A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare (1-4 July 2015)
Undertaking Shakespeare is always a daunting endeavour. So when St. Michaels Players' chairman, Alastair Dewar, asked me to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream, I knew I would have to think carefully about it before accepting. But then he said "It's our 65th anniversary production, so we want to make it special. And we've never done Shakespeare before. Oh, and it's outdoors". At least I knew the 'daunting' aspect was catered for.
The first task in dealing with such a well-known and popular play is to decide how you want to play it: the setting, the period, the style. Having just been involved in a fairly traditional version of the play, I wanted to try something a bit different, a bit more playful and fun, something more in keeping with the ethos of the group.
Thus the idea of the Woodstock theme was born. It has many immediate benefits: it's a great period for wardrobe and it gives us an excuse to have a band, food and music. But above all, it gave us a new way of looking at the magic that makes up the body of the play — with all the smoking and experimenting of the period, perhaps Puck is right: "we all do but slumber here". Doubling up Theseus and Hippolyta as Oberon and Titania, having the mechanicals as roadies and casting the fairies as more mature, drugged out hippies gives us a new way of thinking about this oft-heard play.
Once we'd agreed on this mise en scène, the fantastic team behind the production got to work. Helen Doyle's tireless problem-solving, Marc "Don't worry, I've already done that" Pearce and his fantastic set (and van!) design and construction and Alastair Dewar's calm obstacle-removing, to say nothing of the great and exhausting marketing effort by the committee made this a lot less stressful than it should have been.
But one of the most exciting aspects for me has been putting together this extraordinary cast. Seeing stalwarts take on Shakespeare for the first time, introducing great new talent to St. Michaels Players or, as in the case of Magdalena Jablonska, introducing great new talent to the stage has been a joy.
We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. From all of us, thank you for taking the time to join us for this Midsummer Night's Dream!
What They Said
"It was a wonderful show by the way, amazing setting and a perfect way to spend a summers evening." Kim S
Theseus/Oberon (James Mbanefo)
Hippolyta/Titania (Georgina Parren)
Demetrius (Tom Rebuffa)
Hermia (Olivia Gillman)
Helena (Lauren Powell)
Lysander (Jayson Baird)
Puck (Magdalena Jablonska)
Bottom (Alastair Dewar)
Peter Quince (Bryony Wilman)
Starveling (Steve Shotton)
Snug (Emma Beckett)
Flute (Mervyn Jupe)
Snout (Elizabeth Ollier)
Fairy Mustardseed (Madeleine Hazard)
Fairy Peasblossom (Christine Lee)
Fairy Cobweb (Sue Darrieulat)
Fairy Moth (Pihu Dubè)
Philostrate (Kay Porter)
Egeus (Peter Woods)
Band (1/2 July)
Vocals / Guitar (Galia Arad)
Guitar / Vocals (Andy Murray)
Bass Guitar / Vocals (Eamonn Doyle)
Drums (Martin Scott)
Band (3/4 July)
Vocals (Gerry O'Sullivan)
Guitar / Vocals (Andy Murray)
Bass Guitar / Vocals (Andy Godfrey)
Drums (Simon Smith)
Director (Paul Smith)
Production Design (Marc Pearce)
Musical Manager (Andy Murray)
Wardrobe (Jan Huckle)
Stage Manager (Helen Doyle)
Production Crew (Adrian Ellis, Fleur De Henrie, Marios Papadakis, Jo Harry, Richard And Thomas Wade, Louisa Barrett)
Business Manager (Chris Hulatt)
Front Of House (Members And Friends)