Directing: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

In anticipation of our Stage2 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream this March, we spoke to director Victoria Townsend about bringing this classic story to a new audience with a new twist.

How do you approach deciding on a concept/this concept?

Inspiration for "Midsummer". Coraline, Where the Wild Things Are, My Neighbor Totoro, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Inspiration for “Midsummer”. Coraline, Where the Wild Things Are, My Neighbor Totoro, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

I try to always begin (and with this production, especially) by thinking about our audience. This production is designed specifically for middle and high school students, many of whom might be experiencing Shakespeare–or live theatre–for the first time and who probably have lots of different feelings about that. Keeping them in mind, I read the play a LOT and begin to think about what speaks to me, what I’m encountering, and what I think they might be encountering, too, and see how we can find a window into the story that feels familiar and exciting for them that hopefully they can connect to. 

What connections do you have to the world of bedtime stories?

For me, I reencountered bedtime stories as I read them to my young children for the first time. It is really interesting to see what themes begin to emerge and how elements in these stories begin to shape their understanding of the world–and how stories work super early. I have begun to think a lot about the challenges we encounter growing up and how the narratives we are armed with help or hurt us in being prepared to deal with those. 

How do you match these “bedtime story” elements to the characters in the piece?

In Midsummer, I see a lot of the same themes that we see in bedtime stories. There are misunderstanding adults. There are young people who go into the forest in search of what they want. There are fairies and magic spells, and things get turned upside down. There are friendly townsfolk encountered along the way. People get angry with each other and then forgive each other. There’s seemingly a ‘Happily Ever After’.

What are you excited for audiences to see?

Victoria speaks to the cast of "Midsummer".

Victoria speaks to the cast of “Midsummer”.

I can’t wait for audiences to see this stellar team tackle this story. Our cast is so fun and inventive, and our designers have made some amazing choices that I think will make our audiences rethink their expectations about what Shakespeare is ‘supposed’ to look like. I’m excited for the audience to hear the show and the music/soundscape we will create, and I’m excited to get them thinking more critically about this story. 

Anything else you want the audience to know?

I hope that when you come to the theater you feel empowered to ask questions and have opinions about what you see. How do you feel about what happens onstage?

See Victoria’s vision come to life as our CSC2 Company presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this March at The Strand Theatre!

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