“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens at SOU

(Ashland, Ore.) – The Theatre Arts program of the Department of Performing Arts at Southern Oregon University presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare in the Center Stage Theatre on the SOU campus. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday, March 1-3 and March 8-10 and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11.

In one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays, imperiled lovers Hermia and Lysander flee to the forest from Athens, pursued by Hermia’s jilted fiancé Demetrius and his pining ex-girlfriend Helena. Hi-jinks ensue when the four cross paths with feuding fairy royalty, a mischievous sprite named Puck, and a troupe of amateur thespians, (mis)led by a vainglorious ass named Bottom.

Photo by Darek Riley.

“This play is one of the most celebrated and beloved of all time,” said David McCandless, director. “And it also gets produced a lot. A lot. The thing is, as a director, if you love a play and see lots and lots of productions of it and find yourself thinking, ‘this  isn’t the play I know and love,’ then that’s a sure sign that it’s time to direct it yourself.”

McCandless notes that the great critic Benedetto Croce characterized “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the “quintessential Shakespearean comedy because it explicitly depicts love as an altered state, which all the other comedies only imply. Of course a lot of the humor in the play derives from vivid depictions of the agonies, ecstasies, and idiocies of being in love. But we also want the production to work toward a more nuanced understanding of love that may potentially lend more heft and resonance to the play’s resolution.”

McCandless directed the SOU production of “You Can’t Take It With You” in May 2011. He earned his doctorate in Stanford’s scholar-director program, followed by teaching drama and directing plays at Carleton College and the University of California, Berkeley. John Taylor, program director of the Teen Musical Theater of Oregon and bandleader of the OSF production of “Animal Crackers,” composed the music for the production. Ellie Leonardt is the choreographer.

Darek Riley is cast as Theseus and Autumn Buck plays his bride Hippolyta. Leah Rose Sanginiti plays Hermia, desired by both Lysander (Gavin Douglas) and Demetrius (Shayne Hanson). Mig Windows plays Helena, who is in love with Demetrius. In the fairy kingdom, Nik Horaites plays Oberon, king of the fairies, and Shanti Ryle plays his queen, Titania. Alyssa Rhoney plays Puck, Oberon’s mischievous court jester. Scenic design is by Natalie Scott, costumes are designed by Hannah Wagenblast, lighting design is by Kimberly Fain and sound design is by Cullen Wright. Carlos Lopez is the assistant director and Sam Callahan is the stage manager.

Tickets are $21 regular, $18 senior, and $6 for students. Subscribers to three or more plays receive a discounted price of $17 per play for regular subscribers and $15 per play for seniors. The Theatre Arts building is located on South Mountain Avenue in Ashland, next to the Music Recital Hall. For ticket purchases, call (541) 552-6348. For more information, visit sou.edu/theatre.

Press release courtesy of the Southern Oregon University Department of Performing Arts.

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