Friday, April 25, 2014

Director's Note: A Midsummer Night's Dream

I came to this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream through a series of happy coincidences.

I had seen productions performed in promenade and loved the staging. The experience of being on the same level with the actors, surrounded by their world, was an incredibly vivid and exciting experience.
I felt an immediate urge to do a promenade staging myself, and for several years, I have wanted to do so with one Shakespeare’s plays.

When discussions began in the company about Strangeloop’s upcoming season, I realized it might be the time to finally do it. Promenade is unusual and can put a unique, visceral, intimate twist on classic – a concept that fit right into Strangeloop’s mission. I also knew that we had The Side Project space. While small, it offered many things that could lend themselves to a promenade staging. With its large lobby and multiple doors, I felt it was a venue where the entire space could be utilized for performance. Moving an audience with the action through the space was another concept I had been contemplating for a long time. It seemed to be the right time and the right space for this staging.

I settled on Midsummer as the play because it’s a classic and endearing comedy. Much of Strangeloop’s recent productions, as well as my own personal projects, explored the tragic or dark side of stories. I wanted to do something lighthearted. I felt it was time to do a big, fun, rollicking comedy that made an audience laugh. Midsummer was the natural choice.  It has two distinct worlds – the "normal" world of Athens and the magical forest – which plays perfectly into the staging. And what I enjoy is, at its heart, it’s a honey-tongued farce that manages to be broadly comic while making incredibly profound observations on the nature of love.

Setting the story in the 1940s seemed natural, as well. It was a time of war, upheaval and some uncertainty, but the period somehow has its own classic, timeless sense that lends itself to so many stories. It was a time of darkness that produced to goofy screwball comedies and bright, boisterous big band music. That is ultimately what I tried to accomplish with this production – laughter and optimism in the face of uncertainty and darkness.

Holy Robison

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