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Timothy J. Bond Producing Artistic Director

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PRESENTS

The Bomb-itty of Errors BY

Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory Qaiyum, and Erik Weiner MUSIC BY

Jeffrey Qaiyum DIRECTED BY

Andy Goldberg COSTUME DESIGN

SCENIC DESIGN

Shoko Kambara

Amelia Dombrowski

LIGHTING DESIGN

SOUND DESIGN

Jonathan Herter

Aaron Spivey

SPONSORED BY


CONTENTS. MC Billy Shakes............................................................5 The History of Errors.................................................6 Style and Form.............................................................7 Inside the Globe Theatre............................................8 Ye Olde Timeline..........................................................9 Bomb-itty Background..............................................10 Resources and Activities............................................11 Š 2007. Edited by Lauren Unbekant and Adam Zurbruegg. Layout by Adam Zurbruegg

To arrange a matinee performance of The Bomb-itty of Errors, please contact Tracey White at (315) 443-9844. This study guide is meant to supplement the Syracuse Stage 2007-08 Season Study Guide. If you have arranged to see The Bomb-itty of Errors, but have not yet received a Season Study Guide, please call the Syracuse Stage Dept. of Educational Outreach at (315) 443-1150 or (315) 442-7755. All study guides are available in digital PDF format online at: www.syracusestage.org

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Okay, this might seem strange, but trust us: Shakespeare was a stone cold gangsta. In The Bomb-itty of Errors, you’ll see how the Grandmaster Bard and modern hip-hop artists use the English language in very similar ways. First, here’s a few facts about Shakespeare that might just boost his ‘street cred.’

One. A 1589 production of Comedy of Errors probably felt more like a rap concert than a trip to

Two.

the opera. While the royal and elite audience members sat in private boxes, the ‘floor seats’ (standing room only) were available to the lower-class masses of ‘groundlings,’ as they were called. We don’t think there was a mosh pit, but it could get pretty raucous down there. Check out page 8 for more on the groundlings.

Shakespeare came from nothing. His parents couldn’t read or write, but he managed to be- come one of the most prolific writers of all time. Not bad, huh?

Three. Don’t let the frilly clothes fool you. Shakespeare was tough. The year he was born, his town

Four.

Five.

was hit with the Black Plague, and Baby Shakes survived. 50 Cent may have been shot a few times (he don’t walk with a limp) but he never had to deal with the Plague.

Rap producer and artist Timbaland raised $800,000 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Russell Simmons and Sean Combs are outspoken political activists. But Shakespeare wins again. Queen Elizabeth I was one of his biggest fans. Show me George Bush at a Snoop Dogg show and we’ll talk. He didn’t think to add “-izzle” to any of them, but Shakespeare invented an estimated 1,700 words. Here’s a few of our favorites: assassin, bloody, critic, generous, gloomy, gnarled, laughable, lonely, majestic, and puke.

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The History of Errors When a story is 2,200 years old, it needs a little maintenance to keep it relevant as the times change. Let’s check out how this tale has evolved with the language of its audience - from raucous Latin to bawdy Elizabethan, and now in American hip-hop.

TITUS MACCIUS PLAUTUS (254 - 184 BC) was a Roman playwright best known

for his comedies and social satires. One of his best known plays, The Menaechmi, tells the tale of two twin brothers separated at age seven when one brother is lost in the crowded streets. As an adult, Menaechmus of Syracuse sets out with his slave to find the lost Menaechmus of Epidamnus. He is mistaken for his brother, and gets caught in the middle of his twin’s marital disputes. Menaechmus of Syracuse’s slave, Messenio, figures out the confusion and is granted freedom for it. All ends happily. Well, except for Menaechmus of Epidamnus’ wife. Her husband leaves her and returns to Syracuse. In ancient Rome, plays were not performed by themselves, but as parts of huge festivals that also included chariot races, boxing matches, and other events. As a result, Plautus’ plays were intended to grab and hold the audience’s attention. A boring play would be no match for the allure of a good chariot race. Plautus used slapstick comedy, cheap gags, sexual innuendo - anything that would engage and entertain an audience of the masses. Titus Maccius Plautus

When WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, at the very beginning of his writing career, set out to adapt Plautus’ tale into The Comedy of Errors, he had the benefit of a more captive audience, but one that still craved the low-brow bawdy humor as much as the Romans did (for more detail on Elizabethan audiences, check out page 8.) So, Shakespeare doubled the comedy by adding another set of twins as servants to the original brothers. Some critics feel that The Comedy of Errors is overly complicated, and more confusing than the original story. Others believe it is more entertaining because of the added chaos. Whatever your opinion, the fact of the matter is that Shakespeare was not content to simply translate Plautus’ play into English (which was being done at about the same time, by William Warner.) He wanted to adapt the play to fit the changing times. What was once funny in ancient Rome would not have the same effect in Elizabethan England. Likewise, what was funny in Elizabethan England did not have the same effect in...

NEW YORK CITY, 1998, when students at NYU set out to do exactly what Plautus and

Shakespeare had done: tell the classic tale in the language of their audience. Shakespeare’s audience was comfortable reading Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe. Bomb-itty’s audience was more interested in Public Enemy and Jurassic 5. The authors of Bomb-itty knew that hip-hop, rap, and slam poetry were the modern urban language, and by using that language, they could capture the attention and imagination of a modern audience. Like their predecessors, they found a way to bring a 2,200 year old story to a brand new audience in a refreshingly contemporary way. The Bomb-itty brain trust

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“I’m here to say what’s in my heart...

And you call it a style.”

- DMX, Let Me Fly

Have you ever heard two of your friends tell the same story? The facts are probably the same, but the story comes out differently. Why? Style: not what you say, but how you say it. Check out two different (but similar) styles of telling the story of The Comedy of Errors.

SHAKESPEARE’s style of choice was rhyming couplets. He didn’t use them all the time, but whenever he wanted to make a point or leave the audience with a lasting impression, he used a couplet. A couplet is simply a pair of lines that rhyme and are the same length. How do we measure the length? In syllables. How many syllables are in each of the lines in the example on the left? Ignore the “ u / u /” stuff for now.

Alright. Time’s up. Did you count ten syllables? That’s Shakespeare’s favorite kind of couplet, and probably the most common kind in the entire English language. It’s called iambic pentameter.

IAMBIC PENTAMETER is a complicated name for a really simple style. In fact, the reason so many writers use iambic pentameter is that it’s so close to the way we speak in normal conversation. Here’s what it means. “Penta-” means “five” (like how a pentagon has five sides) and “meter” is just another word for rhythm, or beat. This beat has five sets of iambs, and each iamb is two syllables long, making ten syllables total. Are you still with me? Each iamb has one stressed syllable and one unstressed syllable. The stressed syllables just have a little extra emphasis. Basically, it sounds like: “dum-DUM dum-DUM dum-DUM dum-DUM dum-DUM.” In the example above, we marked the stressed syllables with “/” above them, and the unstressed syllables with “u.” Try reading it aloud, and notice how it sounds.

“Iambic pentameter is rap. It’s the structure.” - Tupac Shakur What do you think Tupac means by this? How do you define “rap?” Not all rap is written in iambic pentameter. To mix things up, poets and rap artists use lots of different meters (or, beats) in their songs. Shakespeare mixed things up, too, when he wanted to make certain points, but rap artists use “irregular” meter more frequently.

ACTIVITY:

Pick a rap or hip-hop song that you like and print the lyrics from the internet (let’s try to keep it clean, okay?) Read it out loud to get a feel for the rhythm. Now take a closer look. Is there a rhyme scheme? How many syllables does each line have? Sometimes it will be the same amount, sometimes it will be different. Why do you think a writer might choose to have different amounts? Why would he/she choose the same amount? Now see if you can pick out which syllables are stressed and which are unstressed. Grab a pencil and mark the lyrics like we marked the example at the top of the page. Remember: this is rap, not Shakespeare, so there will probably be a lot of variation. If you’re feeling creative, try writing your own rap or poem. Pick a style, and have fun! www.syracusestage.org www.myspace.com/syracusestageman

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Inside the Globe Theatre “You will see such heaving and shoving, such itching and shouldering to sit by the women, such care for their garments that they be not trod on... such toying, such smiling, such winking, such manning them home... that it is a right comedy to mark their behavior.” - Stephen Gosson, The School of Abuse (1579)

This quote is a first-hand account of what a trip to the theatre was like in Elizabethan England: pushing to sit next to the prettiest ladies, accidentally stepping on each other’s clothes, roughhousing and laughing. Sounds more like a rap concert than a trip to the theatre. In those days, the theatre experience was not unlike an outdoor concert. Take a look at this picture of the Globe Theatre today. First, notice how the audience surrounds the stage on three sides. This is known as a thrust stage. Syracuse Stage’s Archibold Theatre, where you will see The Bomb-itty of Errors, has a much less pronounced thrust, but does protrude slightly into the audience. Next, check out the 3-tiered covered gallery seats. These were like modern luxury boxes for those who could afford it. The best seats were reserved for royalty like Queen Elizabeth herself. They often preferred seats where they could be seen and envied by the poorer audience members, and addressed by the actors. Upper-class men and women, however, were not the only ones who enjoyed live theatre. Today there are so many entertainment options (TV, movies, YouTube, rock concerts, etc.) that it is easy to forget that at one time, theatre was one of the only games in town. Tanners, butchers, shoe-makers, even servants could see any of Shakespeare’s plays for the cost of only one penny, although for most working people, a penny was almost an entire day’s wages. Here among the ‘groundlings’ we would have found the heaving and shoving that Stephen Gosson spoke of. The groundlings weren’t concerned with manner or etiquette like the royalty was. They didn’t need to be. They came to hoot and holler, cheer and boo, eat and drink. Shakespeare knew this. He knew that his plays needed to appeal to Queens and servants alike. So, he wrote about royal families and Greek history to please the galleries, and added brutal swordfights, sexual innuendo, silly drunks, and mischevious servants for the groundlings. This is one of the reasons that The Bomb-itty of Errors is so valuable in 2008. Because the English language has changed, most of Shakespeare’s humor has been lost over time, and many modern productions of Shakespeare’s classics choose to shy away from the original grit in favor of a more straight-laced (and often, boring) style. The Bombitty of Errors brings Shakespeare back to its original intent: bold, in-your-face theatre for the masses.

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Ye Olde Timeline

1560 Shakespeare’s Life 1564. William Shakespeare is born in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, England (100 miles north of London.) 1571. By tradition we can assume William began his formal education at age seven.

1582. William marries Anne Hathaway, who is three months pregnant with their daughter. 1583. Susanna Shakespeare is born.

1570

1580

1585. Hamnet (no, that’s not a typo) and Judith Shakespeare are born. 1593. All London theatres are closed until the following spring due to the Plague. Shakespeare takes up writing sonnets.

1590

1596. Hamnet Shakespeare dies at age 11. 1597. Shakespeare’s company, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, move to a new theatre: The Curtain. Their old theatre is demolished and used to build The Globe Theatre. Also, Shakespeare buys New Place, the second-largest home in Stratford. 1599. The Globe is finished, and Shakespeare is a part-owner. 1601. Shakespeare’s father dies.

1600

1603. Queen Elizabeth dies. James I takes the throne. To keep their royal support, Chamberlain’s Men change their name to The King’s Men. 1608. The King’s Men purchase London’s first indoor theatre: The Blackfriar. Shakespeare’s mother dies. 1609. The 154 sonnets are first published. 1613. The Globe Theatre burns down during a performance of Henry VIII. 1616. William Shakespeare dies.

1610

Shakespeare’s Plays

[There is a lot of dispute about the exact order these were written. It seems likely that Shakespeare would work on several plays at one time, so the exact order in which they were finished is up for debate. This is only a partial list, some lesser-known plays have been left out in the interest of space.]

C = Comedy T = Tragedy H = History R = Romance

The Comedy of Errors The Two Gentlemen of Verona King John Henry VI [Parts 1-3] Richard III The Taming of the Shrew Romeo & Juliet Love’s Labours Lost Richard II A Midsummer Night’s Dream The Merchant of Venice Henry IV [Parts 1 & 2] Much Ado About Nothing As You Like It Julius Caesar Henry V Hamlet Twelfth Night All’s Well That Ends Well Othello Measure for Measure King Lear Macbeth Pericles Antony & Cleopatra The Winter’s Tale The Tempest The Two Noble Kinsmen Henry VIII

C C H H H C T C H C T H C C T H T C C T C T T T T R R R H


Bomb-itty Background It started as the project of a group of NYU students. Soon, it was being produced across the world. MTV even wanted to make it into a TV show! Check out the history of this one-of-a-kind play, and see what critics and audiences have said about it!

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

NOTABLE PRODUCTIONS

2000: Outer Critics Circle Award (NY) Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical

1999: Powerhouse Theatre Festival (Poughkeepsie, NY) 1999 - 2000: Off-Broadway (New York, NY) 2001: Royal George Cabaret Theatre (Chicago, IL) 2001: HBO Comedy Arts Festival (Aspen, CO) 2002: Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2002: Chicago Shakespeare Festival (Chicago, IL) 2002: MTV, Scratch & Burn (Sketch comedy; 5 episodes) 2002: American Stage (St. Petersburg, FL) 2003: New Ambassadors Theatre (London, England) 2003: The Helix Theatre (Dublin, Ireland) 2004: Coronet Theatre (Los Angeles, CA) 2006: Adirondack Theatre Festival (Glens Falls, NY) 2007: St. Louis Repertory Theatre (St. Louis, MO)

2000: Drama Desk Award, Nomination (NY) Best Lyrics 2001: HBO Comedy Arts Festival (Aspen, CO) Grand Jury Prize 2001: Jefferson Award (Chicago, IL) Best Touring Production

WHAT AUDIENCES HAVE SAID ol, and hip. Very “Awesome, upbeat, co ern to teenagers.” entertaining and mod klyn - Ayesha, 27 yrs. old, Broo

“Nothing short of brilliant. Clever writing, rhythmic flow, witty musical allusions, and intelligent humor.” -MTV

“Perfect for teens and adults, almost anyone, really! Highlight of my theatre experie nces!” - Mario, 41 yrs. old, Naperville

“It’s unique, fun, and like nothing you’ve ever seen!” - Victor, 17 yrs. old, Evanston

“It’s hip-hop comedy with a touch of class.”

-Toby, 31 yrs. old, New Haven

“A stroke of genius.” - The Times

“An ingenious reworking of Shakespeare’s plot and poetry.” - Chicago Tribune

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RESOURCES

“And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn.” - Much Ado About Nothing; I.i On Shakespeare

“William Shakespeare” “Shakespeare Online” “Complete Works Online” “Complete Works Online” “Absolute Shakespeare” “Internet Shakespeare” “Shakespeare Resources” “Search Shakespeare Quotes”

www.shakespeare.com www.shakespeare-online.com http://shakespeare.mit.edu www.bartleby.com/70/ www.absoluteshakespeare.com http://shakespeare.palomar.edu www.bardweb.net www.rhymezone.com/shakespeare/

On “The Comedy of Errors”

“E-Text” “E-Text” “Spark Notes” “Grade Saver”

http://shakespeare.mit/edu/comedy_errors/ www.bartleby.com/70/index15.html www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/errors/ gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/comedyoferrors

On Hip-Hop & Shakespeare “The Bomb-itty of Errors” www.bomb-itty.com “Top Ten Analogues” stylusmagazine.com/articles/staff_top_10/ top-ten-shakespeare-hip-hop-analogues.html “Poetics of Hip Hop Lessons” http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/content/3656 “Classroom Products” www.flocabulary.com Plus... Visit the Official Syracuse Stage Website at www.syracusestage.org Now you can be Stage Man’s friend at www.myspace.com/syracusestageman

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2007-08 The Bomb-ity of Errors  

2007-08 The Bomb-ity of Errors-Atudy Guide

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