Youths to perform Shakespeare

BRISTOL — Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” tells the tale of identical twins, both named Antipholus, and their respective identical twin slaves, both named Dromio. Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave Dromio of Syracuse travel to the ancient city of Ephesus to find their long lost brothers, from whom they were separated at birth. When the two sets of twins are reunited, it sparks a comic series of arrests and false accusations brought about by the constant mistaking of one brother for another.
“It’s one of Shakespeare’s more farcical, humorous, light plays,” said Saskia Hagen Groom, the director and producer of Rutland Youth Theater’s version of “The Comedy of Errors” being performed this month.
“Unlike ‘Romeo and Juliet’, or ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘The Comedy of Errors’ hasn’t been done very often. We thought it would be neat to have a play that has been performed less than some of Shakespeare’s others,” Hagen Groom added.
The Rutland Youth Theater will be performing Shakespeare’s comedy as a traveling show to be put on at multiple venues in Rutland County and three locations in Addison County: Bristol on July 22, Orwell on July 28, and Middlebury on July 31.  All three performances will be held at 7 pm “on the green” with alternate rain locations nearby.
The traveling aspect of the show, as well as performing outdoors, is all part of the spirit of putting on a Shakespeare play, Hagen Groom explained.
“ Shakespearian players always traveled with their shows,” she said. “Traveling is so nostalgic and old-fashioned. It’s also a very minimalistic experience – there’s no stage or set, the actors are just right there on the green.”
Made up of nineteen teenagers between grades 7 and 12, the Rutland Youth Theater has provided the opportunity for a huge age range of kids from different schools to hang out together in a non-school setting.
The lead roles will see local teens Ryan Mangan as Antipholus of Syracuse, Ellory Lane as Antipholus of Ephesus, Will Giering as Dromio of Syracuse, and Brandon Bailey as Dromio of Ephesus.
The bond between the actors is particularly strong, Hagen Groom attested, because of the mobile nature of the production; in addition to actual performance time, they are also together while setting up tents and preparing their various venues.
Hagen Groom, who has been the director of the Rutland Youth Theater since December 2009 and has directed their performances of “The Prince and the Pauper” and “Willy Wonka” since then, also has her hands full with Rutland’s younger theatrically inclined crowd.
For two weeks this summer she teaches theater camp to children from grades 3 to 6. In the morning they create their own play with unique characters, and in the afternoons they work on a musical production of Aladdin. The following two weeks she hosts the same camp for children from kindergarten to grade 2, finishing with a performance of 101 Dalmatians.
Since the camps cover grades K to 6, and the Rutland Youth Theater includes grades 7 to 12, in one summer Hagen Groom teaches theater to a range of children from age 5 to age 18.
Funding for the Youth Theater’s performance of “A Comedy of Errors” comes primarily from a grant provided by the Vermont Arts Council, a non-profit organization that works to preserve the arts in Vermont communities. The project is also partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest national agency to provide funding for preservation of the arts and artistic institutions.
Hagen Groom said that the grant, which is new this year, not only covers the performance but also allows her to do an in-depth evaluation of each actor. In this way, she said, the grant ensures that the kids are having fun while also learning from their experience.
As a non-profit organization, the Youth Theater’s performances will all be free events, but donations are accepted. For more information call Saskia  Hagen Groom at 558-4177. 
Reporter Erin Cummings may be reached at [email protected].

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