Fairies fawn over character Nick Bottom

This isn’t your traditional Shakespeare

Belmont production updates ancient comedy to the Summer of Love for a new spin on an old classic

If it’s true that all the world’s a stage and we are merely players, then students in Belmont secondary’s drama department are heading in the right direction.

For three nights next week the school’s Prometheus Players company is staging William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a comedy much lighter than some of the Bard’s other famous works.

“Nobody dies in this one,” jokes Grade 12 actor Alisa Lindley, who plays Helena, one of young Athenian lovers.

Lindley performed in the school’s previous production of Shakespeare, Macbeth and says Dream is a good play for newcomers to the genre to start out with.

It doesn’t hurt that the Belmont production is set during the “Summer of Love” in 1969, either, says fellow cast member and Grade 12 student Ai Horton, who plays Hermia, another Athenian involved in romantic hijinks.

“Having it not be in ancient Greece and be more modern makes it more approachable,” she says.

But don’t come expecting to hear “hey man” and “groovy” coming from the stage inside Belmont’s cozy drama room. The dialogue remains true to the original Old-English style the play was written in.

That might trip up many people – it’s like a foreign language all its own – but Grade 12 actor Quinn McKechnie, who plays the Athenian Lysander, says he hasn’t had much problem with it. And one shouldn’t forget that high school English classes are virtually all about Shakespeare.

“The language has a rhythm to it, so it’s a little easier to memorize,” McKechnie says. “And compared to Macbeth, this one is much lighter.”

Horton says Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first Shakespeare comedy she’s been exposed to, a scenario that has been a refreshing change.

During rehearsals, she has had a hard time not laughing at some points at the physical comedy. She figures that humour will transfer to the audience. “If we’re still laughing at a line after 30 times going over it,” she says, then others will, too.

The play’s director, Belmont drama teacher Melissa Young, echoes the statement that this production of Dream will offer people not familiar with Shakespeare a good introduction to his works.

“The acting is superb, and there’s lots of songs and dance – it’s a lot of fun,” she says.

Performances run at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, 22 and 23 in the Belmont drama room, near the north end of the school. Admission is by donation and seating is limited. Arriving half an hour before showtime is recommended to ensure you get a seat.

More information can be found at prometheusplayers.com and at Belmont Prometheus Players on Facebook.


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