CSF in NY Times 6/13

June 13, 2013

What Creators These Mortals Be

By STEVEN McELROY
 

Chances are you’ve either seen it or have been in it. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream"is sort of like the Shakespearean “Godspell” in that sense. And not unsurprisingly, the summer is a particularly vibrant time for productions of the comedy, which works well in an outdoor setting — what with those enchanted fairy-filled woods outside Athens, where lovers’ woes are mystically resolved.

“There is no question there is something deeply magical about sitting in a theater as the sun is setting, and the play is changing with that sunset,” said Charles Fee, whose production of the play will open this summer at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in Nevada.

“Midsummer” lends itself to nontraditional treatments, and the art of directorial tinkering is probably almost as old as the script. The Royal Shakespeare Company and Google Creative Lab are teaming up on a part-live, part-Internet production — the epitome of updates — that is but only one of many intriguing interpretations this summer.

Here several of those overseeing these productions talk about their renditions of “Midsummer,” describing how they have conceptualized their productions; what take they’ve chosen for the fairy Puck, that “merry wanderer of the night”; and just what about “Dream"continues to draw our attention.

Colorado Shakespeare Festival
Through Aug. 11
Mary Rippon Outdoor Theater, University of Colorado, Boulder; coloradoshakes.org
Directed by Geoffrey Kent

CONCEPT Set in the Jazz Age, this outdoor production will have a “Downton Abbey” feel. Mr. Kent said this choice makes thematic sense since the 1920s were the era of women’s suffrage, and the play partly deals with a young woman wanting to marry the man of her own choosing, not of her father’s.

PUCK The veteran character actor Lawrence Hecht is an unusual choice for the impish sprite. “He’s a laborious, slow-moving Puck, who’s got a bad back and bad knees and a bad neck,” Mr. Kent said. “He’s a like an aging Teamster fairy who cannot be fired but works at his own pace.”

Mr. Kent has cast Hermia against type too: Jenna Bainbridge is partly paralyzed from the waist down and walks with a decided limp.

POPULARITY “The other comedies are laced with history jokes and jokes on the reign of the current queen,” Mr. Kent said. " ‘Midsummer’ doesn’t have any of that. You don’t need footnotes to understand why it’s so funny.”

 

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