The Gustavian Weekly

Midsummer play in May

By Kim Krulish Staff Writer | May 9, 2014 | variety

It is down to the final weeks of classes at Gustavus and that means finals are approaching quickly, but there is still time for fun and entertainment. For anyone looking for a short break from studying, Theatre Professor Henry MacCarthy is directing a workshop performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” May 15-18 at 7p.m. in the Linnaeus Arboretum.

The play is familiar to MacCarthy, who has worked on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” before.

“I think in this particular production there are two things I’ve really enjoyed. Building the whole world of the fairies has been really interesting, and discovering how passionate the lovers are for each other has also been surprisingly exciting this time around,” MacCarthy said.

The actors performing in “Midsummer” auditioned in October 2013 to know if they would be part of the cast before registering for their Spring semester classes. As the production is being done in a workshop setting, the cast did not have rehearsal every day, but instead began rehearsing three days per week at the beginning of this semester. The cast is large, including characters such as the Athenians, the Mechanicals, and the Fairies.

“I’m excited that I’m working with so many new people that I have not worked with before. I’m also excited to be working with people that I have worked with a lot. It’s been really exciting and fun to see them tackle these characters that are very different from roles that they’ve done before,” MacCarthy said.

Senior History and Art Major Katelyn Juni is playing the character of Peter Quince, a Mechanical. The director and cast decided to change the gender of the character and call her Mary Quince.

“I love working with such a large cast. You learn a lot about one another but you learn a lot from each other on how to act and how to perform. It’s been a really great experience to work on this in a workshop setting. This workshop setting has been more intensive but has also given us as actors and performers more opportunity to bring our own thoughts and opinions to the table,” Juni said.

First-Year Psychological Science and Theatre Major, Deb Witherspoon is playing the character Puck/Robin Goodfellow, the attendant of the king of the fairies, Oberon.

“I think he’s pretty cool. The fairies are a very interesting bunch, they’re quite mischievous,” Witherspoon said.

No tickets are required for the performances, but there is no seating provided, so it is recommended that audience members show up early and bring their own chairs or blankets to sit on.  Since “Midsummer” will be performed outside, if it rains the performance will be cancelled for that day.

“I really appreciate the lens that our director is using to look at ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. People have a very strict image of what you expect a Shakespeare play to look like, and Henry MacCarthy is doing something with this play that I think is rather unexpected by bringing it to a contemporary age. We’re performing it outside, which is something that a lot of people on campus don’t normally see. We are performing Shakespeare in a new or an unexpected way,” Juni said.

“I think it’s always fun to work a Shakespeare text. This particular Shakespeare play allows for many different readings and I’m doing the one that is immediately evident to me. I do think that the way we interpret the ending is not the most common way that it’s usually done,” MacCarthy said.

“My favorite part of the show is definitely the end. I’m not going to say what happens because people need to watch that. But there’s a very interesting surprise twist at the end, a metaphor that was made literal by Henry’s direction, and I think people will get a kick out of it. I definitely do,” Witherspoon said.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of the last theatrical performances of the school year. For some of the actors, it is their final performance as a Gustavus student, but for others it is the beginning of their college acting careers. The performances will be one of the last chances for students to take a relaxing break from studying for finals and for the general public to see Gustavus actors in action this year.

“I’m really excited for people to see this show. Because we’re doing it in the Arb and because we’re doing it in a contemporary setting, I think that the audience will never be bored, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to,” Juni said.

“I’ve really enjoyed this whole process. It’s been a good show and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go,” Witherspoon said.

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