Surprising new twists and turns will revitalize Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for modern audiences in the theater department’s upcoming production. Featuring a more recent time period, the cast will recapture the humorous tone of original play in such a way that anyone can follow along with the three storylines.
The comedy revolves around multiple love interests between citizens of Athens and Fairyland while following a troupe of mechanicals, or actors, putting on a play within the play.
Directed by Will Ahrens, the cast hopes to present a different take on the play with a few surprises along the way. In this production, the storyline is set in the 20th century with some anachronisms mixed in. The production will have some mixed media scenes, where a video projector will be used.
Although Ahrens would like to keep all the details tucked away from public before the show, he hinted at a few changes about how some characters are portrayed.
“There are some interesting twists with the mechanicals and the play within the play that are being done a little bit different than normal,” he said. “There’s one really big [difference] which I can’t really speak of, I want it to be a surprise. Act V is different than any Act V they’ve ever seen before,” which he hopes the audience will enjoy.
With the set, however, he’s keeping everything simple since Shakespeare favored minimal elements in order to let the audience imagine their own scenery. A single, barren tree acts as the central element in Ahrens’ visualization of the text.
The cast members are eager to finally present their hard work in front of an audience. For some, they share similarities with the characters they play or the opposite, providing a challenge.
Alexis Hartsfield auditioned only for the part of Titania, the Queen of the Fairies. Titania was the only character she saw herself playing, since the fairy queen holds her ground while interacting with other characters.
“I like how she’s very unapologetic in her opinions and she always has a reason for what she does. It’s not one of these ‘excuse me, but,’ reasons, it’s just ‘this is the way it is,’” she said.
While Hartsfield noted how challenging it can be to transform Shakespearean for a modern audience, she feels it’s a great experience for any aspiring actor to go through. Part of the experience is overcoming these obstacles and meshing as an entity in order to create a strong stage presence with the entire cast. The key to creating a masterful production is support from within.
“Because this is an ensemble, you kind of need to have each other’s backs and if we didn’t, none of this would have been possible,” she stressed.
Additionally, Hartsfield wants people to come to the show since it deals with relatable themes of love and relationships. One of the major plot points include Titania falling in love with one of the mechanicals, Nick Bottom. Such a relationship is the product of another character’s mischievous actions.
The character in question is Puck, a trickster known for playing pranks whenever he finds the opportunity. Some pranks are lighthearted while others are a bit mean spirited, one of the standouts being the transformation of Nick Bottom’s head into that of a donkey.
Kelvin Morales recalls watching his cousin play Puck in another production when he was younger. From that moment on, he knew Puck was a character that he had to play at some point in time. Now that he’s in the role of Puck, it’s a dream come true.
Morales describes Puck as a catalyst of sorts since a majority of the play’s events happen due to Puck’s actions. Since Puck sets off the chains of events, he’s a popular character with audiences and puts pressure on Morales as a result.
“People who love Shakespeare, they’ve seen this show a thousand times over, so I guess I’m pretty nervous because Puck is such a loved character,” he said. “I know a bunch of people wanted to play him and I got the honor to take on this character so I just hope I give him justice.”
Opening night for the production is Friday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. at the Little Theater (CA 135) in the Center for the Arts.