Bard on the Beach: The Comedy of Errors


Celebrating its 26th Season this year, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare Festivals.

The shows are presented in a beautiful setting on the waterfront in Vancouver’s Vanier Park. The Festival showcases Shakespeare plays, related dramas, and several special events in two performance tents from June through September.

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We were invited to attend ‘The Comedy of Errors’ and were completely captivated by the incredible play. Directed by actor/director and Bard Artistic Associate Scott Bellis, The Comedy of Errors takes the audience on a hilarious wild ride of mistaken identity.

Double trouble has never been more delightful! Two sets of long-lost twins meet up unexpectedly, creating hilarious confusion for their friends, loved ones – and most of all themselves.


After the show, we spoke with Mara Gottler, Costumer Designer for Bard on the Beach to learn more about the inspiration for the incredible costumes for ‘The Comedy of Errors.’


Tell us about the costume inspiration for ‘The Comedy of Errors’
The costume inspiration for Comedy of Errors came from Steampunk, a style movement started in the late 80’s from literary and film sources, which has now caught on in mainstream fashion looks. Called “Victorian Futurism”, it is usually a blend of Victorian silhouette with modern details.  It has edginess to it but also whimsy. (And it has been humorously been called the era when the Goths discovered the colour brown.)


Where do you source the costumes?
We source most of these costumes from our Bard costume shop – the cutters use my sketches to create costumes for most of the character’s looks. Accessories and millinery pieces were also handmade in our shop for Comedy.

Some items were bought online. I try to shop from Canadian sources first (Courtesan leather wings and pocket watches.)Many come from international Etsy sites where artists / craftspeople make one of a kind items. (The masks for the engineers were from the UK; the goggles were from Spain; footwear came from the USA; lace trims were from China and Japan)  


Tell us about your collaboration with the director and set designer.
My collaboration with the director included intense discussions dealing with overall texture, silhouette and colour for the Steampunk concept.

We also have individual exploration of each character.  Knowing which actors would play certain parts allowed for unusual interpretations, like having two small females play the Dromio servants and two men of opposing body types, play the female servants. Also, some actors had multiple roles and the director and I wanted to ensure that they looked distinctly different in all their parts.  IMG_1120_What costume features should show goers keep an eye out for?
The shoes are great signifiers of character for me.  I sometimes start from that for the character base.

IMG_3290_What’s your favourite part of the Bard on the Beach experience?
Seeing all the artistic elements join with the director’s vision, as expressed through the actors. I truly appreciated the completeness of our vision for this Steampunk Comedy: the set, lights, sound and costumes belonged to the same world. And I absolutely adored the choreographer’s movement pieces that defined this crazy world of subcultural weirdness.


For show time listing and more information on Bard of the Beach, visit

Images courtesy of Bard on the Beach