Tara’s lovely goodbye post would seem to be the perfect ending to this year’s coverage of Summer Shakespeare’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I wanted to make sure that I got my last thoughts out as well, though.
First of all, I want to talk about the show itself.
I’ve been watching or participating in Summer Shakespeare shows since 2010, and I must say that this has been the best I’ve seen yet. I can even admit that, having been in a production of Midsummer myself in 2011.
One of the things I am most glad about is that I was able to see the show twice–once inside (due to bad weather), and once outside.
When I realized that my first night would be inside, I was naturally disappointed. My guests had come a long way to see this play, and I wanted their experience to be to the full. As soon as the second act began in the basement “rain room,” though, I realized that I shouldn’t have been too concerned. The intimacy of the smaller space raised the energy of the performers and the audience alike.
My guests and I loved Puck’s genderless impishness, the lovers’ comic timing, and the hilarity of the mechanicals.
If the rained-out show was entertaining, the full show was absolutely magical. The physical comedy sparkled even more with the forest to play off of.
I also got to see the fairies literally in their element: they became equal parts perilous and
enchanting (as they should be). Their makeup was incredible, and seemed to fit the forest perfectly. Oberon and Titania were dangerous and powerful, making use of the atmosphere and dominating the space.
Their fairy retinues, though, were positively hypnotic. Even though they had few lines, these actors (predominately new comers to Summer Shakespeare) were all entirely invested. Their focus, movement, songs, and dances created the atmosphere and transported the audience.
I was amazed by the dedication of the cast, especially since so many of its members were new to the program this year. Every scene displayed their understanding of the Summer Shakespeare’s mission, and their enjoyment of sharing that mission with the audience.
As director Ron Parker said to me after the show, this minimalist production was really returning to Summer Shakespeare’s roots. Not only is this accurate in a technical sense, but I think in a relational one as well. Among the cast, there was a different kind of excitement than I remembered. The students had a sense of themselves as pushing boundaries and being forged together as a team against great odds. I imagine this is how the first cast of Summer Shakespeare felt back in 1986, when they were raiding dumpsters for set materials.
Overall, I thought that this year was a fitting celebration of Summer Shakespeare’s 30th anniversary. Parker and the cast and crew have so much to be proud of. I can’t wait to see what they will come up with next year.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of Summer Shakespeare, assistant director Corrie Riedl has put together a lovely video of past and present students saying what Summer Shakespeare has meant to them.