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Midsummer Night's Dream
Midsummer Night's Dream May 06, 2013

Midsummer Night's Dream Coming Soon
Shakespeare Returns With MCP

By Royal Ward
and Mary Tinsley Young

Since the first time writers were able to pick up a pen (or a similar implement of the day), plays have been analyzed and criticized. A Midsummer Night's Dream is no exception.

Shakespeare's frequently-performed comedy had fallen from favor by the middle of the 17th century. Describing a performance in 1662, Samuel Pepys wrote that, "it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life."

This criticism was based on the following story:

Duke Theseus is about to marry Queen Hippolyta and commands celebrations be arranged. Egeus comes to Theseus with his daughter Hermia, who is in love with Lysander. Egeus favors Demetrius for his son-in-law. The Duke orders Hermia either to obey her father or face the punishment of entering a convent or death. Instead, Hermia and Lysander decide to elope that night. They confide
their plans to Helena, who is in love with Demetrius. In an effort to win back his love she informs him of the intended flight.

Nick Bottom and a group of amateur actors meet to prepare a play--the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe--to be performed at the wedding celebration of the Duke and Hippolyta.

In the woods, Oberon, King of the Fairies, has quarreled with Titania, his Queen. He orders Puck to gather a plant whose juice, when squeezed on the eyes of someone asleep, will cause him to fall in love with the first creature he sees on waking. Oberon uses the juice on Titania and tells Puck to use it on Demetrius so that he might be reconciled with Helena. The first Athenian Puck sees, however, is Lysander, who has fled into the woods with Hermia. The first creature Lysander sees on awakening is Helena, with whom he promptly falls in love.

The actors meet in the woods to rehearse and Bottom's head is transformed into that of an ass by Puck. Titania awakes and falls rapturously in love with Bottom. To rectify the plight of the other lovers, Oberon squeezes the juice into Demetrius' eyes. Helena believes both the men to be taunting her. Puck lifts the spell from Lysander, whose love for Hermia returns and the four lovers are happily paired off. Titania's spell is lifted and she is reconciled with Oberon.

The three mortal couples are married and at the wedding celebration the actors perform their play. The lovers retire, leaving the palace to the fairies, and the Epilogue to Puck.

As we know, every point has its counterpoint. Ben Jonson declared that Shakespeare was "not for an age, but for all time."

Decide for yourself. The Marshall Civic Players (MCP) is staging the classic May 10, 11, 12 and May 17, 18, and 19 at The Franke Center for the Arts. Tickets are adults, $15;
seniors, $12; students, $8. As a special Mother's Day gift from MCP, mothers are admitted free with one paid child (of any age). Call 269-781-3335 for reservations.

Royal Ward is a retired theatre professor from Albion College. One of his many areas of interest and expertise are the works of William Shakespeare, and he returns to the Marshall Civic Players to direct A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Lending her youthful energy and theatrical skills to the role of Puck is Alix Curnow, who joined the MCP stage last year as Anne in Diary of Anne Frank.

Wearing costumes designed and built by Gayland Spaulding are Amity Reading (Titania, Queen of the Fairies) and King Oberon as played by Chris Blackford.

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P.O. Box 102 · Marshall, MI 49068 · 269.781.3335