The Bard’s Most Popular Comedy is a First for the Ensemble
|L to R- Amanda Fassett, Mikey Costa, Alex Theologides Rodriguez, Saul Richardson, Joshua Myran and Kat Lewis in SCR's Teen Players production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.|
They’ve performed in classics (Teen Players, Charles Dickens’ Hard Times), Broadway musicals (Summer Players, Sondheim’s Into the Woods) and be loved children’s stories (Junior Players, The Velveteen Rabbit).
But never Shakespeare.
Until now. William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Nicholas Studio, May 14-15 and 20-22) will be the Teen Players first-ever production of a work by the Bard.
“There’s no real reason for that,” says Theatre Conservatory Director Hisa Takakuwa. “Clearly, I’ve chosen challenging plays for them in the past, and it’s not like I’ve avoided Shakespeare…”
And why would she? Takakuwa is a classically trained actor and longtime member of the classic theatre company A Noise Within, where she appeared in numerous Shakespearian roles such as Maria in Twelfth Night. Her other roles include Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at Indiana Repertory Theatre and Hero in Much Ado About Nothing at Grove Shakespeare Festival.
“I think, looking back, with each new season and each new group of ensemble Players, there has been a play that suits them well,” she says. This year, it’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream."
“Because our Players are vibrant young people, we’ll see the play from their point of view,” she explains, “which is naturally fresh and youthful. This will be an honest, straight-forward production.”
But it is Shakespeare, after all, and that calls for extensive preparation. “These Players are very committed to their work—or they wouldn’t be here,” Takakuwa says, noting that the cast is made up of the most enthusiastic and talented Conservatory students, but they don’t audition for the Players ensembles unless they are prepared to devote themselves to long hours of rehearsal—and that’s in addition to twice-weekly classes during the school year.
Takakuwa started rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the actors seated at a long table, reading the script—for three weeks. She says, “I wanted them to understand the poetry within the text before setting foot onstage. At the end of the table read, they needed to be comfortable with their characters.”
She concentrated on the three major themes in the comedy: love, transformation and dream/reality. “It’s all about how people change,” she relates. “The Teen Players are going through their own changes. They’re all in high school now, and two of them are off to college in the fall. In a sense, they’re on the way into their own forests.”
But first, they have a stop in the forest of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where four young lovers flee into the woods on a summer evening—and where strange and wonderful things are about to happen.
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