It’s never easy putting on a Shakespeare play, but the actors from Claremont’s year-long drama class are confident they’ve figured it out.
“You have to match what your body is doing, your actions, with what you’re saying,” said Grade 12 Tess Kotchonoski, who plays Hermia.
Kotchonoski, who played Sylvia Barrett in Claremont’s February performance of Up the Down Staircase, is one of many Claremont veterans returning to the stage for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The show runs Thursday to Saturday, and then Dec. 13 to 16, with a cast of 25 from Grades 9 to 12.
“You have to realize as an actor you will understand the line but the audience won’t know what you mean,” Kotchonoski.
And so, it’s a with a lot of energy, and a lot of fun, that the drama class presents a modern take on Shakespeare’s Midsummer.
The play is set in a children’s playground – complete with swings, cedar bark mulch and a slide – and is based on characters you would find in a school. The comedy has been adapted and edited for modern audiences while keeping the vast majority of Shakespeare’s script.
At the centre of the story are the Puck, played Celina Whitney, Helena and Demetrius, played by Daniel Gallant and Elysse Pereira, and Hermia.
Aside from Pereira, who makes her Claremont stage debut (but has studied acting throughout high school), the group has been in most of Claremont’s recent shows, including Cinderella and Up the Down Staircase in 2017, Crazy for You (2016) and Grease (2015).
At the forefront of the Midsummer fun is Claremont resident ham and budding stage presence Stephen Hao, who will play Nick. Midsummer also features Daniel Gallant as Demetrius. It’s the first of two shows the duo will perform in this month as Hao and Gallant are in Kaleidoscope’s Peter Pan, Dec. 28 to 30 at the McPherson Playhouse. In Peter Pan the two combine to play a split-version of Mr. Smee (Capt. Hook’s bumbling ship hand) created just for them. It’s a reprise from their comic roles as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from last year’s Kaleidoscope panto.
In Midsummer, Gallant plays Demetrius, whose love interest Helena isn’t convinced it’s her he’s after.
“[Shakespeare’s lines] can often seem wooden and rigid, it’s important to understand not just what the words literally mean, but what the motivation and intent is behind them,” Gallant said.
“And with that it naturally becomes much more lively. As lovers [Demetrius and Helena] are always in a passionate and excited state where there’s always so much potential for animation all the time.”
“We’re always looking for plays that provide educational opportunities,” said drama teacher Colin Plant, who’s directing the play. “It’s for all ages and we think everyone will love it.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs Dec. 7 to 9 and 13 to 16 nightly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 and can be purchased at the door. For more information contact Plant at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-658-6672.