“The time for a comedy had come,” says Jim Kern, Brucemore’s executive director and a founder of Torchlight Theatrics, now know as The Classics at Brucemore, which will stage the Bard’s comedy under the setting sun July 8 to 17, 2010. The popular summer event typically draws hundreds of audience members each night, toting their picnics to the historic estate’s backyard at 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids.
“There’s no better Shakespeare comedy for an outdoor space,” Jim says.
Director Jason Alberty and his cast of faces familiar and new to the Classics stage are leaping centuries forward and backward to create a new experience for audiences, cast and crew.
Jason is placing the show in modern times, but employing an Elizabethan acting technique.
“The setting is totally contemporary,” he says. “During the preshow, as people are filtering in, they’re filtering into the Athens Mega Corp. Midsummer Bash. It’s a corporate party, with balloon artists, a singer/songwriter, and at one point, (Theseus, the Duke of Athens) and Hippolyta will be meandering through the audience, talking to their employees, which is their audience.
“The idea is that the show begins at the end of a corporate party, three or four days from Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding day. Everybody is invited back to the wedding, to stay and watch the shenanigans in preparation for the wedding.”
The nobles and the non-magical characters will be wearing modern attire, while the magical creatures will be wearing what Jason calls “uninhibited” dress, with colorful, shiny things and found objects.
Magic and mayhem ensue in the forest as Oberon and Titania, the quarreling fairy king and queen, arrive for the wedding festivities with their servants, including Puck, who turns a non-magical character into a donkey.
Along the way, two other young couples face obstacles making their own love connections.
Who will end up at the altar is anybody’s guess.
Jason added another layer of guesswork to the process by handing his cast the kind of script actors received in Shakespeare’s day: just their lines and a lead-in phrase. Today, actors typically get an entire script, so they can see everyone else’s lines, along with descriptions of characters and their actions.
The way of yore puts a greater onus on the actors to memorize their lines on their own, then develop the show together, instead of relying on the director for movements and context.
Witness the experiment for yourself this tonight through Saturday or July 15 to 17.
– DIANA NOLLEN
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
- When: 8 p.m. July 8 to 10 and 15 to 17, 2010
- Where: Outdoor stage near the duck pond at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Dr. SE, Cedar Rapids
- Tickets: $15 adults, $13 Brucemore members and students, in advance at the Brucemore Store or (319) 362-7375; $18 at the gate
- Information: http://www.brucemore.org/
- Extras: Gates open at 7 p.m.; bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating and picnics and beverages for preshow revelry; parking available on the grounds