers’ theatre presentations since their inception three years ago. “I had suggested that we do ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ but Charles had a number of objections, including serious concerns about the fact that the play has plot elements that include teenage suicide and incompetent members of the clergy,” Pelegreen said. Calabrese added, “I also want this series to be a painless way to produce and enjoy plays that don’t get a lot of exposure locally, so I suggested that we do Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ instead. “’Romeo and Juliet’ is part of just about every high school English literature curriculum,” he noted. “We discussed the matter after ‘Earnest,’ and Charles suggested that, if we’re going to include Shakespeare’s works in our public domain readers’ theatre productions, we might start with his shortest play, and also one of his funniest,” Pelegreen recalled. “We took the suggestion to the board, and they agreed,” he said.
“Some other things about ‘The Comedy of Errors that meet our needs are that the play has parts for people of various ages, and many of the parts could be played by males or females, which is a plus if we have more of one gender trying out for the play than the other,” Calabrese observed. “The Comedy of Errors” tells the story of two sets of identical twins accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers. When the Syracuse men encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of one twin, and accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.
Those trying out for the play will be asked to read selections from scripts that will be provided at auditions. Anyone unable to audition at the scheduled time may call Calabrese at 740-264-4465 to make other arrangements. Any actor who wants to prepare for auditions by reading “The Comedy of Errors” should have no problem obtaining the text free of charge, according to Calabrese. “Because the play is in the public domain, the script available free for download on the Internet at such sites as Project Gutenberg, or may be borrowed from any local school or public library,” he explained. More information about the Hope Players is available at their Web site, hopeplayers.org.