The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance is presenting William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by MFA candidate John Zibell.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be playing at the Wyatt Pavilion. Beginning yesterday, performance will run through Saturday at 8 p.m. with a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday. Student tickets start at $10.
The performance showcases a re-imagined version of the classic comedy. Zibell’s version is a lot darker and more sinister, more focused on the relationships of the characters than providing comedic relief to the tragic circumstances that the women in the play are exposed to, exploring not only their reality but also their fantasy.
This production’s concept aims to bring this play to life through Hermia’s nightmarish dream. It highlights the societal forces of oppression and their internalization into the young woman’s psyche.
“I decided that this wasn’t a happy little romp through the forest,” Zibell said, who also stars as Oberon and Theseus. “The women go through this terrible ordeal and then they come back to be married, and have nothing to say for the rest of the show. I wanted to focus on their realization that once they get what they want; they realize that it wasn’t what they wanted in the first place.”
The idea for this darker tale started when Zibell wrote a 40-minute film adaptation of the play, with only four actors. When the play was set to hit the stage, it was evident that four people were not enough, and two more actors were added. Zibell felt six performers was enough, but as a result, actors end up being double and triple cast.
“It’s really exciting to be a part of a new interpretation of something,” said senior dramatic arts major Allison Minick, who plays both Hermia and Peter Quince in the play. “Being part of such a small and intimate cast was my favorite part of being in this production.”
Moreover, various forms of multimedia add a dynamic twist to the play. The dream sequences in the play will be projected onto white canopies, which line the simplistic set. This transformed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream heavily relies on these video projections, as well as live video feed and live performances by the cast. The videos allowed Zibell to cut out much of the poetry used by Shakespeare to set up the fairies’ dream world and the natural world of the forest.
“This production has been highly technical, so it’s taken us over six months to stage [it],” said Avila Reese, MFA actor who plays Titania and Hippolyta.
Zibell encouraged the designers for this production to steer away from the traditions of a Shakespearian play and to explore the dreamscape that he is creating for this piece.
“The costumes for this production were difficult to settle upon due to the fact that play begins in the present and has neither setting nor era,” said Kara Branch, a first-year MFA candidate who designed the costumes. “During the initial design meetings that we had, we discussed the idea of cultural cloning.”
This idea of cultural cloning connects with the transformation and conformity themes of this production. Branch explains that Hermia and Helena begin as clones of each other and end as clones of Hippolyta. The two male lovers Demetrius and Lysander become clones of Theseus.
“This has been very tough,” said senior dramatic arts major John Greer, who plays Demetrius, Francis Puck and Ageas. “I have never been part of a show where we spend so much time on improve and blocking. This has been really gratifying.”
“I would highly encourage people to come out and see the show,” Zibell said, “It’s always interesting to see a new adaptation of a classic, especially with a cast as alive and gifted as this one.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit mondaviarts.org or call (530) 754 2787, or toll-free (866) 754-2787.
ANASTASIA ZHURAVLEVA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.