PSU Theatre will perform Shakespeare’s romantic comedy of warring fairies, love potions, enchanted woods and mismatched lovers, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, beginning October 11 at the Silver Center for the Arts on Main Street in Plymouth.
Caroline Nesbitt, essayist, theatre writer and artistic director of the award-winning nonprofit theatre, Advice to the Players, Inc. is guest director for the production.
“It was time for our students to experience the language of the Bard. Caroline Nesbitt has done wonderful work with the students to make Shakespeare’s language accessible,” said Associate Professor Elizabeth Cox, director of PSU Theatre.
While the facts of the play’s source and origin may be debatable, the facts of its success and popularity are clear. History is full of adaptations and cultural references, Web sites, novels, dramas, musical versions, movies and even comics and games based on Shakespeare’s famous work.
The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazonian queen Hippolyta.
“The varieties of love and power are potent themes for any play, with results that could be anything but happy,” says Nesbitt.
“Fortunately, Shakespeare has chosen to turn a humorous eye on the vicissitudes of love and the folly of human beings in love. He throws this bunch of confused lovers into the woods to sort themselves out. There they run afoul of fairies and in particular the gleeful Puck, an Elizabethan trickster. Puck delights in chaos and immediately turns everything that has been assumed to be true on its head, but issuing a love potion erroneously so that Lysander (who has loved Hermia) turns against her to love Helena; and Demetrius (who has jilted Helena for Hermia) becomes passionate about this old love again.”
Nesbitt reminds us that in Shakespeare’s day, women were still considered to be chattel; belonging first to their father and then to their husband. They were not allowed to appear on stage. All of Shakespeare’s loveliest and most eloquent leading ladies were played by boys whose voices had not yet changed.
But Queen Elizabeth I become one of the most powerful rulers of all time, and set Britain on its course to Empire. “And, as Shakespeare shows us in play after play, women regularly spoke their minds (although sometimes disguised as men first), ran away from intolerable situations to marry their lovers, and in general found ways to make their power felt through all the channels usually thought of as ‘men’s territory’ — by strength, guile, policy or wit,” Nesbitt said.
“Not much has changed in 400 years,” Nesbitt continued. “We are all fools in love, fools in our dreams, and fools in our self-ignorance. When we laugh at the characters lost in the woods, we laugh at ourselves, lost in our own version of those woods. But it’s an indulgent laugh. In this play, at least, we are harmless and largely appealing fools.”
Scenic and lighting design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream were created by Associate Professor of Theatre, Matt Kizer . PSU theatre alumna Meagan Kimball designed the costumes.
Cast members are:for A Midsummer Night’s Dreamfor A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Oberon – Andrew Codispoti ’08, Holderness
Puck– Colin Malette ’10, Hudson
Titania–Julie-Anne Whitney ’08, Laconia
Theseus–Paul Hartwell ’09, Center Barnstead
Hippolyta –Angela Smith ’09, Holderness
Egeus/Philostrate– Laura Cole ‘08, Salem
Demetrius — Curtis Jackson ’10, Strafford, Pa.
Lysander–William Viau ’08, Salem
Hermia–Anneliese Friend, ’08, Southbury, Conn.
Helena–Jaqueline Fifield ’08, Pittsfield
Bottom–Graham MacDonald ’08
Peter Quince–Christine Titus ’09, Sunapee
Flute—Jeremy Zglobicki ’09, New Braintree, Mass.
Snout — Nick Reindeau ’09, Nashua
Starvling — Erik Barry ’10
Snug–Courtney Corriveau ’10, Bangor, Maine
Peaseblossom — Thato Ramoabi ’10, Africa
Cobweb — Marisa Johnson ’10
Mote–Julie Feltman’09, Sandwich, Mass.
Mustardseed–Allison Duhamel ’08, Nashua
Fairy–Elizabeth Daniels ’10, Cummington, Mass.
Nesbitt’s work has appeared in publications including Commonweal, Country Connections, Creative Nonfiction, American Theatre, Teaching Theatre, TheaterMania.com, The Boston Globe, and others. She also writes plays, adaptations, and screenplays.
In response to her perceived need for a company that would bring Shakespeare’s works to life for schools and communities in northern New Hampshire, in 1999 Nesbitt founded Advice To The Players, Inc., an award-winning nonprofit Shakespeare theatre with a strong teen mentoring program.
She taught theatre at the Sandwich Community School from 1993 to 2006, acting at The New Hampshire Institute of Art in 1999 and 2000, and has led acting workshops for communities and organizations throughout the state. She is also a freelance director.
Performances are October 11, 12, 18 and 20 at 8 p.m., October 13 at 2 p.m. and October 19 at
Tickets for the production are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for youth and $5 for PSU students (with i.d.) at the Silver Center box office, (603) 535-ARTS.