The Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre lobby will steal the show from the main stage when theater students perform William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Only a few costumes and props are necessary to present this charming, humorous romantic comedy.
It’s a wonderful fantasy world filled with mischievous fairies, lovers, a king, a queen and many other fascinating and funny characters. Demetrius (Alexander Diaz, a second-year fine arts graduate student) and Lysander (theater sophomore Michael Bishop) are in love with Hermia (theater and dance sophomore Cassandra Rios), and Helena (Annie Rubino, a second-year fine arts graduate student) is in love with Demetrius, creating intense love conflict. The setting is Athens and a nearby forest.
Head of Graduate Acting and Directing Jack Young volunteered his time to direct the production in effort to help the numerous students who were not chosen for roles in any of the School of Theatre’s major productions scheduled this fall.
"We have a really deep casting pool this year," Young said, noting that the School of Theatre is growing and the number of theater students is more than double the 20 roles available in the major productions.
He said he believes practice is vital for actors, and likens it to playing the cello or a team sport. Practice is necessary to improve skill and achieve full potential, he said.
"If these guys get better sooner, then they’ll be better down the line when I direct other plays," he said. "Actors need other actors, a script and somebody to coordinate it, and unless all those things come together actors can’t act."
The time and effort the students put into their performance definitely shows. In one memorable scene, Titania (theater junior Leah Whatley), Queen of the Fairies, falls in love with Bottom (theater sophomore John DeLoach) after Puck (first year fine arts graduate student Kristin Green) casts a spell on Bottom, turning his head into an ass’ head.
The students’ acting brings out the humor of the ridiculous scene.
"I never had theater in high school provided for me, and I think just watching everyone and getting to work with everyone has really helped me see that I need to open myself up more," Cassandra Rios, a theater and dance sophomore who plays Hermia, said.
This experience was not only fun for the actors, but it gave them a chance to show off their acting talent as well as learn new things.
"It’s helped me grow because it’s opened me up to a whole bunch of new people that I’ve never done anything with before," said Glenn Spencer, a second-year fine arts graduate student who plays Egeus, Snug (Lion) and Mag.
When asked why he chose A Midsummer Night’s Dream as opposed to other productions, Young said, "Midsummer is a fun show with a good number of roles, and it’s relatively easy to produce; it doesn’t take a lot of set"
Young said many believe you can’t perform a play without elaborate costumes and sets.
"The costumes that Shakespeare’s actors wore were their street clothes," he said.
Sometimes they would add a sash or other accessories to show that they were a certain character or in a certain place, he said.
Some of the props used are a bench, a garland of flowers and flashing lights the fairies hold.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is free to the public and will be performed at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 and 2 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 3 and 4.