The Laguna Beach Playhouse performs A Midsummer Nights Dream with ease

The Laguna Beach Playhouse performs A Midsummer Night’s Dream with ease

On November 17, the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theater presented Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directed by Joe Alanes, the centuries-old comedy is adapted to the modern-day, where the characters wear street clothes instead of intricate costumes. In the story, four young lovers find themselves lost in a forest where the mischievous fairy Puck meddles with a love potion that makes two men, Lysander and Demetrius, fall in love with a girl named Helena; however, Lysander previously loved another named Hermia. As Helena and Hermia grapple with the potion’s effects, Puck’s intervention creates chaos and confusion.

Alanes takes a “less is more” approach to directing, preferring to focus on developing the actors’ skills and confidence. Using minimal stage props, the lightning, and onstage smoke convey setting, emotion, and magical elements. A Midsummer Night’s Dream periodically cuts between the fairy forest and a contemporary city, shown through shifts in lighting from dim, earthy tones to bright lights. When Puck realizes that they have given the potion to the wrong people, including the fairy Queen Titania, they magically compel everyone to sleep so they can undo their mistake, and changes in brightness indicate when the lovers are asleep. As the play involves many characters who all speak Shakespearean English, it can be challenging to understand what is happening. Still, the lighting cues effectively act as a guide for the plot. 

The modern twist to the play was another great addition. Shakespeare has remained relevant over the years thanks to his skill as a playwright and because of how adaptable his plays are for any period. As an audience, it is easier to relate to a modern story set in the United States than sixteenth-century Athens. While the characters wear jeans and t-shirts, the fairies’ brightly colored makeup keeps them elegant and whimsical.

“My makeup takes over an hour for every show,” Katie Baker, the actress who plays Queen Tatiana, states. “But it’s a great way to express my creativity.”   

All of the actors are incredibly talented and creative. Shakespeare may be hard to comprehend but even more challenging to memorize. Although most of the cast is young, a few adult actors mentor the kids and help improve their acting skills. Even the youngest actors, who can’t be more than ten, deliver their lines meaningfully.

“Once we deciphered Shakespeare’s writing, it made a lot of sense and was really funny,” said 10th-grade Sam O’Neill.

Mia Wright, the actress who played the leading role of Helena, describes her process of learning Shakespeare. “It was difficult for me to get out of the ‘memorization pattern’ and how to translate a phrase and turn it into something the audience could relate to. In my eyes, every actor should do Shakespeare because it is so beneficial in learning how to understand a character. 

“The last time the Laguna Playhouse put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream was over fifty years ago, a testament to the timelessness of Shakespeare’s plays. Unfortunately, there was only one weekend of shows this year, but it was evident how much time and dedication went into the production, resulting in a fantastic performance.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Olivia Lane, Opinions Editor

Comments (0)

All Brush and Palette Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *