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Image of Making Shakespeare Accessible

The one thing I hate about the summer is the homework. This year, we had to go to a play for extra credit written by some guy named William Shakespeare (I know, harsh, right?). He is supposed to be a famous guy from the 1600s, but all I knew was that he was British (plus) but wrote love stories (minus). We then had to write a paragraph about what we liked and did not like about the play. Also, we had to write about the characters in the play. It sounded pretty boring to me, but that is not how it turned out. I realized that he was a talented playwright and poet. (Though his language was weird after all, it was 500 years ago).

shakespeare midsmummer nights dreamAnd so begins my extra credit assignment…

We went to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The company performing it was called Theatre Hikes. They had a weird concept of putting different stages throughout the park. Who would exercise during a play? To hike around a park to see a play is just inconvenient. Nevertheless, I tried it.

None of us were excited to go see the play. That day, my mom had been on nonstop calls with Sprint and the company kept hanging up on her. I was not very thrilled to go either. We picked up my friend to go, but he was not happy going. My mom’s boyfriend did not even like Shakespeare. When we sat down, that changed for all of us. I saw ordinary people dressed up in togas and saying memorized lines in Shakespeare. This took place at the lake. In the background, the waves beat against the beach, and the park stretched around you.

A Bit about the Story

The play started as a woman named Hermia secretly loved a good man named Lysander, even though she was supposed to marry the man who loved her, Demetrious. Another woman named Helena loved Demetrious, but he hated her (very complicated). There was also a group of Athenians who wanted to perform a play for the Dutch and Duchess at the temple. There was the man who played Pyramus. His name was Nick Bottom, a weaver, a funny, but sometimes rude man. Bottom was my favorite character in the play. After a nice walk along the lake, we came to our second stage. The second stage brought in the fairy land of Athens, where everybody was fairies, but they could not be seen by humans. There was the fairy king (Oberon) and queen (Titania), who both hated each other. The king wanted to do something wicked to the queen.

Shakespeare theatre hikesThe king had a flower from Cupid, which would make him able to have a person fall in love with a stranger. He decided to use it on the queen and also had his messenger, Puck, uses the flower on Demetrious. It goes terribly wrong and Puck accidentally uses it on Lysander. He wakes up, sees, and immediately loves Helena. He realizes he put the flower on the wrong person, and puts it on Demetrious, who then also loves Helena. The king realized that his servant failed, and has him fix it. Meanwhile, the lovers are all fighting each other. Thankfully, Puck makes it right by having them all believe it was a dream. Puck used the flower on Demetrious, so he now loves Helena.

The other part of the flower was used on the fairy queen. When the play group was rehearsing, Puck saw Bottom being his annoying self, and decided to put an ass’ head over Shakespeare a midsummer nights dreamhim. The queen then awoke and fell in love with Puck. The queen gave him incredible treatment, even though he looked awful. Puck and Oberon fixed the spell so the queen thought it was all a dream and Bottom was turned to a normal human again. The Athenians performed their hilarious play, and then after the play, Puck said “If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumber here, while these visions did appear.

Making Shakespeare Accessible:

Instead of just sitting in the theater, I traveled around a nice park, and felt the breeze from the lake as you walked from stage to stage. You could see people looking oddly at you when they saw the actors, and then started tagging along. Every stage fitted the next scene perfectly; you could feel it was meant to take place there. The sun set slowly and once it did, lights seemed to come out of nowhere and shined on the actors. Their costumes suddenly lit up and showed colors all around.

The actors interacted with you and even carried on a conversation with you. I remember one time my friend and I were walking and from out of nowhere, a fairy walked alongside me. She asked whether we danced. I responded no, but my friend and I teased each other by saying the other one loved dancing. She asked whether we liked hula or slow dance or conga. I kept on teasing my friend and said that he loved them. Another fairy walked by and asked if she had found anyone who would dance; the other fairy remarked: “oh, I have two gentlemen right here that love dancing.” They acted so excited when told they had found recruits. They did not talk to us until the next scene. They asked for volunteers, and one of them (Mustard seed), said “William and Andrew, come on.” After hesitating a lot, I finally went to the “stage.” They had us go in a circle, and we danced forward and back until the queen was asleep.

The play made it very accessible by showing you what happened. They would do gestures and you could understand what was going on. It still was Shakespeare but with a funny, modern twist. Even the costumes you could still fell like it was in Shakespeare’s time. It was so good. I remember after the play getting into the car and, all of a sudden, found myself talking to my friend about the play. He says his favorite character was Bottom, and I said my favorite character was also Bottom.  He asked me my favorite scene and I said it was scene 6, the scene with the play, because it was so funny. It was also his favorite part. He said that he loved Oberon’s costume and thought it looked really cool. As we went on and on talking, it occurred to me that there was nothing but the play being discussed.

It ended up being a pretty fun homework assignment (although, I haven’t really finished it yet). I got to walk around the beautiful lake and see a really well-done play. I learned how to understand the 1600s language. I would say that I liked the play and, believe me, that it was better than sitting in a theater and seeing Romeo and Juliet.

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