This article, written by Gina Montagna '22, originally appeared in the second issue of this year's Eagle Edition student newspaper.
The theatre program just finished its run performing Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with a circus-themed twist November 14-16.
This year, the play is directed by Technical Director and technical theater instructor Lauren Redmond '01, who normally leads the technical aspects in the plays. After students performed “She Kills Monsters” in the summer, showcasing the play in Scotland, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was a chance for more students to perform.
“We wanted to give those students who weren’t able to go to Scotland an opportunity to still perform in the fall because we knew we were likely going to have to add a second show,” Redmond said. “Mr. Davidson just looked at me [asking], ‘Do you want to do it?’ I am happy to do any kind of directing because it is fun, and I love working with the kids that way.”
Redmond always imagined her production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to have a circus theme lead by the character Puck. The play will be set in a Victorian steampunk era, where the lovers, Lysander, Helena, Hermia, and Demetrius, will be outsiders. The supernatural characters, Oberon, Titania and Puck, will be the leaders of the circus. The storyline will involve a crossover between the human characters and the fairies upon entering the circus and the mechanical side story.
“At one point, when the lovers run away, we go inside and we get to see the circus,” Redmond said. “All of the fairies that you would traditionally see are the circus performers. [The fairies] are the creatures of the circus.”
The play incorporated a circus theme, a shift for this classic comedy. Stunts and acrobatic tricks were included throughout the show. An exciting new set, a foldable, colorful circus, was also created for the play. Black-and-white costumes were also planned for characters in the circus as well as gray-and-neutral costumes for the leads.
“I want the circus to be what gives life [to the play],” Redmond said. “I wanted to pull away from [the traditional time period the play is set in.]”
First time actors have earned lead roles, and technicians, such as senior Max Duffner '20, took on acting.
“It’s been easy transitioning from tech to acting,” Duffner said. “My character, Puck, will be setting the scene in our version’s set under a big top circus. While I am not the ringleader, I am more of a boss [character in the play] and will put up and take down the tent.”
In rehearsals, students learned stunts and acrobatic tricks that tied together the circus theme. A group of girls playing the fairies did small lifts and holds and adjusted the stunts according to actresses’ abilities. Two boys in the cast with gymnastics experience, Weston Hargrave '22 and Adrian Sada '21, helped the girls practice safer stunts.
“I’m really excited to do a bunch of acrobatic skills because Redmond has a bunch of really cool ideas for us,” sophomore Emma Jerrier '21 said. “[Learning how to do stunts] has been really cool, stressful and awkward.”
Specifically, the stunt team worked on a pyramid hold, which requires six students in a variety of plank and leaning positions. They also included lifts where actors held each other up.
“It’s not your traditional [‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ play] ,” Redmond said. “The fun thing about Shakespeare is that you can mold it into anything. I wanted to twist it on its head.”