The Greenville Shakespeare Company’s attempt to produce a Summer Shakespeare show in 2020 lived up to the chosen title. It was truly a Comedy of Errors that ended with a canceled show because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But this summer, Jeff and Kim Stegall — the creative minds behind the Greenville Shakespeare Company — have sprung the signature brightly colored props and costumes from the closet and the cast has had a whirlwind three weeks of rehearsals. The show opens in Performance Hall on July 9 and will run at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Friday and Saturday evenings until July 26. Tickets are available online.
Knowing they would need extra time to allow for COVID-19 precautions, the cast began Zoom rehearsals for the 2020 show in April and distanced in-person rehearsals in May. “Far apart and outside,” added Kim.
Though the troupe couldn’t use their normal venue of Performance Hall on the BJU campus, they planned to hold a one-day performance in the back yard of one of the Stegalls’ neighbors. They had everything in place for the July show when the sky started to fall.
First, the City of Greenville refunded their permit fee as COVID-19 case numbers were on the rise in the area. “Bottom line is they don’t want to have their name on it in case there’s a big breakout,” said Jeff.
Then, Jeff received a phone call from his sister. “My sister said, ‘You need to come. Dad is very close to death,’ ” he said. Jeff received that call on the Monday before the troupe was scheduled to perform. He and Kim drove to his parents’ home, and his father died on Wednesday.
The cast was supportive when Jeff broke the news, asking to pray for him right then. Said Jeff: “That’s a blessing that the secular theatre world does not have. They may get love and support in other ways, but they don’t have people who are united with Christ and supportive in that way.”
While the Stegalls were dealing with the loss of Jeff’s father, two cast members were also quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 and could not perform on that Saturday.
“Finally, Kim said, ‘OK, I think we have jumped through a sufficient number of hoops,’ and the doors just keep slamming shut,” Jeff said. Kim added, “What is God going to have to do since He hasn’t been able to get our attention? Storms were predicted for that day, the city withdrew, your dad was dying, your dad died, COVID. What next?”
The Stegalls made the decision to cancel the 2020 show. “We just boxed it up and put it in the closet. When you go in our guest room now and you open the closet, it’s very colorful,” Jeff said.
However, they are pulling the props, the costumes and even the marketing materials out of the overstuffed closet for the 2021 performance. “If the date’s wrong,” said Jeff, “just count it up to a Comedy of Errors.”
Tickets are on sale now for The Comedy of Errors at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Friday and Saturday evenings July 9–26.