‘Midsummer’ promises magical realism
A king strides across the stage, sword at his waist, holding the elbow of a woman whose hands are tied.
Despite these restraints, she holds her head high, eyes gleaming in the blue spotlight. The king, Theseus, unties her hands and begins to talk of their upcoming wed- ding.
“Hippolyta,” he tells her, “I wooed thee with my sword and won thy love doing thee injuries. But I will wed thee in another key, with pomp, with triumph and with reveling.”
During this opening scene of GC’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” stage manager Julia Whitten, a sophomore theatre major, explained that Theseus has captured Hippolyta and is now forcing her to marry him.
“Hippolyta is this Amazonian queen that this random king in a random kingdom somewhere just kind of captured,” Whitten said. “And she comes in with her hands tied up. So you’ve got an interesting power dynamic of this powerful, strong warrior being captured by this man.”
The opening scene continues with the appearance of Egeus, who wants to give away her daughter Hermia to somebody she does not love. This reveals another power dynamic, Whitten said, as Hermia struggles against her parent’s orders.
Power dynamics also come into play among the fairies, who are introduced in the second act.
Titania, the queen of the fairies, has taken in an Indian child. Oberon, her husband, is jealous be- cause Titania is showing this human child affection instead of him.
“Oberon is very demanding, very controlling,” said senior Jalen Frasher, an English major and theatre minor, who plays the character of Oberon. “He always likes to be in charge of everything. Oberon is the king fairy, and he basically controls everything at night, [and since] everything that you see in the whole play is happening at night, he’s kind of controlling everything.”
As the characters struggle to balance these differ- ent power dynamics, the play itself also attempts to balance the human world and the magical world.
“A lot of the show, in my opinion, is walking the lines of what’s real and what’s not real,” Whitten said. “[You have] these people with real problems, and then all of a sudden a fairy shows up, or all of a sudden someone gets turned into a donkey. Like you don’t really know where you stand.”
The fairies and sprites illustrate this magical world later in the play when they dance around the stage, carrying their lanterns. Some climb on ladders while other circle around their queen, allraising their arms in uidmovement.
Amelia Pelton, GC’s director of dance, worked with the theatre department to create the choreography for the play.
“We just wanted to capture magic movement,” Pelton said. “It’s more modern dance, lyrical in nature.”
Along with dance, GC’s interpretation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” includes singing. Whitten explained that it is not a musical, but rather a “play with music.”
“In the text, a lot of the times it’ll say, ‘Oh, they just sing this,” Whitten said. “And in a lot of performances of Shake- speare’s work, they either cut that part out, or they just speak it. So, we liked the idea of them actually singing and having a kind of more ethereal world... especially when we go into the forest...the dance and the music comes in perfectly.”
Despite the conflicts between power dynamics and between order and chaos, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is ultimately a comedy.
“The whole thing about ‘Midsummer’ is like, people fall in love with people they aren’t supposed to fall in love with, and that’s what makes it funny,” Whitten said. “When things aren’t supposed to happen, the audience knows.”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be performed in the Campus Black Box Theatre from Nov. 7-10 and 14-17 at 7:30 p.m. as well as Nov. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at gcsutickets.com.