By JASMINE L. HENDERSON ’15
Though many may be familiar with the forbidden love of Helena and Demetrius, the troubled romance of Hermia and Lysander, and other aspects of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Arcadia University Theater’s production of the classic comedy is infused with a fresh, local angle.
While updating Shakespearean plays is not particularly new, director Adrienne Mackey, artistic director at Swim Pony Performing Arts, was inspired by the cast of characters who reside in the Philadelphia area and contemplated which modern people could adequately represent the roles of Puck, Philostrate, the Fairies, and others. Characters of royalty would live on the Main Line. The mechanicals would be hipsters connected to the Main Line but who would venture into Center City. And the fairies would be the group everyone avoids.
“This is not your typical Shakespeare, though there are men in tights,” said Emma Ditnes ’15, who plays Titania and Hippolyta. “That’s more in jest of classical Shakespeare than it is serious classical Shakespeare.”
To prepare for the streamlined roles, the cast of 14 started with the physical being of each character.
“For Titania we discovered that she moves from her chest and that extends through her arms, which she uses to control her surroundings,” said Ditnes. “After we locked that in, the rest came to life.”
Bringing the play into a contemporary framework, the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words still resonate with the people taking them on.
“When you read it and look at it this closely with a modern eye, it’s weird that you can find these themes,” Jessica Jacob ’14 said. “You can see the childhood friend you grew up with. I love the direction that it’s taken. I love that we’re not trying to be Shakespearean.”
The fairies, for instance, give the audience a “look into the person you don’t want to talk to,” said Connor Feimster ’14. “Fairies are like these outcasts, these dirty, crusty punks. You would look at them and assume they’re homeless. Given that we are these mythical beings, we’re perpetually human.”
For Ditnes, the fresh updating is why the production belongs on Arcadia’s Mainstage.
“What we’ve done is proved you can do Shakespeare in any fashion you choose,” said Ditnes. “It doesn’t have to be this scary, daunting project. It can be a lot of fun and easy to fall in love with.”
- General admission – $15
- Arcadia students – Free with ID
- Non-Arcadia students, senior citizens, and Arcadia alumni – $12
- Nov. 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 8 p.m.
- Nov. 16, 17, 23, 24 at 2 p.m.