Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ aims to bring Shakespeare to modern crowd

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 5/21/2014

To fully understand William Shakespeare’s brilliance, Casey King said, a person needs to see the full performance of one of his works, not just read 400-year-old words.

“It’s really an apology to anyone who was forced to read a Shakespeare play in high school,” King said of the coming production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Ottawa University. “No one should be forced to read a script.”

To fully understand William Shakespeare’s brilliance, Casey King said, a person needs to see the full performance of one of his works, not just read 400-year-old words.

“It’s really an apology to anyone who was forced to read a Shakespeare play in high school,” King said of the coming production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Ottawa University. “No one should be forced to read a script.”

ACT Ottawa is set to perform the classic play Friday, Saturday and Sunday and May 30-31 at Larry D. Peters Auditorium on the OU campus, 1001 S. Cedar St. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on the Fridays and Saturdays, with a 3 p.m. matinee Sunday. ACT Ottawa also is planning a Shakespeare-In-The-Park performance 3 p.m. June 1 at Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa.

The play is to be performed with a modern update, King, director for the play, said, which will include modern music — the trailer for the production feature’s Queen’s “We Will Rock You” — and updated language to be easily understood by modern viewers.

“I think if you pulled Shakespeare out of the ground and had him start directing now, he would want to use popular music to help communication,” King said. “We wanted to use modern music to help communicate because Shakespeare’s language is the biggest barrier to communicate to a modern audience. So every choice we’ve made with this production is to try to get a person who has never seen a Shakespeare play and thinks Shakespeare is too stuck up and is impossible to comprehend, we want to get that person to see this.”

King, who is making her directorial debut, said many mistake Shakespeare as high-brow theater, but his plays actually were considered low-brow when they first were produced. What was funny to London workers in the audience more than 400 years ago is exactly the same comedy that average Americans find humorous today, she said. The original version of the play penned by the historic playwright was a comedy laced with attractive people, violence, comedy, love, lust, music, and lewd jokes about the French and venereal diseases, she said.

“He was trying to attract Londoners who worked all day and they wanted to come see a fun show, just like people now,” King said. “People still — now and then — people wanted to see shows that made them laugh.”

Although King is not a Shakespearean scholar, she said she has been interested in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” since she was 13. The play had been presented differently than Shakespeare intended, she said, and she wants to get back to his vision.

“Most of the time people have seen ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with a child cast, with pretty little girls in fairy costumes,“ King said. “The Victorians, when they got a hold of it, they decided to make things very pretty and romantic, but before then, when Shakespeare started, it wasn’t a pretty and romantic play. It was more of a rowdy and raucous play.”

King is excited for the grown-up version of the show the cast and crew have developed, she said. The production is coming together nicely because of the immense talent involved, she said, noting most of the actors hail from Franklin County.

“I have got a cast of really talented people,” King said. “There is not a weak link in the bunch.”

comments powered by Disqus