© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY SALLY COLE
Fairies take a break from rehearsals for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Produced by A.C.T. (A Community Theatre) the play opened last weekend and continues tonight and tomorrow at the Robert L. Cotton Memorial Park in Stratford. From left are Ashley MacLeod (Pease Bottom), Richard Haines (Bottom), Keir Malone (Puck) and Marisa Boudreault (Fairy). This play is building on the success of Macbeth at the park last summer during the Stratford of the Worlds Reunion.
After bringing Shakespeare to Robert L. Cotton Memorial Park last summer, members of A.C.T. (A Community Theatre) realized they were onto something.
“We had an enormous, overwhelming success with Macbeth, directed by Terry Pratt, which brought large numbers to the park. So we thought, ‘maybe we could do another one here in Stratford,’ “ says actor/publicist Justin Shaw.
So, when the show finished, several members, who are Shakespeare enthusiasts, got together over drinks and dinner to do play readings and talk about the bard.
“As we got closer to the summer, it was decided that we should build on that tradition and do another play. So, from amongst this group of gathering thespians, David Bulger stepped forward and said he would like to direct the play,” says actor Richard Haines.
And so, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has already run Aug. 16, 17 and 22 and continues today and tomorrow at the park, began to take shape. And as it did, it became clear that the play fit perfectly into the lush green space.
“When we were doing Macbeth last summer, I thought how nice it would be to bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream into the same environment because it’s the ultimate in-the-woods play. I also thought it would be fascinating to watch things happen outdoors....There’s nothing like seeing fairies coming out of the woods,” says Bulger, who is directing 20 cast members in various park locations.
“We start here at the white gazebo. We shift to the front of the deck, then we take it down to the woods where there are three locations. Then we’re back to the deck for a few scenes before the final scene, which happens almost where it started, the flower garden,” he says.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows the escapades of three groups — young lovers, fairies and the Rude Mechanicals, hard-working men of Athens who are looking to make names for themselves by producing a play for the king, in a story that intertwines comedy, romance and magic.
Ashley MacLeod says it’s the perfect play.
“You get to be sparkly and you get to dance around a lot. It’s a lot of fun,” says MacLeod, who plays Pease Bottom, one of the fairies.
Keir Malone is also fond of his character.
“I play Puck. He’s the bridge between worlds. Part of the fairies, he’s a mischievous soul that plays tricks on the Athenians. He causes all kinds of mischief and then is ordered by his king to clean it all up in the end,” says the actor.
Unlike last year where actors appeared in period costumes, this time they are performing in modern dress.
“There’s no need for Elizabethan costumes. That allows us a great amount of latitude for props, like this barbecue, which is part of the set,” says Bulger, pointing to the grill where hot dogs are sizzling for the next scene, where the Rude Mechanicals meet to discuss their upcoming play.
Using contemporary elements allows other freedoms as well.
“We have audience members who have mobility problems, so we have two electric carts in the show. We’ve blocked them in so they’ll be part of the action. Two of the actors will drive the carts at different times,” says Bulger, who hopes the fast-moving play is the beginning of good things to come.
If this year’s show is successful, there may be another one.
“If we’re lucky and the houses are good, we’ll come back with something else for next year. Who knows? Eventually this may produce a group that will work in association with A.C.T. to put on Shakespearean plays (here) in Stratford,” he says.
JUST THE FACTS
If you are going
- What: A Midsummer's Night Dream.
- When: Remaining performances are Aug.23-24. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
- Tickets are available at The Guild. For information, call 620-3333 or contact TicketPro at 1-866-0717.
- Audience members can add to their comfort by bringing bug spray and warm clothing as well as flash lights and lawn chairs to the show.
- If it rains on Aug. 23, audience members are welcome to attend the show the following day.