Red Deer College Theatre studies students are capturing the magical charms of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in this season’s opening production.
Performances run in Studio A on Oct. 11-13, 17-19 and Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday matinees will also be presented Oct. 13 and 20 at 1 p.m.
‘Magic, mischief, mayhem and madness’ surface when both humans and fairies are secretly dosed with a powerful love potion as this tale unfolds. And ultimately, with a little help from Puck, love conquers all.
“Puck marvels, ‘Lord what fools these mortals be’ about half way through the play,” explains director Jeff Page. “He’s referring to what utter imbeciles love-struck humans can become. This comedy features a tangle of love stories that we overly sensitive romantic types can relate to, and all can laugh at.”
Believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596 and hailed as one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, the play reminds audiences that falling in love indeed makes fools of us all. The light-hearted production pokes fun at love and romance when young lovers collide in the woods with feuding fairies and an inept group of craftsmen attempting to stage a play for the wedding of the Duke of Athens.
Page said that design-wise, the production draws inspiration from the stylistic sensibilities of the 1920s. “This production takes its influence from the 1920s, when society began to move away from rigid structures toward speakeasies, flappers and jazz music,” he said.
“The dramatic action begins when a young woman is sentenced to death for trying to marry a man against her father’s wishes. She and her preferred lover escape into the woods where they encounter a fairy world that is also suffering a power struggle between the king and queen. I found the 1920s to set up perfectly for this action.”
He said the decision to frame it in this time period opened the door for all kinds of exciting interpretive possibilities.
“The 1920s allows us to transform stuffy, Edwardian costumes of the 1910s, with high collars and stiff fabrics, into looser, frillier and sexier clothes of the 1920s. Because the fairies are creatures of the night, they wear stylish nightdress.”
There is also a glittering array of creatively-rich touches via the unique setting. What might be a tree could also be a lamp. A bush or a rock might also be a fairy. As playful as the woodland spirits, this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will trick characters and audiences alike.
Meanwhile, the talented young cast consists entirely of second year theatre studies students. They approached the production with a solid foundation in Shakespearean style already, said Page.
“The students have already taken a Shakespearean intensive unit with (instructor) Tanya Ryga, so they come to the project with a strong grasp of the rhetorical devices of the language,” he said. “Their work at RDC has concentrated heavily on authentic emotional behaviour within fictional circumstances, so they are truly personalizing the hilarious struggles of these characters. The language is becoming second nature to them.”
For Page, delving into each new production starts out with an analysis of the play’s action, he said. “Shakespearean characters approach the action with verbosity and passion, and they wear their hearts on their sleeves,” he observes. “I am thrilled to see these incredible young actors fall in love with the action of the play, and communicate it through this rich and vibrant language.”
As for audiences, he hopes that they enjoy a magical evening via a performance that essentially carries timeless, delightful and universal themes.
“I hope they forget that they’re listening to bizarre Shakespearean text, and get caught up in the desperate actions of people fighting for love.”
Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre by phone at 403-755-6626 or online at bkticketcentre.ca.