By Leah Morrison
SC Contributing Writer
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” lit up the stage at ESU’s Smith-McFarland Theatre this weekend.
The story intertwines three couples’ love lives in the wilderness and heat of summer. Fairies enjoy playing pranks on the couples and altering the men’s love interests, causing conflicts between the women.
The tale traditionally takes place in the woods, and Director Stephanie Daventry French and Scenic and Costume Designer Yoshinori Tanakura created a dream-like forest experience beginning outside the theatre with decorated trees lit along the sidewalk.
Professor French, previously the director of “Romeo and Juliet” at ESU, also taught a Shakespearian acting class last spring, giving many students an early experience with Shakespeare.
She believes that Shakespeare is the best teacher for theatre majors “because his work is so evocative, you can’t help but create a response to it.” For those that didn’t take the class, she offered individual time to coach them in order to catch them up.
Auditions were held at the beginning of the semester and were open to all students, regardless of major. Rehearsals began the week before Spring Break and started at three hours a night, increasing through the semester and eventually leading up to one seemingly non-stop rehearsal the week before the first performance.
During this critical week, you likely had not seen the cast members hanging out in the University Center or their residence halls on campus. However, there were a few sightings of naps taken in a hammock outside the art building. These cast members appeared to have checked into Hotel Fine and Performing Arts Center for a weeklong stay they refer to as “Tech Week.”
Luis Feliciano, a sophomore Theatre and Spanish major, said, “We live [at the Fine and Performing Arts Center] during Tech Week. We have a workout every morning to get the blood rushing. We get ready to dance. When we are not rehearsing, we eat, study, and nap together here. We only leave if we have to go to a class on campus and then we come right back.”
Feliciano played lead roles Bottom the Weaver and Pyramus.
Tech Week, like the name suggests, included the technology and behind-the-scenes crew. Cast members Asia Burnett and Jamil Joseph were busy working with the Sound Design crew in addition to acting.
They created the songs and sound effects that the soundboard operator played during the performance. Burnett, a sophomore, recently got into Sound Design this year and wants to continue doing it while attending graduate school.
For many seniors, such as Michael Lloret (pronounced “Bobkins,” he said with a straight face), this is their last performance at ESU. Lloret, who nailed the role of mischievous Puck, is a Musical Theatre major and president of the Musical Theatre Organization.
After graduation, he wants to live in New York and work on Broadway. Lloret also works in Sound Design and has been writing songs since his freshman year, something that came easy to him since he plays piano and guitar.
To the average college student without much knowledge of Shakespeare, there were a few modern-day scenes in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” During the climax, there was a battle between the two bachelors for Hermia’s hand in marriage.
Joseph and sophomore Zach Lee took the stage in a classic dance-off, arousing the audience. Lee, formerly a star of “Footloose,” showed off his Kevin Bacon-inspired moves and then continued to entertain the crowd with an impressive break dance.
This performance marked a debut at ESU for Lee and visiting student Mia Ji.
Ji is a student of Shanghai Normal University, where she plans on returning to the Xie Jin Television and Film Art College of SNU.
Of course, none of this could have happened without the support of sponsors: Strunky’s Pub, Bloom Flowers & Gifts, The Dressing Room, and The Gallery at Liztech.
Students who wish to participate in the theatre department’s fall production should look out for the date of auditions at the start of fall semester.
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