A Midsummer Night's Dream continues Page to Stage's tradition of high quality Shakespearean theatre, bringing out the magic, the music, the mirth, and the underlying menace of one of Shakespeare's most loved plays
Director Sharon Maine was initially attracted to the theatricality of the work. "Shakespeare tells a story that is concerned with dreams and reality, and where is the border between these two things?" says Maine whose other projects include The Crucible, Noises Off, Cosi and A Midsummer Night's Dream for BATS Theatre. "I find this idea very dramatically interesting; it says something very fundamental about human nature and our need for dreams or imagined spaces. For this production I became fascinated by the idea, which has often been explored, that Hippolyta and Theseus are dreaming and so the whole fairy world is really their dreams, in which they dream they are King and Queen of the Fairies."
"I also love Puck's final speech which offers a lovely view of any production and of theatre in a larger sense. After all, no matter what we do, no matter how well we do it, no matter how serious our intent, it is all a dreamy memory by the time we conclude."
"In regards to personal memories, A Midsummer Night's Dream provided me with one of my favourite acting experiences when I played Helena in a BATS Theatre Company production way back in 1990. I also directed A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1996 and so it has been very exciting coming back to it, reading it afresh, and seeing so many things in it which really spoke to me today."
"Whenever I do a classic play I think about those aspects of the story that are timeless and universal. Although it is useful to understand what the play meant to Shakespeare's audience, I feel my task is to connect with the elements which are about our lives today."
Shakespearean plays can offer challenges for both a director and the cast for many reasons and this one is no different. Casting limitations have meant that one of the biggest challenges for Maine has been working with a cast where most actors are playing at least two roles. "This has meant they have had to do a lot of preparation in regards to establishing character.'" Maine explains. "We also decided early on that each person in the world of the court would also play a character in the world of the woods. There is a link between the humans and fairies as opposite sides on the same coin. The exception to this is the young lovers and Bottom, who, as interlopers in the fairy world, carry their own characters throughout, blissfully [or rather not so blissfully] unaware of the forces of magic. The organic and interactive nature of the staging in an outdoor venue is also an exciting challenge.".
There are, of course, those added blocking challenges that must occur when a production is being performed outdoors in a park, but, says Maine, it has given her the opportunity to open up the acting space wherein the actors can involve the audience, talking directly to them in asides.
Maine is co-owner and founder of Page to Stage along with Kate McManus. "Since 2010 we have been successfully producing shows for secondary school students including The Tempest and Macbeth," she says. " We usually tour our shows into schools but thought A Midsummer Night's Dream would be the perfect show to present to the general public. I have directed all of Page to Stage's productions so far, however we do have other members of our company taking over the directing reigns during this year."
According to Maine, A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that can be experienced on many levels – its humour, its humanity, its depth of understanding about relationships. This idea may also serve as a form of conduit for interconnectedness bringing home how life enhancing and communal a theatre experience can be.
There is a certain timelessness to the piece, feels Maine, as well as the wonder evoked by the idea that things are not always as they seem – especially in the fairy world! "Because of its light, fun subject matter, A Midsummer Night's Dream would make a great introduction to Shakespeare and this production is accessible enough so that even if you were not somebody who would normally go to a Shakespeare play, you would likely still enjoy it," she says.
A Midsummer Night's Dream will be performed outdoors under the stars!
March 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd & 24th at Wilson Botanic Park 668 Princes Highway, Berwick http://www.casey.vic.gov.au/wilsonbotanicpark/