The desire to Dream again — SMT played A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Grange de Dorigny five magical evenings in June of 1994 — grew out of a sudden awakening to the fact that the hilariously dark comedy is a “homage” to Ovid’s divine Metamorphoses. True, all lovers of Shakespeare “know” that, but there are infinite degrees of “knowledge,” and the nature of “knowledge” varies greatly depending on where in our being it is situated: our head, our heart, our desire, our soul, all of these … Shakespeare’s great comedy of transformation grows out of his intimate knowledge of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a knowledge of the head, the heart, of desire and of the soul… A knowledge that cannot fully exist by simply being “known,” but needs to be celebrated, to be shared, to be played… and played again… because the celebration, the sharing, the playing allows both our dream knowledge and our waking knowledge to expand.
Before A Midsummer Night’s Dream can be played in this awareness, however, there needs to be a certain preparation, on the part of the members of a production as well as on the part of its audience. Shakespeare’s knowledge of The Metamorphoses — which he discovered in his school years and reread and rethought continuously — far surpasses ours. To do even the slightest justice to his intimate understanding and creative transformations of Ovid’s depictions of the unpredictable changes of our outer and inner universes — and their interactions — needs not only another replunging into Shakespeare’s Dream. It also demands another replunging into the psychological mechanisms that spawn the needs for and the anxieties created by continuous transformation. What better way to do so than rethinking The Metamorphoses ?
A Theatrical Mistressclass on the Gregarious & Moral (si ! si !) Necessity of Playing A Midsummer Night’s Dream (again ?) by The Queen’s Women: Mathilde Coquillat Lelia Flütsch Céline Kramer Vincenza Laughery Sarah–Jane Moloney Oxana Mroczek Roelaf Overmeer Andrea Reilly Rebecca Signer Alisa Steinhauser Lights Orson Gremaud Also featuring: Publius Ovidius Naso Arthur Golding + and his Labrador retriever A rare recording of Shakespeare’s mother’s voice! Also, also featuring: And the audience !
Comedies have a twofold function. They are meant to make us laugh and think collectively. They engender collective laughter at socially destructive behaviour in the hope that being conscious of that destructive behaviour will allow the community to correct it. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s most oft-staged and oft-filmed play is almost always played for its magical marriage of complex love stories and rambunctious humour. Understandably. The comic potential of love relationships is an inexhaustible ore which few have mined and expressed more insightfully than Shakespeare in his comedies. However, productions of the play usually sever the line of comic love stories from its darker, parallel line of force which seeks to identify the forces and systems and the individuals empowered by those systems that counter or pervert love. Our Mistressclass, consisting of theatre, staged commentary, and audience participation is a staging of the play’s rambunctious love stories, but also of the play’s expression of the forces, within ourselves as well as without, that desecrate love.