One usually has to ante up a pile of cash to take in a Shakespeare production.
Not this summer. This summer, the musical language of the famous bard is free, thanks to Free-for-All, a new TheatreWorks program bringing free theater performances to indoor and outdoor locations throughout the Pikes Peak region. The program’s first offering is a condensed version of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.” TheatreWorks is the professional theater company of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
“Theater is a way for the community to gather,” said TheatreWorks Artistic Director Caitlin Lowans. “You don’t need to gather in spaces defined as theater; you can gather in spaces defined and loved by people in their own communities. If we’re going to be a real civic institution and in service to everyone in the community, we need to find ways to go out and see what the needs are and meet them where they’re at.”
With the help of the Pikes Peak Library District, seven local actors (Alex Wimmerle, Ambrosia Feess-Armstrong, Anna Faye Hunter, Dante Finley, Julia Greene, Rachel Fey and Sean Sharif) will stage a family-friendly, 75-minute version of the play at libraries, parks and community centers through mid-August.
Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Three shows are on Saturday at Rockrimmon Library, Grant Library at Fort Carson and Hillside Community Center, and one show Sunday is in Monument’s Limbach Park. A complete schedule is online at uccspresents.org.
Free-for-All is not to be confused with TheatreWorks’ Shakespeare at the Ranch, an annual ticketed outdoor production held under a giant tent at Rock Ledge Ranch. This year’s selection, “Measure for Measure,” runs through Sunday.
Identity and the quest for self-knowledge runs throughout “The Comedy of Errors,” which features two sets of identical twins. Separated at birth, they reunite later in life only to endure multiple cases of mistaken identity.
“It’s very silly and accessible,” Lowans said. “We want this to be an intergenerational experience, where kids, caregivers and grandparents can come and enjoy the show. Shakespeare is often very serious or about romance. Romance is not something kids really want to watch. It has that element in it, but it’s a lighter thread running through.”
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