Story and photo by Bradley Turcotte –
Kitchissippi theater troupe A Company of Fools is celebrating 25 years of Shakespearean shenanigans but Catriona Leger, director of The Comedy of Errors currently touring Ottawa parks, says you’ll find more than works by the Bard on her Kindle.
“Sometimes I read Shakespeare,” Leger laughs, but recently, she says, a podcast featuring author Jennifer Pharr Davis sent her on a non-fiction adventure jag.
“I devoured her books and started reading all these books about the Appalachian Trail,” Leger explains. “Then I got into Cheryl Strayed and Wild. The book is amazing. I find a lot of inspiration in solo female travelers.”
If Leger were to embark on a solo expedition she may look to the stars for guidance as, in addition to devouring books on directing and management, she describes herself as a “horoscope nerd.”
“I really love books on astrology but I have a discerning eye. I won’t just read anything,” Leger says.
Sun Signs by Linda Goodman, while dated, Leger admits, is a touchstone for astrology aficionados. Leger says those looking for a more modern approach to astrology, entries by Starsky and Cox are insightful reads.
Additionally, classic authors like Ernest Hemingway, Ian Fleming and Timothy Findley can claim Leger as a fan.
Leger slowly worked her way through Findley’s bibliography over the years and his biblical alternate history novel Not Wanted on the Voyage is one of her all-time favourites.
“It’s a fictional take on the great flood and Noah,” says Leger. “It’s told from the perspective of Noah’s wife and this blind, pregnant, old cat named Mottyl; who are neither of them wanted on the voyage. It’s about them getting the ark ready and the family coming in. The devil ends up on the ark in disguise. It was the first time I think I ever wept when I read a book. It’s just a wonderful story.”
Adapting Shakespeare’s works for a modern audience while keeping the play riveting can be as arduous as a voyage at sea but Leger says she abstains from taking too many liberties with his classic source material.
“We do have to edit the show. The extra challenge for a director in this case is we only have six actors with budgetary considerations. Sometimes all six actors have to be on stage playing 20 different characters… I try to stay as true to text as possible but I will change a word here or there just to be clearer to a modern audience’s ear.”
Leger describes her interpretation of The Comedy of Errors as a “fun, physical, comical romp” topped off with justified violence and slapstick.
“Our whole concept this year was to be inspired by Where’s Waldo and Dr. Seuss,” Leger says. “These are very human characters. You can recognise yourself in almost any of them. Even though there is crazy hilarity going on, there’s really a lot of humanity to them. They also are these sort of cartoonesque looking people and it’s such a visual treat.”
Area residents can check out A Comedy of Errors at Westboro’s Clare Gardens Park on Tuesday, July 28 at 7 p.m. For more information about A Company of Fools, go to fools.ca.
This post is part of our KT summer reads issue. Read all of our other profiles right here.
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