The St. Olaf theater department’s newest production, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” enchanted its audiences this past weekend. The show transformed the Kelsey Theater stage into a world unlike our own. Walking into the theater, every audience member carried a different burden: some struggled with a week full of tears, a week of stress or a mountain of homework. Others just needed a night to escape reality. No matter how each audience member felt or whatever overwhelmed their minds, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” served as much needed a period of escapism.
“After Tuesday, we didn’t know what to expect. But art heals and art helps process events like this. We wanted ‘Midsummer’ to be an escape from that reality,” said Dario Villalobos ’18, who plays the role of Lysander.
From the set to the story to the characters, the show brought its audience out of our world to a new, fantastical reality.
The set was a creative compilation of nature and imagination. The strikingly realistic forest structure served as a stunning backdrop for scenes ranging from schoolgirl fights to comedic interludes to fairy dances.
“Can I get married on this set?” Ella Harpstead ’20 said.
The lighting only added to the whimsical atmosphere on stage. The show seamlessly transitioned from scenes with humans to scenes with surreal characters. Moreover, the music helped differentiate one character from another. Impressively, some of the music was composed by students including Villalobos, Zeos Greene ’18 and Rosie Linsner ’18.
The costumes and makeup also complemented one another. The human characters wore outfits and makeup straight out of a “Gossip Girl” episode. The forest creatures wore ethereal costumes and makeup straight out of a fairy tale. One would not think a gym teacher would fit in the same scene as a satyr, yet in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” they did.
To top off all the spectacle, the cast did a phenomenal job. It was obvious each cast member put his or her whole heart into each role. They were believable, funny and showed a range of talents. The actors completely immersed themselves in their characters, especially the fairies with their unworldly movements and alluring voices. The actors excelled in the physicality of their roles; often what was unsaid in the scenes added the most to the story.
For an audience, Shakespearian language can be difficult to understand. But the language did not serve as a barrier. The cast and crew of “Midsummer” had no trouble portraying the story in a relatable and understandable way.
William Shakespeare wrote the comedy over 400 years ago, yet the story, the humor and the lessons are still applicable today. It is a comedy with many different storylines that keep you enticed and laughing the whole time.
“Midsummer is a comedy. There’s strife in it, but it has a happy ending. And to its core, it’s about love. It’s all about love,” cast member Claire Chenoweth ’20 said.
Lysander loves Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius. Demetrius despises Helena. Demetrius now loves Hermia. Puck casts a spell on Lysander. Now Lysander loves Helena. Hermia still loves Lysander so she now hates Helena … and the love triangle gets bigger and bigger. Love is something with which we can all identify, especially in a world with so much hate.
Director Dona Werner Freeman ’80 wrote in the program’s director’s note: “At a time when hurtful attacks fly all too freely, and insults far worse than ‘Puppet’ are brazenly hurled, Midsummer’s powerful words have offered us the hope of a united reconciliation to discord, as I hope they will for you.”
If you didn’t catch “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this past weekend, you are in luck. This exquisite escape from reality continues next weekend with three more shows on Friday, Nov. 18 and Saturday, Nov. 19.