Wedding bells are ringing for Theseus and Hippolyta; but the real adventure lies with four Athenian lovers and a rag-tag group of amateur actors who encounter woodland fairies, with hilarious results. In Shakespeare’s exploration of love, this delightful work astounds at how mercurial the human heart has remained over the 400 years the life of this play has spanned, says Dennis McLernon.
Shows are at 7:30 p.m. nightly Oct. 18-21 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 22, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Sirote Theatre. Tickets are $12 and $15, $6 for students, and $10 for UAB employees and senior citizens. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or go to www.AlysStephens.org. Visit Theatre UAB online at www.uab.edu/cas/theatre.
Shakespeare crafts an exquisite set of worlds with distinctive and driven individuals in each within this single play, McLernon says. An enchanted forest is inhabited by immensely powerful natural spirits: Oberon the Fairy King and Titania the Fairy Queen. These two powerful forces are feuding and causing the seasons to spiral out of natural sequence. Jealousy and revenge provoke magic spells, creating havoc for all those who venture into their forest. And those ills that do befall them are compounded by the mischievous antics of Oberon’s sidekick-sprite, Puck.
In the mortal world are the lovers. On the eve of Duke Theseus’ wedding, the young lovers Hermia and Lysander decide to leave town through the woods and elope against the wishes of Hermia’s mother, Egeia. Jealous rival for Hermia’s affections, Demetrius, follows the lovers into the enchanted woods to claim his right for her hand. Helena, in love with Demetrius, follows him into the woods to try to win his heart. They all journey squarely into the conflict within the fairy world and are immediately caught up in spells, mistaken identity and cross purposes.
|“Elements seen in this play were first recorded in the ancient Greek comedies of Aristophanes, close to a millennium before Shakespeare used them. We see witty dialogue, slapstick humor, sexual innuendo, cross purposes and mistaken identity throughout this ingenious work.”|
A group of common laborers round out all the worlds colliding in this classic comedy, he says. These tradesmen are also a group of amateur actors rehearsing an entertainment to present for the Duke on his wedding day. Led by the blustery character Bottom, they choose to rehearse their theatrical enterprise in a clearing within the enchanted wood where Oberon and Titania are feuding. “The result of their interactions is ‘transformational,’” McLernon said.
“Through ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream,’ Shakespeare employs the entire panoply of classic comic convention and leads us hilariously through one starry summer night,” McLernon said. “Elements seen in this play were first recorded in the ancient Greek comedies of Aristophanes, close to a millennium before Shakespeare used them. We see witty dialogue, slapstick humor, sexual innuendo, cross purposes and mistaken identity throughout this ingenious work. These comic staples continue to regale us through the modern ages, from Chaplin to the Marx Brothers, and right up to ‘Saturday Night Live,’” McLernon said.
Accessibility and identification for the audience have been the key to the popularity of ‘Midsummer’ and of all the great comedies of Shakespeare.
“He provokes us to see ourselves,” McLernon said. “In his wonderful characters and the crises in which they struggle, we have the opportunity to see many of the foibles of our own human nature and take some time to reflect on our own comedic shortcomings. But in this journey, Shakespeare also grants us great benevolence by allowing us to be witness, through the resolutions of his plays, to the profound healing powers of love, forgiveness, grace, redemption and peace.”
Professor Marlene Johnson, MFA, is voice and text coach. The cast is Allie Nichols of Tupelo, Mississippi, as Hippolyta; Alyse Rosenblatt of Dallas, Texas, as Changeling; Anna Whitlock of Alabaster as Helena; Antonio Mitchell of Phenix City as Oberon; Ben Lundy of Fairhope as Lysander; Brady Grimm of Fairhope as Bottom; Brett Everingham and Jacob Salathe, both of Hoover, Diego Villanueva of Houston, and Victor Trotta of Montgomery as fairies; Brook Payne of Birmingham as Peaseblossom; Caitlin Plumb of Foley as Philostrate; Camilla Almond of Atlanta as Mustardseed; Chance Novalis of Madison as Demetrious; Elizabeth Forman of St. Petersburg, Florida, as Moth; Hayley Procacci of Hoover as Hermia; James Noah Duffy of Atlanta as Robin Starveling; Jenn Palmieri of Alpharetta, Georgia, as Peter Quince; Jesse Clark of Scottsboro as Snug; Joey Parker of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, as Francis Flute; Laurel Floen of Tampa as Dance Swing; Marissa Hebson of Pinson as Titania; Meredith Morse of Westerville, Ohio, as Cobweb; Rachel Biggs of Lubbock, Texas, as Puck; Tanier Dutton of Carbon Hill as Theseus; Tyler Stidham of Chelsea as Tom Snout; and Victoria Cruz of Birmingham as Egeus.
The crew includes Rita Pearson-Daley of Montgomery as stage manager; Jackson Perry of Hoover and Megan Smith of Brandon, Mississippi, as assistant stage managers; Noah D. Parsons of Pell City as lighting designer; Olivia Skillern of Madison as set designer; Phoebe Miller of Birmingham as costume designer; Caylin Cobb of Pelham as sound designer; Terencea Holtzclaw of Talladega and Olivia Bowles of Springville as wardrobe crew; Joseph Baude of Atlanta as light board operator; DeUndra Walker of Mobile as sound board operator; and Nia Evans of Birmingham and Kaylee Radney of Oxford as scenery and props crew.