Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Glamorous 1930s Style at the Folger Theatre
The last date listed for A Midsummer Night's Dream was Thursday November 30, 2006 / 7:30pm.
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Lovers fall prey to the lunacy of love and the trickery of mischievous fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s beloved magical comedy featuring the spry Puck and the captivating Titania and Oberon. This unique production offers an upstairs/downstairs look at the 1930s, a decade that represented the last gasp of 19th-century-style luxury and its attendant Anglophilic class system. Set in this world of wealth and illusion, the show includes extravagant Busby Berkeley-inspired dance numbers.
The setting is also partly a tribute to the era that saw the establishment of the Folger Shakespeare Library, built in 1932 at the height of the Art Deco movement. This production brings the Folger’s elegant exterior elements inside and integrates them into the set design.
As often employed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the actress in the role of Hippolyta doubles as Titania in the dream world. Likewise, Theseus doubles with fairy king Oberon. This production casts Hippolyta and Theseus as well-to-do socialites and extends the doubling ingeniously, making Puck, the mechanicals, and the fairies all part of Theseus’s non-dream world. Puck is Philostrate; the mechanicals are his household staff led by first butler Egeus Snout and chief housekeeper Peterquince, with Bottom serving as his gardener; and the fairies are Hippolyta’s maids.
John Lescault and Deborah Hazlett perform double duty as fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania and betrothed couple Theseus and Hippolyta. John Lescault previously appeared at Folger Theatre in _Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth the Queen, _and Macbeth. Most recently he appeared in Round House Theatre’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. Deborah Hazlett makes her Folger debut as Titania/Hippolyta after appearing locally in productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Everyman Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, among others.
Kate Eastwood Norris plays the mischievous Puck and stalwart Philostrate. She played Beatrice in last season’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Folger, where she previously appeared in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, She Stoops To Conquer, As You Like It, The Tempest, and _Hamlet. _She is a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee.
David Marks plays Bottom, a gardener who, when transformed into an ass, becomes the object of Titania’s affection. Mr. Marks appeared at the Folger in last season’s Measure for Measure, and in Melissa Arctic and _Twelfth Night. _He received a Helen Hayes Award for his performance in Briar Patch at Arena Stage, where he was a company member for eleven seasons.
Catherine Flye plays Peterquince, who serves as the director of Midsummer’s play within a play. At the Folger, she has been seen in The Clandestine Marriage, All’s Well That Ends Well, She Stoops to Conquer (Helen Hayes Award nomination), _The Dresser, Private Lives, _and _Lettice and Lovage. _She serves as artistic director of Interact Theatre Company and has received twelve Helen Hayes Award nominations for acting and directing.
Ralph Cosham plays Egeus Snout. He previously appeared at the Folger in Elizabeth the Queen, She Stoops to Conquer, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and _Twelfth Night. _He has also appeared in numerous productions at Shakespeare Theatre Company and Arena Stage.
Briel Banks makes her Folger debut as disobedient daughter Hermia. She has been seen locally in A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas at Ford’s Theatre and Charley’s Aunt at Olney Theatre Center. Marcus Kyd plays her desired suitor, Lysander, while Tim Getman plays Demetrius, her father’s choice of husband for her. Marcus Kyd is a member of Taffety Punk Theatre Company and has appeared in Shear Madness at The Kennedy Center, Intimations for Saxophone at Arena Stage, and The Chairs at Round House Theatre. Tim Getman previously appeared at the Folger in Elizabeth the Queen. His local credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Theater J, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, and Source Theatre. Demetrius’ spurned lover, Helena, is played by Stephanie Burden, also debuting at the Folger. She appeared in Midwives at Round House Theatre, The Matchmaker at Ford’s Theatre, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at The Kennedy Center.
The other mechanicals/servants of Theseus–Flute, Snug, and Starveling–are played by Jan Knightley, Bob Barr, and Annie Houston, respectively. Jan Knightley has appeared at numerous theatres throughout Europe, including Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal National Theatre, Lyric Theatre, and Royal Lyceum, among others. Bob Barr made his Folger debut last season as Escalus in_ Measure for Measure_ and was seen two seasons ago in Black Milk at The Studio Theatre. Annie Houston reprises the role of Starveling, which she played in The Travelling Shakespeare Company’s 1993 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Folger Theatre. She also understudied roles in The Clandestine Marriage, Private Lives, As You Like It, and _Romeo and Juliet _at the Folger.
The fairies in the service of Titania–Peaseblossom, Cobweb, and Mustardseed–are actresses new to the Folger. Megan Dominy, who previously appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and _Hamlet _at the Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, plays Peaseblossom. Roxi Trapp-Dukes, who plays Cobweb, was recently seen in Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s production of Gutta Beautiful, and Rachel Zampelli, who plays Mustardseed, made her DC area debut earlier this year in Shenandoah at Ford’s Theatre.
Joe Banno returns to Folger Theatre, where he previously directed The Comedy of Errors (2004), Macbeth (2001), _The Tempest _(2000), Hamlet (1999), Much Ado About Nothing (1998), Romeo and Juliet (1997, Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director), and The Merchant of Venice (1995). At Source Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director, Mr. Banno directed Edmond, Tartuffe, Don Juan of Seville, Eastern Standard, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Private Eyes. His work has also been seen at Washington Shakespeare Company, Theater J, The Other Opera Company, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, and Opera-in-the-Chapel. He is an opera and classical music critic for The Washington Post.