Christopher Limber, the director of the Crossroads fall play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, wrote the following program notes for the play.
It has been my distinct pleasure over the past 5 weeks to work with an immensely talented group of students on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We have explored our telling of the play, investigating its language, character, story, movement; and the magic, both within the play and in our collaboration together creating Theatre. We have rehearsed most days after school, ventured to see a production at the Rep of Midsummer, and compared our work to another version. We have talked to some of the actors from that production, and we have explored the acting process and the special demands of performing Shakespeare. This has helped us to enjoy and devour every challenging minute of discovery, creativity, frustration, and triumph. It has been a rich and rewarding process. You will see a 2 hour cutting of the play as written, and I am so excited to have you join the theatre event – for you add the final essential creative element as audience!
Art is the only occasional rival of nature’s natural beauty and power. (Though I have yet to experience anything as stunning as a sunset.) To honor Shakespeare’s recurring pastoral theme of city folk traveling into the country for transformation, we’ve set Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a South Seas, a Caribbean-like environment in the late 1800s. The Pastoral jaunts into Shakespeare’s many forests should always humanize the characters, and I like to believe they return to city life in a much more natural, organic, and happier state of mind – No clocks – no laws – no taxes – having been connected for a formative while not to power, but to the flow of the earth; not to competition for its own sake – but centering on what the heart and mind requires and aligns with to feel satisfied and content.
The island environment helps cast a spell of Nature’s Power in the world over Shakespeare’s playful story of young love, parental authority, and the influence of magic to unleash the true yearnings of the heart. Love – instinct – the natural order of things. In Midsummer, love is rekindled upon man’s arrogant and idle attempts to control nature – each other – and the natural strength and force of balance, love and change. If man could, he would change the order or length of the seasons or try to live forever, but there is a natural logic to life and love, and there are natural cycles of life, happiness, gain, and loss that if we give up trying to control everything and accept the ebb and flow of life we become more unconditionally happy.
Our “forest” reflects that wish and allows Shakespeare’s story to sing in an environment of magic, fairies, light and celebration. It makes Oberon and Tatyana, King and Queen of the Fairies, open to learn a bit about governing their world together in love rather than trying to outdo each other like the humans invading their world that they are fascinated by and secretly protect and influence. It makes Duke Theseus, Ruler of our Caribbean Athens, respond to, rather than control his new love, Hippolyta; and it allows the Forested Fairies the freedom to play with us humans and show us what we really desire and makes us glad.