What better production to celebrate our 50th season performing in St Davids than with Shakespeare's most popular comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream? This family-friendly play is easy for adults and children to follow. It weaves the stories of three very different groups of characters through a series of hilarious comic set pieces, which feel like a remarkable whistle-stop tour through varied comedic styles. Four young lovers, faced with the prospect of an unwanted arranged marriage, flee into the forest. A group of working people (the famous "mechanicals") meet to prepare a play for a high-society wedding. And the forest's natural inhabitants, its mischievous fairies, are facing a crisis of their own. They all cross paths as night falls, and magic, confusion and silliness ensue!
A Midsummer Night's Dream was one the very first Shakespeare plays Festival Arts performed in the Bishop's Palace (King Lear being our very first in 1971). This year, we're paying homage to the company's happy history in St Davids by setting our new production in 1969: the year we first performed here. Our brilliant live band accompany the action with a new score inspired by the varied music of the era, while the costumes evoke the fashions of the late sixties. The Fairies are actually wearing the very same costumes which Joye Beckett created for that early production in the Bishop's Palace.
The Palace is an incredible venue to perform in, and presents a unique set of challenges. For instance, returning cast members learn to read the weather and predict how it might affect the acoustics of the space: so they can adapt how they use their voices in response. Unlike most open-air theatre companies (and with grateful thanks to CADW), we're fortunate to be able to rehearse almost entirely in the venue itself: this gives performers a valuable chance to learn their way around it, both metaphorically and literally! It also means we can use the actual fabric of the building as our stage space (instead of being limited to portable staging blocks), embedding Shakespeare's storytelling into a building which predates it by three centuries.
We hope you can join us one Summer's night this August, for a show which looks set to be full of fun, and tinged with rose-tinted nostalgia to match the Palace's beautiful Rose Window.