IN THE PARKING LOT ADAPTS
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a tale of love and enchantment that is simultaneously set in the woodland and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon. The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, ever fond of holding a mirror up to its own neighborhood, is adapting the story into a fable of the Lower East Side in the first production of its 2016 season, July 7 to 23, directed by Kathy Curtiss.
While the play is a first-rate comedy, full of Shakepeare’s accidents and mistaken identities, Curtiss also sees Shakespeare’s “Dream” as a journey into the mysteries of the subsconscious mind, richly symbolic of the process of how we recognize who we are and whom we love. To reveal this in modern terms, she employs the "heightened" class system of the Lower East Side/East Village--stereotypes of some of the populations abounding there--to represent in modern terms the groups of characters in the play. The "Royals" (Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate and Egius) are roaming musicians, artists and people who dress in extremes. They can exert magical power over our impulses and are fashioned as "taggers" who create visions and play tricks with their powers of illusion. The "Lovers" (Lysander, Demetrius, Helena and Hermia) are upscale urban dwellers whose money and power have not brought them love. The "Co-Workers" (Bottom, Quince, Smug, Stout, Starveling and Flute) are Google employees, indulging their passion for creativity. The forest to which they all escape--for privacy, to inspire creativity, or to escape their parents--is the late night scene of the Lower East Side/East Village, with all its mysteries and where nobody can be in control for very long.
At the start of the play, a three day "Midsummer Madness" soltice celebration ends in the marriage of two rock-god celebrities (Theseus and Hippolyta). The Lovers (Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius and Helena) and a group of co-workers for Google (the Mechanicals) get lost in the night as the party scene becomes increasingly more dangerous. Supernatural "fairies" join the madness, playing devious tricks on the mortals. The street "madness" becomes a parallel to Shakespeare's mythical deep forest, where everyone gains insight from a mad dream. Curtiss holds that the forest represents the deep subconscious where we know ourselves better than we do in our conscious day to day life. It is where we are able to discover our own hearts.
As the lovers and Mechanicals are chased through the streets, dance breaks identify for you which neighborhoods they are in. Choreography is by Jamila Gordon and Taliek Hill. Contemporary sound design is by Sarah Biesinger Re. Theseus, Bottom, and Oberon/Titania have verse "songs" in the play; ensemble members are updating them to rock ballads that fit the verse.
The actors are Warren Jackson as Oberon, Serena Miller as Titania, Drew Vallins as Puck, Jordan Feltner as Bottom, Zander Meisner as Theseus, Zoe Anastassiou as Hippolyta, Israel Hillary as Philostrate and Michael Bernstein as Egeus. The Amazons/Theseus' Guard are played by Jessica Kreuger, Shelby Wong, Stephanie Spector, Andrew Bryce, Israel Hillary and Javan Zapata. The lovers are played by Eddie Shields as Lysander, Brad Frost as Demetrius, Kathleen Simmonds as Helena and Mary Linehan as Hermia. The Mechanicals are played by Jordan Feltner, Jarrod Bates, Javan Zapata, Andrew Bryce, TJ Wagner and Dallin Halls. Jessica Kreuger plays Oberon's First Faerie. Titania's faeries are played by Shelby Wong, Stephanie Spector, Michaela Lind, Catherina Nonis and Kristiana Jarquin Moreland.
Director Kathy Curtiss has staged six productions to-date for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. She has also directed for the Michael CheckhovTheatre Company, Oberon Theatre, Drilling Company, NY International Fringe festival and Scandinavian American Theatre Company. She is also a fight choreographer. She chairs the Film/Video Division of Five Towns College and has taught at University of California, University of Utah, Ball State and NY Film Academy, among others. Her film documentaries have appeared on PBS and the Global Education Network. She holds a Masters from University of California Santa Barbara, emphasizing the study of Shakespeare text, and a PhD in Directing from Brigham Young.