College of Visual and Performing Arts

JMU Guest Director Gives Popular Shakespeare Play a New Twist


 
Midsummer Lead

October 4, 2021 - Director and educator Oliver Mayes has turned one of Shakespeare’s most popular and performed plays on its head in the James Madison University School of Theatre and Dance’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which runs Tuesday–Saturday, October 12–16 @ 8 pm and Sunday, October 17 @ 2 pm at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was originally written in 1595 and set in Athens, Greece; this production is set in 1969 in Athens, Ohio. “There are a lot of parallels between this play and the 1960s, and we still see many of those elements in today’s culture,” shares Mayes, a theatre and media artist from Portland, Oregon. Mayes, who enjoys directing plays with style, or plays that are highly magical or fantastical, says A Midsummer Night’s Dream focuses on magic, patriarchy, but predominantly love—and more specifically on the power and difficulty of love and desire.

The cast features 22 theatre, musical theatre and music students whose characters experience love triangles, mistaken identities as well as physical and emotional transformations. In this heightened language production, characters speak to one another in a poetic nature, often using metaphors or rhyme to convey meaning.

Freshman musical theatre and School of Communication Studies double major Mason Jett is playing Lysander, a lead role, in his first JMU production. “Lysander is romantic and poetic, and I love to play that character type.” "The course of true love never did run smooth” is famously declared by Lysander to his love interest Hermia, played by senior theatre major Maddie Thomas. Lysander and Hermia are both part of The Lovers in a cast divided into groups that also include The Rulers, The Artisans, and The Fairy Band.

On a Midsummer’s night, The Lovers and The Artisans find themselves wrapped in the dream-like arms of an enchanted forest where The Fairy Band rules with live music. Part of The Fairy Band is the impish Puck, played by Carter Crosby who also composed and directed music for the show along with Allie Lytle. Both Crosby and Lytle are senior musical theatre majors; Crosby is playing the guitar and Lytle the guitar and rainstick in her role as Peaseblossom in The Fairy Band. Other fairies play the cajon, hand drum, tambourine, finger cymbals, and kalimba.

According to Crosby, the music is “‘60s-focused with a twist” and is different depending on the scene: it is pre-produced in The Rulers’ court of Athens and is live in the forest, where nature interacts with transparent elements of the set to create lighting representative of the psychedelic aspect of the 1960s. Costumes cater to the time period, and aesthetics differ between The Lovers, The Rulers, The Artisans, and The Fairy Band.

In addition to Mayes, the artistic staff includes JMU faculty members Richard Finkelstein (scenic design), Emily Becher-McKeever (sound design) and Kathleen Conery (costume design) as well as JMU students Skyler James (costume design associate), Sophie Sons (costume design associate), Catherine Holcomb (lighting design) and Juleanna Green (stage manager).

Tickets are $17–$18. For tickets, visit www.jmuforbescenter.com or call the Forbes Center Box Office at (540) 568-7000.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Cast                                                               

The Rulers

Theseus | Gavin Kiley     

Hippolyta | Amanda Willis

Philostrate Bridget Gooley [Hippolyta U/S]

Egeus | Natalie Garcia-Ruiz [Theseus U/S]

The Lovers

Hermia Maddie Thomas

Lysander Mason Jett

Demetrius Abel Haddish

Helena Joshua Higgins

The Artisans

Quince Sydney Miller [Oberon U/S]

Bottom Mitch Glaes

Flute | Jack Dalrymple [Demetrius U/S]

Starveling | Madison Munson [Titania U/S]

Snout | Steven Sullivan [Bottom U/S]

Snug | Cristian Bonilla Lainez

The Fairy Band

Puck | Carter Crosby

Oberon | Maleek Hill

Titania | Diana Afriye-Opoku

Peaseblossom | Allie Lytle [Puck U/S]

Cobweb | Liam Klopfenstein [Lysander U/S]

Mote | Lindsay Marcus

Mustardseed | Becca Stehle

Mush | Bailey Ryon [Hermia U/S]

Understudies

Helena U/S Elizabeth Humphreys

Philostrate/Egeus U/S Julia Bussey                 

Swings

Cover for Quince/Starveling Camden Gillespie

Cover for Flute/Snout/Snug Drew Duren

Cover for Peaseblossom/Mustardseed Makayla Parker

Cover for Mote/Cobweb/Mush Eliza Filatova

Artwork by Sue Overton.

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Published: Monday, October 4, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, October 7, 2021

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