A Midsummer Night's Dream
SITI’s first adventure with Shakespeare is born in the land of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, a place of migration and poverty, stark yet beautiful, full of yearning and dreams.A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the SITI Company’s first adventure with Shakespeare. What better time than the present wicked era to capture the necessary lightness of being and intricacies of this multifaceted fictional landscape? Our production is born in the land of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. It is a place of migration and poverty, a stark yet beautiful place full of yearning and dreams. The enchantment appears as if by magic via the imagination of people who have nothing to share but their hopes and dreams.
Note About Process
I want to tour the SITI Company A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The reasons are many. It is Shakespeare. It is our very first Shakespeare. I am immensely proud of the production. It is, after all, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which of all Shakespeare’s plays reaches out and touches people before they even encounter it. It is iconic, mythic.
We tour a lot of our shows. These shows are labeled avant-garde, brainy, visually arresting, challenging, poetic, athletic etc. Now here we have a show that is all of that, and it’s Shakespea
re’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. We have managed to do the entire show with only eight actors. Not only does this make the production more affordable, but also now I am convinced that Shakespeare definitely must have meant for it to be done with only eight actors. To have the same actor play an Athenian and then a Fairy and then a Mechanical is now, to me, obligatory. In many more populated productions of Midsummer there are three casts that don’t meet until technical rehearsals. In our production we had to seriously ask: What is a Fairy? What is a Mechanical? What is a Lover? How does the same body encompass all those aspects of life? The answers that we came up with are fun and, excuse my immodesty, revolutionary.
This is what I learned from directing Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare widened the definition of what it means to be human. Right now we live in a world shrunken by aggressive media, fast-paced modes of survival and the constant bright onslaught of endless electrical daytime. I found shared grace in the magnificent dark and moist landscapes of Shakespeare’s imagination in general and Midsummer topography specifically. We are better for having done the play. In performance, audiences join the ride with a magnificent appetite every single night. The play reminds us that the world we inhabit is far richer, more multifaceted and more mysterious than the repetitions of our day-to-day lives would lead us to assume. We need to believe in fairies and come to know that each of us has a fairy lurking inside.
Finally, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath inspired the design, both visual and aural, for our production. It is the Dust Bowl, a place of migration and poverty, a stark yet beautiful place full of yearning and dreams. It is America. Ours is an American Midsummer Night’s Dream. The enchantment appears as if by magic via the imagination of people who have nothing to share but their hopes and dreams. The context of the depression era, dust bowl struggle offers an arena in which the magic becomes even more special. With poverty as a backdrop, we use not stage machinery or tricks to create the necessary magic; rather, it is born of human passion and imagination. It is born in the bodies of the SITI Company actors.