“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: A unique production

On October 17, 18, and 19, SHS drama put on four shows of the famous Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The play shows the events surrounding the marriage of “nobles” Theseus (Alex Alden) to Hippolyta (Zephaniah Eiland). It also details the affairs of the “lovers”: Lysander (Austin Payne), Demetrius (Jordan Biller), Hermia (Lindsay Nelson) and Helena (Clara McElfresh) through their mortal emotions and as they are controlled by the “ fairies”: Oberon (John Ewing), Titania (Nimya Harris) and Puck (Ginny Mitchell/TJ Miller). 

In putting on this play, drama director Joe King, along with drama staff and students, was faced with the same problem as any group putting on this 17th century comedy set in Athens: how to make it funny and interesting for their audience. To modernize it, the group chose to go the same route many other productions have done: setting it in a more recent time period. They choose the 1920s. This was evident in the music and the costumes the characters wore: low waisted dresses, bobbed hairstyles and pinstripe suits. 

Drama director Joe King was faced with the same problem as any group putting on this 17th century comedy set in Athens: how to make it funny and interesting for their audience.”

However, there were few other indications that the setting was New York’s Central Park in the ’20s besides a sign on the wall that read “Central Park.”

The show was also performed in a thrust stage setting, in which the audience sat on stage along with the actors. Viewers entered the auditorium through the back and walked through the rows of empty seats before entering the boxed off stage. 

The stage had seating on three sides, and held up to 120 people, compared to the 1250 people the auditorium seats. The bleacher-like seating had rows of chairs with the front row on the stage, which heightened the sense of energy.

The actors utilized the stairs in the seating, running up and down them, as well as getting very close and even touching some of the audience members to fully portray their sentiments.

When the play started, the early English and iambic pentameter seemed like it would be difficult to relate to. However, the actors did an impressive job of being very emotional with their dialogue and conveying the feelings of the story, even if all the language wasn’t familiar to everyone in the audience. 

The actors did an impressive job of being very emotional with their dialogue and conveying the feelings of the story, even if all the language wasn’t familiar to everyone in the audience. ”

The exaggerated reactions from characters such as Nick Bottom (Leo Newman), Francis Flute (Ian Vailliencourt) and Tom Snout (Jadon Roder), “mechanicals” who were putting on a play for the newlyweds, gave this over 500 year old work some humor and energy. 

The actors used different and distinct methods to emphasize their characters, each adapting their own way of conveying Shakespeare’s messages. Alden and Eiland accentuated their depiction of the passionate romance of a young couple, while Ewing was determinedly fairy-like.

The set, especially in a reduced stage, was also admirable. There was a rock formation at the back of the stage that several actors climbed on, as well as a lattice of several tree trunks that were descended from the rafters for the forest scenes. The only other stationary prop was a couple benches. These came together well on the small stage. 

The play was an interesting occurrence, different from what Shorewood usually does, and it appeared to be appreciated by both the students that put it together and the audience that got to watch it.