PANAMA CITY — Audiences will enter a dream world during the next two weekends, a dream almost past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
The Division of Visual and Performing Arts at Gulf Coast State College presents Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this weekend and next in the Amelia Center Theatre. Advance tickets ($10) are available at BrownPaperTickets.com. This performance is recommended for mature audiences.
Director and associate professor Jason Hedden calls it a “gateway” play; if you never have seen Shakespeare, this is a pretty accessible comedy to start with.
“It’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. There’s been countless film versions,” he said. “I think there’s something that attracts people to the show. There’s forbidden love. There’s a magical world of fairies. It’s open to so many interpretations. It’s also sort of meta-theatrical with the play-within-a-play.”
As an additional level to the entertainment, local flute-maker and musician Paul McAuliffe will be on stage, providing background music and accompanying the various songs presented within the play.
Hedden’s interpretation features modern dress on the actors, and a less traditional portrayal of the fairies. There are also recent pop-cultural references inserted into the action. Duke Theseus, for instance, is presented as a political candidate, and the curtain rises on a political rally.
“We’re in modern dress for the human world,” Hedden said. “The play is sort of influenced on Greek mythology, so even Shakespeare was doing it in ‘modern’ dress. There will be some familiar images for people. … For the fairies, we went with more of a sort of native tribal influence. … Titania is sort of an earth mother, sort of African queen.”
Titania, the queen of the fairies, is portrayed by 20-year-old Destinee Steele, a GCSC student in her first play.
“She runs the whole fairy world,” Steele said, explaining why she likes the character. “I connect with her because she’s kind of sassy, kind of demanding. She’s too cool to be bothered. I like that about her.”
GCSC student Jennifer Fuller, 20, takes the role of Robin Goodfellow, or “Puck.” She has been involved in previous plays behind the scenes, but this is only her second time on stage.
“It’s exciting. It’s very different,” she said. “Puck is a trouble maker. He/she just loves to mess around with humans. … Finding them in his forest is like, oh my god yes!”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9-10, 16-17; 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11 and 18
- Where: The Amelia Center Theatre at Gulf Coast State College, 5230 W. U.S. 98 in Panama City
- Tickets: $10 general admission; GCSC faculty, staff and students admitted free with valid ID
- Details: GulfCoast.edu/arts or call 872-3886