A Midsummer Night’s Dream
the comedy by William Shakespeare
directed by Stephanie Shine
in partnership with
University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance
University of Memphis Mainstage
June 4-21, 2015
and the Margaret & Owen Tabor family
Additional funding provided by:
Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance presents a magical, family-friendly, VooDoo-inspired production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the U of M’s Mainstage from June 4-21.
The southern-infused production will feature the company’s largest cast in its seven seasons and will explore the expansiveness and technical capabilities of the U of M mainstage. The team of professional designers consists of present U of M faculty and alumni, and the cast features talented U of M actors interning alongside performers of Actors’ Equity Association assembled from around the nation.
The production’s title sponsor is FedEx, making possible Free Will Kids Night every Thursday night (up to four children 17 years and younger admitted free when accompanied by a paying, attending guardian) and the new addition this season of Family Morning Matinees for all ages every Wednesday morning at 10:30 am ($10 tickets for an abbreviated version of the show).
Additional funding is generously provided by Owen and Margaret Tabor, First Tennessee Foundation, Xfinity, and Independent Bank.
Directed by TSC’s Stephanie Shine (Romeo and Juliet, A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Southern Yuletide), A Midsummer Night’s Dream places Duke Theseus’ court in World War II America and the peaceful though mischievous fairie kingdom in the spanish-moss strewn bayous of turn-of-the-19th century Louisiana. Big Band, Swing, Cajun, and Creole music will be played live on stage by the hard-working, busking men of the French Quarter.
Since the 17th century, Shakespeare’s most magical comedy has been one of his most-produced on English-speaking stages. Likely written around 1595, chronologically joining the script with Romeo and Juliet, Love’s Labor’s Lost, and The Merchant of Venice – A Midsummer Night’s Dream is unusual when compared to the rest of Shakespeare’s canon. It has no readily identifiable main source. Shakespeare was inspired by the writings of Plutarch, Chaucer, Ovid, as well as folklore, but his magical play of chaos is likely his very own creation. Uniquely, he orchestrates four main themes, all entirely different, without relegating any to secondary status.
Shakespeare’s symphony of a narrative telescopes in a finite period of time. He weaves together the waking and sleeping worlds; loving and violent worlds; the spirit and mortal worlds; day and night; male and female; jealousy and compassion in a musical romp that is Shakespeare’s first deep consideration of the relationship between art and humanity.
The world of the Court, where Duke Theseus has violently triumphed over and won Queen Hippolyta, begins to spin off its seasonal axis as the nighttime spirit world ruled by Oberon and Titania tilts in a petty feud. Racing into the dark woods amid these shifts are four young lovers ruled by their hearts and Bottom’s group of musical hard-working men rehearsing ambitiously their self-scribed play. Fairie Robin Goodfellow (Puck) is the link between all the worlds, wreaking havoc through magic transformation of the heart and head (that of a donkey).
Out of the discord comes concord and a seeing of the world with “parted eye.” An evening of genuine playmaking and love transforms into marriage and celebration, which begets blessings bestowed on all the worlds, all humanity, all spirituality.
"Our production explores both the collision and the communion of different groups of beings,” says director Shine, while in rehearsal at the U of M mainstage. “The worlds within the play are vastly different, and yet common ground is forged when all are found in the same mystical forest.
“Throughout literature, trials by wilderness offer the possibility to emerge a changed being; and our play radiates with the same transformation for characters escaping into the night woods to question their desires. I can think of no more mystical, magical, and mysterious place in America than the bayous of southern Louisiana with its sultry mists, gymnastic cypress trees, and prehistoric creatures. The surrounding human cultures within nearby New Orleans celebrate and retain their origins through ritual, language, custom, food, and music unique to the region. What we know of Louisiana and New Orleans lends an exotic reality to this fantastical play, letting its powers of transformation root more deeply."
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