The lights dim, the music rises and the play begins. Boise State’s Theatre Arts Department ended their current season with one of the most popular playwrights of all time: William Shakespeare. The timeless Shakespearean classic, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was performed by the department as their chosen play for the spring semester, and brought a fresh perspective on the Renaissance period script to the stage of the Student Union Building’s Special Events Center (SPEC).
“We like to do Shakespeare at least once within a four-year time (frame),” said Gordon Reinhart, play director and professor of theatre arts. “So, it was time to do Shakespeare. Then the other thing we look at is the students that we have and what parts might be appropriate. And those two things came together, and that (play) seemed like a good choice.”
As the characters were cast and the crew was put together, the possibility of this play being performed became more of a reality.
“Many people were involved in making this show happen. We had a large crew to help build the set, do makeup and make the costumes by hand,” said Mia Raymes, who played the character of Hermia. “This play truly has a magical essence and will make it seem as if you are in a dream. We want to share this experience with our audience because theatre is a communal art.”
As the actors flowed throughout the stage in beautiful costumes, Shakespeare’s play was brought to life by the many talented Boise State students. The directorial choices made within the play gave a modern feel to a centuries-old story that modern day audiences could enjoy.
“No one wants to watch Shakespeare if they can’t understand it, so we have worked to ensure that our audience is given the text as it was written in a way that makes sense,” said Ab Jungen, who played the character of Helena.
Intricate details could be seen throughout the play in every bit of the spectacular settings, set props, believable period costumes and the emotion that the actors evoked through their characters.
“Anything you see or hear onstage, and many things you don’t, we have talked about and developed over a long design and rehearsal process. There is an incredible attention to detail,” Jungen said.
All of the actors that participated in this production had to fill the space of the SPEC with their voice, as the actors did not wear individual microphones. In true Shakespearean fashion, they were required to project their voice out towards the audience.
“It was challenging to make it so I was not just reciting the text, but showing clear intentions with my character,” Raymes said.
Raymes isn’t alone in her struggle to succeed with perfect acting in such a new take on a classic play. As with any production, the challenges that come with it can sometimes be overwhelming, but the payoff for overcoming them is greatly increased.
“Well, the main (challenge) was Shakespeare would have done it on a bare stage, in the daylight,” Reinhart said. “He would have created the atmosphere all with language. So it was hard to fight the urge to overproduce it and overdesign it because you wanted the language to still breathe a little bit on stage.”
The choices made to present this production to the community worked in everyone’s favor. This Shakespearean production was presented to the Boise State community in a way that made it easy to understand, and presented magic to its audiences.
“I think a story well told is bound to reveal something about what it means to be human, and I think Shakespeare does a really good job at that,” Reinhart said. “Our job is to try to reveal a very old play but that’s really the goal; to reveal what is (already) there.”
While “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is coming to an end on March 17, the Boise State Theatre Arts Department’s productions are not yet finished. The Theatre Majors Association’s spring showcase will be performed April 24-27 in the Danny Peterson Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night.