Reimagining Midsummer in era of Zoom

SPU’s Theatre Program brings Shakespeare’s classic to computer screen

Keegan Daley, Staff Reporter

The cast welcomes the audience with a harmony. (Sharli Mishra)

Coming into the new year with a fresh perspective of what theatre can be amidst a pandemic, “The Midsummer Project” brings one of William Shakespeare’s classic tales to life in a way we’ve all become accustomed to – through Zoom.

“The Midsummer Project”, directed by CT Doescher, is a virtual reading of Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” split into three nights, the last of which occurred Saturday, March 6, 2021.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a story of love, laughter, and magic.

Set in Athens, the play centers around the love story of many, including Hippolyta, the Queen of the Amazon, and Theseus, the Duke of Athens. With secrets, betrayals, and more, the plot thickens throughout the entirety of the reading.

In addition to the complicated love narratives, quarrels ensue between Titania and Oberon, Queen and King of the fairies. This pair of royalty is fighting over a young Indian prince. In hopes to seek revenge on his queen, Oberon orders troublesome fairy, Puck, to pick a magical flower that holds the power to make one fall in love, and to give it to Titania. Chaos and hilarity are sparked when Puck gets a little too mischievous and uses the potion on our ‘lover’ characters as well, making them fall in love with the wrong people.

The fondness for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” lives on in the hearts of many. It lived up to the excitement of revisiting this farcical story once again.

Theater students recreate A Midsummer’s Night Dream using a new medium. (Sharli Mishra)

Though actors were not onstage, props and set design still played a significant role in this virtual event. The Athenians had paper crowns and fans while the fairies donned paper wings and flowers, all in front of a lush woodland background.

Sophomore theatre performance major, Ellie Duenow, who plays Hippolyta and Titania, said that putting on a show virtually was a lot different from an in person production, making for an interesting challenge.

“A big part of acting is feeding off of the energy that we give to each other on stage, and the energy we give and take from the audience,” Duenow said.

With its challenges, the reading also presented its victories. Junior theatre performance major Giao Nguyen, who portrays Theseus and Oberon, said that this online format has helped make theatre more accessible.

“Most of our cast is on-campus, but rehearsing online really is bringing the essence of rehearsing again like we had in-person,” Nguyen said. “Students are missing and itching for that chance to have theatre again, and these opportunities are still an amazing way for students to experience something despite all that is happening.”

Through Zoom, the actors were able to tell a compelling story, not relying on grandiosity and mystique, but rather their raw, stripped down acting ability.

Hannah Peek’s performance as Hermia was a standout for me. She beautifully showcased Hermia’s love for Lysander, and had an outstanding grasp of the Shakespearean style.

With a humble beginning comes a happy ending, the team cheerfully finishes the production. (Sharli Mishra)

Alycia Linton’s Helena was also captivating and extremely convincing. And of course, fan-favourite Puck, portrayed by senior theatre performance major Jenn Kirchner, was a highlight of the performance as well. Kirchner truly captures Puck’s mischievous nature, and has great comedic timing for good measure.

“I love how resilient theatre people are, as demonstrated by all the ways theatre is still happening virtually. It’s not the same as performing live, but I think it’s important to be creating theatre in any capacity still,” Kirchner said. “It’s still a fun process and I think a really good experience to have under my belt as an actor.”

Especially right now, it’s important to be able to have creative outlets like these. Being able to perform, regardless of format, has been a blessing to anyone in theatre right now.

“I also enjoy just getting to perform again because none of us have really been able to do that for a year,” said Duenow. “I’m also excited to further build my characters and to see what the rest of the cast does with their own characters.”

I was thrilled to watch one of my favourite plays come to life, especially when levity like this is much needed right now. Even though Zoom obviously is not the ideal stage on which to perform, the cast and crew showcased their talents and ability to recreate the magic of a live performance.