Missouri State University Theatre and Dance will present Shakespeare's whimsical comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream Nov.12-14 in Craig Hall Coger Theater. Associate Professor Sarah J. Wiggin directs the production, which celebrates the chaotic, confusing, irrational, but ultimately magical and irresistible, nature of romantic love. She calls it "a story of lovers fleeing a situation of required marriage, and going into the woods. And as is pretty standard for a lot of fairy tales (and other stories), the woods are a place of magic and chaos... and sometimes danger!" In the forest the young couple encounters an acting troupe (or "mechanicals" as Shakespeare calls them)... and a band of fairies who, says Sarah Wiggin, "interferes with both sets--with the lovers and with the band of actors."
Asked how she feels the play works for modern audiences, Wiggin says, "I think it's understood very clearly by a modern audience. I don't think there's any sort of overreaching 'meaning' in this play. I don't think Shakespeare's particularly speaking politically (here). But the comedy translates across the centuries very easily. And people love the idea of mistakes being made, and people thinking they may be grander than they are--I'm speaking of Bottom, the one who is made literally and figuratively an ass of!" (Though this is a comedy, the character of Nick Bottom is a special case of "comedy relief", especially when the mischievous elf Puck turns his head into a donkey.)
Shakespeare managed to transcend the limitations of 16th century stagecraft by simply telling the audience what they are seeing--or not seeing, says Sarah Wiggin. "The audience was accustomed to being told, 'Well, we're now in the woods... it's now nighttime,' or 'it's now dawn.' And, 'I am invisible!' is a line from one of the fairies, so that the audience (recognizes), 'Okay, now we can't see him.'"
Some of MSU's Shakespeare productions in the past have been played in the intimacy of the Craig Hall Balcony Studio, but Midsummer will use Coger Theater. Says Sarah Wiggin, "I think the nature of the piece is pretty grandiose, and certainly the Coger space serves that. And the way the set is, the bulk of the action takes place forward and over the orchestra pit, so we're as close as we can get to the audience much of the time."
The production boasts a student cast of 21.
"It's great for all ages," says Wiggin. "It's a really fun comedy--it's a little over two hours with intermission, so the evening moves pretty quickly."
Performances of Midsummer Night's Dream in Coger Theater are Thursday through Saturday Nov. 12-14 at 7:30pm and Sunday the 15th at 2:30pm. Tickets are available online at www.missouristatetix.com, or by calling 836-7678.