Dreams for a Midsummer Night
June 30, 2005
Ancient and modern collide in Hampshire Shakespeare’s "Dream"
The anarchic and anachronistic world of dreams, where logic and time don’t exist, is explored with gusto in the Hampshire Shakespeare Company’s second summer production, "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." As directed by Chris Rohmann, this rambunctious staging of the perennial favorite finds ancient Athenians dueling with water pistols and woodland fairies munching popcorn and chatting on cell phones.
Appropriately for this most pastoral of Shakespearean comedies, the play will be performed "under the stars" on the company’s open-air stage on the grounds of the Hartsbrook School at 193 Bay Road in Hadley, against the magnificent backdrop of the Holyoke Range. The production opens for previews on July 13 and runs through July 24.
"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" is a delicious concoction compounded of incongruous ingredients. Take two sets of love-dazed teenagers, throw in a pair of quarreling fairy royalty, add a dash of clumsy workmen dabbling in community theater, top it off with a king determined to tame an Amazon, and the result is a delightful theatrical feast.
Popular newcomers join Hampshire Shakespeare Company veterans in this production. The mischievous Puck is played by Kelsey Flynn, radio host of the morning show on 93.9 FM The River and member of the Villa Jidiots comedy troupe. Tom McCabe, beloved local storyteller and director of the Paintbox Children’s Theater, is the would-be tragedian Bottom. Steve Angel and Tary Coppola, both featured last year in The Merchant of Venice, portray Oberon and Titania, the feuding fairy king and queen. A dozen Young Company actors join the adult actors in supporting roles.
As Rohmann explains it, the production’s chaotic mix of ancient and modern touches is in keeping with the comic style of Shakespeare’s own time. "Shakespeare wasn’t very concerned with historical accuracy or even internal consistency," he says. "And in this play, almost everything that happens can best be explained as ‘the fierce vexation of a dream,’ as Puck puts it." So we’ve played on that dreamlike quality, especially in the forest, a timeless, hallucinatory place where both ludicrous and hair-raising things occur but no one thinks to pinch themselves awake."
Previews of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" are July 13 and 14, with the opening on July 15. The production runs Wednesday-Sunday through July 24. Curtain time is 7 p.m. for all performances.
On July 29, 30 and 31, at 7 p.m., the Hampshire Shakespeare Young Company presents their own production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" under the direction of Benjamin Ware. The teenage members of the Young Company are cast in smaller roles in the mainstage production, then step into the play’s principal roles for their own production. Additional young actors will join this troupe for one intensive week of rehearsal culminating in the fully produced weekend of performance. In addition to this program, a full schedule of Summer Theatre Workshops led by theatre professionals is offered for children from 5 through 17. Christine Stevens heads the educational program (413-549-4881).
All seating is general admission, with early comers seated first. All performances proceed on a weather-permitting basis. Umbrellas are offered to the audience in the event of a brief shower or light rain. In the event of cancellation, all tickets will be honored at any future performance. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $6 for children under 18. Preview night tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Young Company show are $5. Groups of 10 or more can purchase blocks of tickets for regular mainstage shows at 20% off regular prices.
The venue at The Hartsbrook School is handicapped accessible. Chairs are provided, and audience members can also choose to sit on the grass. Audience members are welcome to bring picnics to enjoy in the beautiful rural setting. Hampshire Shakespeare Company is grateful for the generous support of 2005 Season Sponsors Public Radio 88.5 FM -WFCR, Millennium Press, and Progressive Radio 93.9 FM The River.
Now in its fifteenth year, the Company remains true to its mission to make accessible to audiences and actors a range of theatre experiences from the most profound to the most playful. Included in this mission is the group’s dedication to education through the medium of the performing arts.