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Saturday
Nov032018

The Story of Midsummer Night's Dream

I'm getting ready to direct my next large-scale Shakespeare production, for Terra Nova Productions: A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I'll be leading thirty professionals, working with 150 people from across Ards and North Down to create the show, which opens on the 2nd of May 2019.  There will be dance, hopefully martial arts, maybe skateboarders, a choir, live music and more.  It will, of course, be exploring intercultural relationships in Northern Ireland, but more on that anon.

One of the first things I get asked by people less familiar with Shakespeare is, what is the play about?  They may remember Puck, and some lovers, and Bottom getting turned into a donkey, but it is usually a bit of a blur. With that in mind, here is the basic story as our production sees it.

So, here goes...

The Story of Midsummer Night's Dream

This Shakespeare story is set in Athens (Ards & North Down) where young Queen Thesea has just agreed to marry the Warrior Hippolytus to confirm peace between their two countries.

A group of WI ladies have decided to rehearse a Greek tragedy in honour of their Queen’s marriage celebrations.  They decide to include the new talent in town, a rowdy weaver from Donegal called Bottom. He thinks he’s brilliant and wants to play all the parts.

Two sets of young lovers are also trying to sort their lives out.  Hermia loves Lysander, an immigrant who has done very well for himself, but her father wants her to marry Demetrius.  Demetrius likes the idea even though he’s been secretly wooing Helena. However, he ditches her when Hermia’s father makes him a good offer.  The Athenian rules say that Hermia must do what her father says.

In the wild woods outside the city the fairy king and queen are having a marital spat.  They and their rival gangs of supernatural beings meet in the wood for a brawl. King Oberon is conspiring with his servant Puck to punish his Queen, Titania, and he decides to magic her eyelids while she's sleeping so that she’ll fall in love with the first thing she sees when she wakes up.  And let’s make is something ridiculous, Oberon and Puck decide.

Lysander and Hermia decide to elope, and run away into the woods.  They are followed by Demetrius who is followed by poor Helena. Puck and Oberon decide to make things right for the lovers, but unfortunately Puck magics the wrong eyelids and suddenly Lysander and Demetrius both fall in love with Helena.

The WI ladies and Bottom also head into the woods to find a good secret place to rehearse their play.  Unfortunately for them, Puck decides to turn Bottom into a donkey so that he can be the thing that Titania falls in love with.  Everyone else runs away screaming.

After a long night of confusion, shouting, running around and ‘amore’ between Titania and Bottom the Donkey, Oberon decides that enough is enough.  He orders the magic be taken off of Titania and Lysander’s eyes.

Titania forgives Oberon, and the two severed parts of the fairy world are reconciled in a wild dance.  

Lysander & Hermia and Demetrius & Helena are discovered by Queen Thesea and her fiancé.  Influenced by her own newfound happiness and the extraordinary stories of the night’s adventures, Thesea decides to do away with the old rules and everyone gets to marry the person they want.

There is a big celebration featuring talented people from across Ards and North Down, showcasing all kinds of different traditions of marriage from around the world.  It is an extravaganza of movement, dance, poetry, acting, singing and music, and they are joined on the stroke of midnight by the members of the fairy world in a final celebration.

To find out how to get involved with the production, on-stage, back-stage and more go to www.terranovaproductions.net/dream or seach social media for #ANDdream.