A midsummer night’s ’tween
William Shakespeare doesn’t usually deal with confused ’tweens tryingto exit their childhood in the midst of a parental break up, but aDouglas College take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream twists the old taleto do just that.
William Shakespeare doesn’t usually deal with confused ’tweens trying to exit their childhood in the midst of a parental break up, but a Douglas College take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream twists the old tale to do just that.
Paul Moniz de Sá, who is directing the play for the B.C. college’s Theatre and Stagecraft departments, racked his brain for a way to update Shakespeare without losing the beauty that’s made it last for 400 years.
“The biggest thing for me is that I’m dealing with students, some of whom have never touched Shakespeare before,” he says. “We wanted to stay away from having our actors portray somebody that’s much older than them.”
To get that “youthful” angle, he turned to the Changeling Child. Even fans of Midsummer may scratch their heads, but the Changeling Child is the reason fairy rulers Oberon and Titania are fighting. He wants it, she doesn’t want to give it up, and the ensuing squabble ensnares all of the players in the play.
“The Changeling Child is often not even shown,” Moniz de Sá says, “but it plays a very important role. I thought I would bring that character up a bit and give an actor a bit of a challenge.”
Chief among those challenges? The Changeling Child doesn’t have a single line. Moniz de Sá’s solution was to make the midsummer dream the child’s dream.
“I started to equate that with what a lot of young people are dealing with these days, with parents fighting, divorce. I wanted her or him to represent the ’tweens who are not teens and not young children, looking back on their playground days, and looking ahead and dealing too quickly with relationships and sex,” he explains.
The Changeling Child actor also plays a fairy and Snug the Joiner, an actor within the play who performs with a theatre troupe to entertain the Duke at the centrepiece wedding.
“Through that character just being those characters, the Changeling Child has to all of a sudden become that character and switch between them,” he says.
This confuses the child at first, as she slowly works out her dream, but allows the entire production to be filtered through the mind of a tween.