by JP Schuffman
Yesterday we talked with Tyler Gregory about 70/30's Midsummer Nights Dream, running this week only (May 26 - 28). Today we're talking with the cast and crew to get their take on what makes the play tick.
Mariah Helton (Demetrius)
Raine Palmer (Puck)
Michelle Foster (Executive Producer / Fairy)
Amanda Tipton (Snug/Cobweb)
Arri Lemons (Egeus / Costumer)
Curtis Bower (Francis Flute / Moth)
Saki Marie Harp: (Co-Producer / Asst. Director / Titania)
Gray Casterline (Lysander)
Greg Helton (Theseus)
KTC: Before we talk about this show in particular, lets speak more broadly: What aspects of theatre excite you most?
M. HELTON: The fact that no matter how many times you have seen a play, each production truly is different. Isn’t that amazing when you remember they all start with the same words on paper?
PALMER: I really enjoy the participatory energy that theatre has; the distinct impact actors and audience members can have on each other. It’s amazing how a simple laugh from an audience member can brighten a show’s energy, or how a particularly powerful performance can move an audience in tears.
TIPTON: It's the collective creativity and choices of everyone involved.
G. HELTON: The interplay between the actors. When you have a talented person working opposite you, there is nothing like it.
LEMONS: Theatre is about using one’s creative talents to help produce a story that viewers can immerse themselves into; it can release powerful emotion and thought. That release, that catharsis, is what it’s all about.
CASTERLINE: The opportunity to step back from everyday life and channel my energy into portraying the life of someone else.
BOWER: For me, it's the performance. Performing and connecting with an audience, when a joke lands, when I take a complex idea and communicate it in a few words, a gesture, and you hear the audience receive that, that excites me.
HARP: The unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the dying art form that refuses to die. Theatre’s got balls.
KTC: How did you get involved with this project? What about it excited you?
HARP: The members of 70/30 got tired of waiting around for opportunities to play Shakespeare. So we made our own. The most exciting part is seeing how this play has become manifest through the efforts of so many people.
PALMER: I got involved in the conceptual stage as a board member of 70/30. I helped okay the project and then decided to audition because I’m something of an acting shark - if I stop, I’ll probably die.
FOSTER: Tyler wouldn't let me not do this show. I've always been apprehensive about performing Shakespeare live and outdoors. But, Tyler and everyone else in this company has helped me build my confidence on stage. I've always loved Midsummer, and I've always wanted to play a fairy, so one life goal achieved!
TIPTON: I have worked with Tyler on several previous projects, and was really excited about the concept of pop-up productions: the challenge presented by having to adapt to each setting instead of having a steady run at a single location.
LEMONS: Honestly, I got involved with this project as a way to help out a friend. I worked with Tyler on a number of shows before, so when he needed someone to play Egeus and Hippolyta, I volunteered. Being a part of this production is exciting because it is not only my first involvement with 70/30, but the biggest acting role I have had in five years.
KTC: What’s something you’ve discovered about Shakespeare or this play in particular since you started working on the project?
HARP: At first, the rhyming couplets were daunting, especially while doing the cut. Cutting this script was quite difficult. So many of the characters are excessively wordy, and we needed a cut of under 90 minutes (and no intermission). Many of the long monologues were written in such a way that trimming the fat was almost impossible. If you cut one line, the rhyme was off, so you’d have to cut four lines. But at the end of that fourth line was the start of the next sentence which was picked up in the fifth line. It was a couple rough nights cutting this script. But I think we have something really workable in the end.
M. HELTON: I no longer hate Demetrius. Does that count? He was probably my least favorite character going into this, and it was a fight to understand him, and to be him. Then something was said in a rehearsal about the lovers being people of the court, and how their class status affected their interactions. Not all of what we discussed was kept, but it made me consider a different point of view and gave me a crucial point of access into the character.
PALMER: Rhyming lines, especially rhyming monologues, are strange. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re not reciting poetry, you’re speaking in rhyme. In particular, I’ve discovered it’s helpful to keep from focusing on the fact that the lines rhyme at all.
G. HELTON: That only drunk people would heckle the play as Theseus and the lovers do in Act V.
LEMONS: Shakespeare is not as “high class” as people make him out to be, especially when you realize that this play in particular involves torrid affairs and donkey f***ing!