A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare in the Courtyard
Dreams became reality on May 12th and 14th, as the Apex Peak Players brought new life to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, making for three wondrous renditions of the classic tale. In a night of music, theatrics, and laughs, the group brought a certain magic to their performance.
The unique stage, which was intricately woven into the courtyard’s landscape, set the production apart by creating an interactive viewing experience that matched the play’s lush natural setting. From scene to scene, the audience was immersed in the flowery language of the Bard as they followed the characters through the winding campus, emulating the twists and turns of the enchanted forest. Ornamented with colorful lights, flourishing shrubbery, and even an eccentric Volkswagen, the show maximized its space, successfully marrying the bohemian counterculture of the 1970s with the rich romanticism of the Elizabethan era.
The blending of these two time periods only furthered the message of the show, as the characters rebel against marital tradition, echoing the departure from societal convention common amongst the youth population in the seventies. Songs from this time were employed to connect the viewer to the decade, while further drawing this comparison. As unlikely as it may seem from a modern perspective, artists such as Simon and Garfunkel and John Denver (whose work was featured in the production) have been seen as controversial in the past by conservative groups, thereby further connecting the nonconformity of the characters to the context of the setting. Additionally, the implications of hippie culture present in the two protagonists’ wardrobe (Hermia and Lysander) create a stark contrast against the more traditional mid-century garb of characters that adhere to convention, thus emphasizing their defiance towards authority. Meanwhile, the more fantastical characters in the show, the fairies, are completely disconnected from the modern attire of their mortal counterparts, highlighting the differences in their ways of life.
The cast was not alone in their efforts to add whimsy to their performances. They were accompanied by children related to those in the Apex High School community. These younger actors were cast to play the roles of the fairy court, and their addition further contributed to the otherwordly ambiance of the production, through their height and vocal range. The Peak Players learned from these students, as they developed valuable leadership skills through collaboration and assistance throughout the course of the production. Additionally, they were able to observe the growth of these actors before their very eyes as they witnessed the confidence of the children swell.
As evidenced by their variety in age, on an individual level, the performers are completely different. However, when perceived in action, they work together in perfect synchronization. To achieve this effect, the Peak Players made sure to prioritize the more pressing elements of the acting process, such as line memorization and blocking. It was after this that the group focused on smaller details, thereby perfecting their craft. To properly interpret their characters, the actors took various approaches. They utilized analytical resources on Shakespearean language and poured over their lines extensively. Furthermore, they developed a comedic tone within their performance through thorough analysis of the play’s context, which in turn led to the development of distinctive, personified characters. Hunter Dennan (playing the role of Bottom) states, “Making sure you understand every joke is extremely important to the delivery. Heightening the physicality of my character during certain scenes also added to the comedic value of the show.” But perhaps the most crucial part of the cast’s process was working together. Ava Cobb (playing the roles of Hippolyta and Titania) elaborates on this, stating, “We were supportive and spent free time observing and giving feedback on others’ scenes or discussing our characters’ motivations and tactics with each other to better understand points in the show and how our cast mates were interpreting them.” This positive feedback loop fostered a collaborative environment, which only strengthened the connectivity that was imperative to the production’s success.
The show was a learning experience for the actors and their audience alike. Exposure to classic literature through the art of performance enriches the viewer’s mind by presenting a more digestible way to absorb such content. For the actors themselves, they have the opportunity to deepen their understanding of complex literary content through thorough observation of the script with which they were presented. Moreover, the actors were able to improve their craft and cultivate an appreciation for Shakespeare’s work.
The show’s closing also marked the last chapter in the high school careers of several seniors in the troupe, providing a bittersweet conclusion to an otherwise lighthearted show. Preston Smith, Aryana Figueroa, Joey Klieman, Rebecca Rager, Mathew Lyktey, Barbara Zboichyk, Jared Hernandez, and Dylan Schneider (a member of the band) gave their last bows, on what all considered to be a successful production. The sendoff was emotional for all, but the cast was thankful to end on a high note.
Overall, Apex High’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was well thought out and exhibited a great deal of creativity. From context, to set, to the acting itself, the show succeeded in providing an intricate, entertaining experience for its audience; as well as a touching final hurrah for its seniors.