Arts and Entertainment

Fantasy, comedy on Kentwood stage in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Members of the Kentwood drama cast for A Midsummer Night
Members of the Kentwood drama cast for A Midsummer Night's Dream.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Puck will be making his final appearance in Kentwood’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Kentwood Performing Arts Center.

With a younger, but equally enthusiastic cast, Drama Director Rebecca Lloyd said she decided to go with an all-time favorite play.

“It’s really funny,” she said. “It’s incredibly well written.”

The division within the separate sections of the play, Lloyd said, made it easier for to conduct rehearsals.

“It’s good to do because you have the mechanical are separate, the lovers kind of separate, the fairies are kind of separate,” Lloyd said. “The rehearsal time is less. Other plays they’re all mixed together.”

As one of Shakespeare’s comedies, Lloyd said it was critical for the students to not only understand the text but how to properly convey it on the stage.

“They have to dig for it,” she said. “I like to make kids stretch their vocabulary and stretch their wings. They learn how to present Shakespeare and over-enunciation. They have to learn how to enunciate things really clearly. It’s hard enough for an audience that doesn’t know Shakespeare to not be able to hear them. They’ve had to really work on that.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” like most Shakespearean plays, also leans toward a minimalist set.

To create a sense of space and distance, Lloyd said, the production relies on a team of technicians.

Another potentially daunting aspect of the play is not only its length, but the extensive amount of dialogue that had to be memorized.

“The best way to learn it is to memorize a little chunk and then memorize a little chink after that and keep going,” Lloyd said. “That’s pretty much what you have to do because if you do it any other way you’re going to get out of context, and if you do that it’s really hard to get it out. ”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” deals with the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazons. The story also involves four young Athenian lovers and rookie actors controlled by fairies of the forest.

Despite its age, the play’s focus on love, and the absurd behavior it inspires in people, gives it a timeless element, junior Heidi Sadri said.

Sadri plays Helena, who is hopelessly in love with Demetrius, played by fellow junior Levi Hawkes.

Sadri refers to her as “desperate,” but says the audience is easily able to empathize with the irrational actions.

“I think a lot of is still relatable today,” Sadri said. “It’s about the hilarious things people do for love and that’s something that will never go away. I think people recognize they do what the people do in the play.”

Shakespeare’s language also causes certain elements or sections of the play, one of which involves lighthearted references to sexual tension, to be either misinterpreted or misunderstood.

“I wonder how much of it the audience actually picks up on,” Sadri said.

 

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