“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Modernized: PASJ Updates Shakespeare for Environmentally Conscious Audience

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Dancing fairies, competing lovers, and a tree made out of umbrellas. The Performing Arts and Social Justice department, with director Christine Young, will put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the most famous Shakespearean plays, from March 4-6 in Presentation Theatre. With only four performances, there will be a Friday show at 1p.m., and the rest taking place at 8p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. All tickets for USF students are $5 with ID card and general admission is $10. Alia Al-Sharif, who plays one of the lovers, Hermia, in the show, says, “I think when the audience comes and sees the show they will be surprised and delighted!”
Indeed, the classic comedy is modernized, according to Al-Sharif, taking on an “environmentalist” theme (that’s why there is a tree made of worn umbrellas).

She said, “I feel it helps the audience to relate to the language.” While that is true, none of the language has been changed according to Al-Sharif, but the original three- hour play has been cut down to 90 minutes, creating a feasible and entertaining play.

Not all cast members were thrilled about the idea of modernizing Shakespeare through the costumes and sets at first, but soon came to love the idea.

Midsummer Night's Dream by Ilyse Liffering
Forest Neikirk plays Oberon in green-themed play (left); Alia Al-Sharif plays Hermia and David Silpa plays Lysander in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (right). (Ilyse Liffreing/Foghorn)

For instance, Forest Neikirk, who plays the tough Oberon, says, “When I heard it was going to be modernized I was concerned, but when I heard all the ideas with the scenery and costumes, I’m feeling pretty good about it all.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is a play about four lovers—Hermia (Alia Al-Sharif), Lysander (David Silpa), Demetrius (Julian Micallef), and Helena. Hermia wishes to marry Lysander against her father’s wishes and so is given four days to choose Demetrius, go to a nunnery, or receive a death sentence.

Hermia and Lysander flee to the forest where comic calamity takes places with Oberon (Forest Neikirk) and Titania (Lauren Lasorda), the King and Queen of the Fairies. Hilarious characters such as Puck (Tess Bellomo and Katie Scardino) and Bottom (Daniel Martinez) make the comedy shine through.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed in the sizable, traditional Presentation Theatre. This will be the first time since the Studio Theatre has opened that a play will be performed in this space. Neikirk and Al-Sharif agree that it is the best space for a show of this magnitude. With a goal to sell out every night, the theatre should be a perfect match.

Al-Sharif and Neikirk are excited about their roles as Hermia and Oberon, and seem to have learned a lot in the process. Al-Sharif says, “Every time I perform a scene, I find new meaning.” Along the same lines Neikirk says he discovered all the layers to the character Oberon—a character he has always wanted to play. Having just seen Oberon’s tough side before he says, “There’s so much more to him than that.” Furthermore, all actors worked with a vocal coach for the difficult Shakespearian language.

The Mechanicals, who form the comedic chorus, are also excited about their roles in the show and want to stay true to their roles. One Mechanical, Hannah Bear says, “We are a collective—we are excited about everything.” Another Mechanical, Meg Tomasetti says, “The humor is so obvious that it is funny.”

Get ready for laughs and a night of great theatre as A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to USF in beautiful Presentation Theatre.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

Scene Editor: Tamar Kuyumjian

3 COMMENTS

  1. People really don’t realize the hard hitting impact in social justice that “A Midsummer Nights Dream,” modernized, really has….

  2. If Apple did not invent computers and Starbucks didnt invent coffee drinks, precisely why had they become so productive? The journey to offer the most up-to-date and more challenging products, though highly intoxicating, is often a somewhat jampacked line of business. Preferably, Apple and Starbucks built their own niche.

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