MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM is really about teenagers and defying authority. Sure, it’s got a world of fairies and forest sprites and a couple of Kings and Queens, and a bunch of workmen after their 15 minutes-----but the centralizing story is the teenagers.
I’ve always loved this story because I was a rotten teenager. Not a criminal, mind you (didn’t really have the nerve), but someone who was forever questioning authority. In that way, I’ve never grown past those years. Witness my arrest last year in the Jobs demonstration downtown: You want me to leave this street? Well, I’m not gonna. Not because I don’t have things to do and also have to pee reeeeeeally badly, but because you said I hafta. So there! You’re not the boss of me!!
But I DID get to do Shakespeare in jail. Yessssssssssss!!!
So naturally, when I began adapting Shakespeare’s plays for middle schoolers, MIDSUMMER was high on my list. I mean the opening line by one of the storytellers to the audience is:
“Teenagers: Ya can’t live WITH ‘em; ya can’t live without ‘em. But sometimes they’re like a bad dream…….Adult says ‘Yes’, kid says ‘NOOOOOO’. “ And there it begins.
And right now, I’m doing this very adaptation of MIDSUMMER with a bunch of teenagers-----that is, the Morgan Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica is doing it in association with Salty Shakespeare. Three of the teens involved were in Salty Shakespeare Too, and performed in HAMLET this summer on the beach with us.
And some of the teens may question why they got stuck with me directing them, since I have the patience of a pea. Nevertheless. We’re all in it together, and I think it’s going to be an explosive rendition of this play. Three of the finest Salty Shakespeare actors have come to work with the kids on fight choreography (Sam Hardie), the final dance at Duke Theseus’ wedding (Chrisy Moore), and weird Puck/Oberon movement (Will Rothhaar). I’ve stolen outright some of Michael Toomey’s clowning from our MIDSUMMER production a year ago on the Venice boardwalk. And these talented teens can actually do it reeeeeeeaally well. We have had fun, but I’m sure they’re questioning my authority all the time------under their collective breath.
And for my part? I act like a child more than they do, stalking out of rehearsal one day because they kept talking backstage.
I reserve the right to act like an ass like anybody else. And anyway, Shakespeare wrote an ass right into this play.
So there! PERFECT!!
Salty Shakespeare is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Salty Shakespeare must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.