A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known and loved comedies. It is cheaper viagra filled with fairies and magic, chaos and lovers who fall for the wrong person. When I found out it would be the Fall Major this year – suffice to say that I was very excited.
But there’s a twist. The familiar comedy will be performed with a cross-cast of characters, in some instances men playing women’s roles and women playing men’s roles. This production will seek to inspire the audience to reevaluate their views on gender, sexuality, and power.
“We hope to unsettle normative gender dichotomies,” director Dr. Peter Cockett explained about his production choices. “We’re trying to move people beyond the simple division of humanity into the male and the female, masculine and feminine, because those words are insufficient to describe the complexity of human identities and sexualities.”
Last week Dr. Cockett and his production team put on A Mid-Fall Night’s Workshop in Bridge’s Café, a cozy event where members of the McMaster community were invited to discuss and critique three scenes that were performed in a few different ways.
During the workshop, Dr. Cockett went through a detailed slide show about his production choice – what he hopes to achieve with the production, as well as a historical context of the play. Sexual undertones were always present in the play but were not openly recognized in Shakespeare’s time. “I think the approach we are taking is timely and pertinent to our society and I think it’s going to be a really exciting production,” Dr. Cockett explains. “The play is full of references to gender, power, and sexuality so it’s ripe for re-interpretation. Our production simply brings new perspectives to the text, exploring sexual identities that aren’t explicitly referenced in the play, but were still present in Shakespeare’s world as they are in our own.”
As I watched the preview scenes at the workshop, I was impressed and inspired by the actors’ maturity and deep understanding of their characters – they powerfully resisted gender and sexual dichotomies just as Dr. Cockett intended.
“At our auditions,” Cockett said, “we had a series of monologues for male and female characters and people could pick whichever they wanted. The roles they auditioned for weren’t determined by their sex…we were trying to keep as open a mind as possible throughout the audition process.”
The scenes at the outreach workshop were acted out twice, each time the actors portrayed their characters differently, and then asked the audience for feedback. The actors would perform one scene with either a heightened stereotype of masculinity or femininity while in another scene make it overly sexualized while the second would not. I enjoyed the discussion and hearing everyone’s opinions of what they liked and disliked about the scenes, how they related to each scene, and how the audience analyzed the scene on a deeper level.
Dr. Cockett believes McMaster students will enjoy the show for its comedy and for thinking outside the box: “I think it’s going to be very funny…I believe students are interested in relationships and sexuality and I think they’ll have a fun time and be provoked to think about themselves and their own relationships in new ways.”
Keep an eye out next week for an A Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired photo booth where students can dress-up and have their photos posted in the lobby of Robinson Memorial Theatre during show-dates. Students will also be asked to complete the following card: “what sexy is…” The Outreach Team will be in the Student Centre on Oct. 28th and 30th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be on stage from Nov. 7th to Nov. 16th and tickets can be purchased at Compass or through SOTA 905-525-9140 ext. 24246.