UCA brings the classics back with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Graham Shapley

Editor’s Note: Changes were made Friday, Oct.11 for factual inaccuracies. 

After 400 years of remaking, retelling and reimagining the works of William Shakespeare, it’s refreshing to get back to where it all started: with the original plays.

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This fall, the University Center for the Arts will present Shakespeare’s most beloved comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which follows the interconnected stories of four lovers in fairyland. 

Marin Stumpf, a Colorado State University student, plays as Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare. (Asia Kalcevic | Collegian)

The cast is a mix of students, some newcomers and some veteran actors, who have been involved in the theater world for years.

“I’ve been in theater since I was 11, but I’ve mostly been involved in design elements,” said Lukas White, who plays Puck. “Last year around the spring, all of the design assignments were already taken up, so I said ‘OK, I’m not doing anything. I’ll audition for a small part,’ and I got Puck.”

Despite its age, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” remains a highly popular play along with Shakespeare’s other works.

“There are people who dedicate their whole careers to Shakespeare,” said Ryan Volkert, a senior-year student studying theater performance, economics and data science and who plays Oberon, king of the fairies.

The show, having been around for centuries, has been refined down to an art.

“It’s down to when you should be taking breaths in the monologues and what the physicality should look like,” said Holly Wedgeworth, a senior-year theater performance major portraying Titania, the object of Oberon’s desires and queen of the fairies. “Shakespeare uses his stage directions very specifically to give you hints about what the play is about.”

White said to prepare he watched performances of “Hamlet” and “Richard III.”

“I would follow along with the script and circle where they were emphasizing the words,” White said.

Even though the stories themselves may seem outdated on the surface, the deeper themes and messages persist.

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“If you look at ‘Macbeth,’ nobody’s trying to overthrow kings anymore, but thematically, it’s still very relevant,” Volkert said. “’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is really just about power, passion, getting what you want, which is still a huge part of the human condition.”

“Shakespeare’s hard, but they’re great stories,” Wedgeworth said. “If you can act Shakespeare, you can act. Picking up a contemporary or modern play, it’s the easiest thing once you’ve got Shakespeare down.”

Although Shakespeare is so widely known, some methods of experiencing the writings are touted above others.

“It’s confusing that classes in high school read Shakespeare,” Wedgeworth said. “I don’t know how you’d get anything out of it unless you were watching it.”

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ will be playing at the University Center for the Arts Oct. 10-13.

On Oct. 1, the UCA put out a promotional video on YouTube showing off the set, a large wooden platform shaped like a wedge, lending itself to the play’s supernatural elements and making anybody standing on it feel off-balance. The actors had to learn not only their performances, but how to perform at an angle.

“It’s kind of like acting on the side of a ski slope,” White said. “My calves are really strong now.”

Though it has been challenging for the actors to learn to navigate the unique prop, the addition will surely make for an interesting addition to the classic play.

“It’s a little daunting,” Volkert said. “If you step close to stage left, there’s a huge drop off, where if you took one more step you’re going down. You’re standing there, and your ankles are at a weird angle. You’re off-kilter the whole time. It’s scary, but we’ve made use of it.”

Tickets for “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” may be purchased online at $9 for minors, $14 for seniors and $18 for adults. CSU students can get a free ticket by logging in with their CSU eID during checkout.

Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham