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Meadowlark Shakespeare Player's Present:

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Production Team

 

Directors...............Alaina Smith & Johnny Williams III

Stage Manager................................................J Paige Hilton

Assistant Stage Manager..........................Cait Redman

Lighting Designer................................Johnny Williams III

Scenic Designer...............................................Cait Redman

Costume Designers......................Mikaela Hanrahan &

    Petra Shearer

Fight Choreographer...............................Jacob Laitinen

Movement..........Christopher Niesner, Morgan Ford,

& Molly Patrick Martinez-Collins

Dramaturgs....................................................Hailey Pearce & 

    Caroline Lyons

Music Director.................................................Jacob Laitinen

Music Team............Mikaela Hanrahan, Adam Hobbs, 

          Genevieve Henderson & Pete Sheldon

Instrumentalists....................Morgan Ford, Allison Lyne

          Christopher Niesner,  & Hailey Pearce

Props........................................................................Cait Redman

Intimacy Coordinator...............................Matthias Bolon

Publicity and Marketing.......................Fawzia Istrabadi, 

     Mikaela Hanrahan, Shawn Passero, Fallon Smyl,

                 Johnny Williams III & Sarah Scarborough

Special Thanks

 

Sara Topham, Ambassador Feisal A. Istrabadi, Kellan Oelkers, Anna Taylor, Katy Shinas, Katie Mestres, Margaret Levin, Molly Minter, Kelsey Harrison, Rosemary Richards, Laman-Amel Y. Istrabadi, Mili Koncelik, Marie Lupia,  

Amy Wert, Tori Wright and the American Shakespeare Center

Cast

In order of appearance

Theseus..............................................Fawzia M. Istrabadi

Hippolyta/Mustardseed......................Hailey Pearce

Egeus/Moth/Philostrate.........................Pete Sheldon

Lysandra.............................................................Jean Roche

Hermia.................................................Sarah Scarborough

Demetrius....................................................Shawn Passero

Helena..............................................................Petra Shearer

Peter Quince...............................................Jacob Laitinen

Nick Bottom..................................................Adam Hobbs

Starveling.......................................................Cait Redman

Flute/Peaseblossom................................Morgan Ford

Snout/Cobweb..............................................Allison Lyne

Snug.........................................Genevieve K. Henderson

Puck..............................Molly Patrick Martinez-Collins

Oberon.............................................Christopher Niesner

Titania.................................................Mikaela Hanrahan

Understudies.............................................Emily Bassett, 

                          Gray Casterline & Katie Mestres

Directors Note

What was the first Shakespeare play you encountered? Many of us would likely answer A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s fantastical comedic romance with its hilarious troupe of tradesmen turned actors, powerful fairies, and unforgettable moments of love succeeding against all odds. Throughout this process, we have set out to honor the nostalgia of Midsummer while also updating this tale for students (and adults alike) in 2023. Our central figures are four young friends trying to deal with the pressures of love and self-discovery, which we know is something students today are familiar with. We have also sought to breathe new life into the rulers of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta, whose own story often takes a backseat. Through bilingual performances from characters in Athens and in the forest we highlight the individuality in our performers in the hopes to inspire our future audiences. Our interests have focused on unlocking the story of young rulers finding their footing in a new power dynamic and creating complex young lovers in realistic relationships to explore a story about accepting yourself.

 

As co-directors, we have worked to create a play that celebrates individual differences, especially seen through our four lovers: Helena, Demetrius, Lysandra, and Hermia. These characters face challenges because of the ‘old law’ of Athens, which creates an unsafe environment for the young lovers, particularly Lysandra and Hermia. Through their adventures (or misadventures) in the woods, old Athenian laws are contested and all kinds of love are celebrated and welcomed. Furthermore, contrary to typical early modern fears of the forest, our view is that the forest is a place of sanctuary: it provides an escape for those not welcomed in Athens, a haven for the fairies, and even a magical rehearsal space for the mechanicals. Like a vine growing up a pillar or a flower sprouting in the middle of a sidewalk, the acceptance found in the forest makes its way into Athens proper. 

 

The respect and reverence for the forest also aligns with Meadowlark’s mission of creating sustainable practices for our MFA company. Not only do the lovers find refuge and escape from the harsh law in the woods, but the fairy rulers have direct influence and demonstrate care over nature. We have explored this relationship through Titania’s consideration towards her fairies and by prioritizing sustainable practices in constructing our show. Our entire production team paid particular attention to the materials used to create props and costumes by reimagining materials already available to the program and purchasing from local businesses when possible. We also decided to use metal materials for our touring backdrop instead of plastic, keeping our environmental impact and legacy in mind. 

 

Our attention to nostalgia, individuality, and sustainability has had an impact on nearly every aspect of our production, from the use of sustainable crafting practices to the creation of bilingual characters who breathe new life into this classic play. Our version of Midsummer aims to inspire students from this area with representation onstage, celebrate identity, and, most importantly, show them a story where love wins. We hope you all enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Dream as much as we have loved working on it this year. 

 

-Alaina Smith and Johnny Williams III

Dramaturgy Note

A Midsummer’s Night Dream is a play about many things, 

but one facet of this mystical story is its narrative around 

young love. For this production, we wanted to emphasize 

an often textually overlooked aspect of these lovers:  

they are childhood friends. They have grown up with each 

other and are going through the growing pains of friendship 

blossoming into romantic love. We wanted to draw out this 

theme for our adolescent audiences because this is a 

developmental milestone that these young people are 

experiencing in their real lives. 

The New Victory Theater out of NYC has been conducting 

research on its young audiences and drawing out the 

impact theater has on young people. They divide the 

“intrinsic impact” of the theater they produce into four 

categories, one of which is personal relevance. Personal 

relevance is described as “When a show makes audiences 

think about their own lives or people that they know; seeing 

themselves and their stories reflected on stage.” By enriching 

the relationships of our lovers beyond what is obvious in the 

text, we can provide our young audiences with examples of 

young love in all forms: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Theater for Young Audiences advocate Kim Peter Kovac 

has noticed that young people grasp the concept of 

intersectionality more deeply than adults because “their 

own lives are so fluid, so many of them consider the fluidity 

to be positive.” By representing different gender and 

sexuality identities that challenge traditional casting 

tropes within our production of Midsummer, we are 

inviting conversations around lived experience that 

young people are begging to have. The Founder and 

Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Theatre Jacqueline 

Russell offers this call to action for companies looking to 

produce theater for young audiences: 

“Let’s be bold and encourage honest engagement and 

difficult dialogues and present our audiences with a 

world that is complex.” With this production of 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we present young people 

with the complexities of young love, magic, mischief and 

self-expression, an aim which speaks to the mission of 

Meadowlark Shakespeare Players.

While presenting young love, magic, mischief and 

self-expression to local young audiences, this production of 

Midsummer also aims to bring their home to them. 

By setting the play in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the audience 

can feel the familiarity of their own backyard while dealing 

with these complex issues, thus reminding them that the 

forest can be a safe haven to those that need it. We bring 

the forest alive through the bodies of the fairies and the 

magic that they create. The magic of the Blue Ridge 

Mountains is mixed with traditions from the Cherokee and 

Choctaw tribes as well as traditions from enslaved people 

brought over through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

Colonizers combined their own native traditions with the 

traditions of the enslaved and colonized people, creating 

Appalachian magic. This magic system is still being 

used today, and this production respectfully draws 

inspiration from its materials and practices.

  Midsummer draws upon the Appalachian mountains in 

another way: through its music. The traditional music of the 

Appalachians is specific to this region due to the unique 

combination of different cultures that inhabit it. As we 

researched, we wanted to highlight the culture of the 

Appalachian people and the different ways in which 

Midsummer brings that to the stage, reminding our 

audience that these stories and these people exist within 

their own worlds. Sometimes even in their own backyard.

 

-Caroline Lyons and Hailey Pearce

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