Approaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a youth theatre was pretty intimidating. Shakespeare does not having the following he used to (or still should) have. In order to take some of the weight of the dialogue off the actors we introduced the show as a play within a play. The “director” who also play Oberon, would explain some of the dialogue and help those who were less Shakespeare-savvy to keep up with the story.
The kids loved creating multi-layered characters. One minute they were fairies, the next they were prep school students. The imagery, quick transitions, and sound cues played a huge part in making this a fun, fluid production.
The older participants were also given an amazing opportunity to grow their skills. Delving into thoughts and actions they had never personally experienced, let alone brought onstage before.
The highlights of the show were
- Helena jumping onto Demetrius' back
- Fairies bursting into song
- Bottom's endless death scene
- The moment when the actor playing Bottom approached me and asked me, "Did that suck? Because it felt really good, like I feel like it looked awesome, so you'll have to tell me if it sucked."
Collaborating with an experienced actor like Kevin Mclean was incredibly valuable. Both for myself and the young actors.
Watching these young artists work together and bring all the unique elements into a cohesive piece was so inspiring. Shakespeare is difficult for adults, and I was working with 11 - 17 year olds. I was so moved, and so filled with pride, and I laughed honestly. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.
If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber'd here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: if you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.