Those who choose to attend the Residential College”s performance of William Shakespeare”s A Midsummer Nights Dream might not get the amount of relaxation expected at normal plays.
Audience members of the play, set in Nichols Arboretum, will be walking set-by-set through the woods in an attempt to experience the show in an environment tied to the play”s setting.
Residential College drama lecturer Kate Mendeloff, the director of the show, said the goal of the production is not to put on a play in the Arb merely for the sake of doing so, but to incorporate the Arb into the work of the actors.
“It will be magical,” Mendeloff said, “and it will really bring together the beauty of Shakespeare”s language and the magic of the environment. It”s a journey and a magical walk in the woods and a delightful experience where you feel involved in the lives of these characters while in this enchanted landscape.”
“This is a really unique opportunity,” RC drama senior Kathleen Nelson said. “The show is set in a forest and you can”t recreate a forest in a theatre. There”s no smells, no sun, no animals. Setting it in the Arb adds an element of realism you just can”t achieve anywhere else.”
“I hope that seeing this play in the Arb will make an impression on their minds so that when they come back to the Arb, they”ll be looking for fairies in the bushes and the magic of the play will change the way they see the Arb,” Mendeloff said.
Inger Schultz, director of development and external relations for the Arb, praised Mendeloff”s work on the play.
“She really views the Arb as a part of the play,” Schultz said. “It”s not just the venue of the performance but it”s integral to the performance and a player in the performance.”
Schultz also said various events have taken place since the 1930s and “40s in the Arb but that to her knowledge this is the first production being staged there.
“We”ve been doing small events on an annual basis but this is the first time we”ve been able to fund a production. A generous grant is allowing us to build and support this wonderful cooperation we have in the University with faculty and students,” she said.
The production is made possible by a grant from the Ford Motor Company, which will be supporting five different arts programs in the Arboretum over the next three years.
A dance performance is scheduled to take place next year and a Children”s program is also planned for the near future.
A Midsummer Night”s Dream is part of an effort called “Arts in the Arboretum”, which was established in 1997 to exhibit arts in the natural environment.
Prior events have included a poets walk and several University artist performances.
Admission to the show is free but capacity is limited to ensure that the traveling audience can see and hear the moving production.
Open performances remaining are June 3, 8 and 10. A new performance has been added June 7 to accommodate high demand. Reservations can be made via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.