When we look at A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the play seems fairly “adult” in its themes and expression. While I had watched many Dream productions, I had never read the play and as I read the play before the production, I was fascinated by how well it delved into several things that young people think about: from misunderstandings between best friends and parental authority to first love. Moreover, I really wanted to do a full-fledged comedy with our students and this is one of the funniest classics I thought we could work on.
At the same time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream isn’t only light and frothy. It looks at different aspects of our personalities, aspects we tend to clamp down upon because they’re not socially acceptable and, also, beautifully explores softer emotions like vulnerability, betrayal, hurt and love. We have used a wide range of popular and rock compositions to communicate these themes and feelings, and I’ve tried to link songs, genres and artistes to the different sides of the characters in the play. This also fit nicely with classes I did with the children where I asked them to select songs that they felt could be connected with monologues by Shakespeare.
We have cast two actors for seven major characters in the play. Practically, this helps us cast 32 children but, artistically, it also complements the idea of exploring two contrasting facets within the same person.
As always, your children have bowled me over. They learnt their lines (by no means an easy task) with alacrity, came up with wonderful suggestions for songs for the characters, and would patiently explain their lines to me while I would plough through my formidable Riverside edition notes. Like last year, they get Shakespeare a lot quicker than I do!
I have absolutely loved working on this production with the children and I hope, by the end of the show, you’re as proud of them as I am.