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“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – preproduction note #1

Michelle Phieffer in the film version of "Midsummer"

One of the things I am going to be doing on this blog is chronicling the evolution of our first play at KELT Atyrau, something that is going to be especially interesting because we are attempting to mount a production of a Shakespeare play.  This is no easy task for any theater company, let alone a theater group made up primarily of non-native English speakers who have never been in a play (which is true for many of our KELT Atyrau folks).

For the past couple of weeks, since deciding to attempt this play, I have been pouring over Shakespeare’s amazing script, studying the difficult language, figuring out what Shakespeare seemed to have been saying in this work.  This is not easy considering that the English language of Shakespeare’s day was so different than 21st Century English.

I’ve also been editing heavily.  Audiences in Shakespeare’s day didn’t mind a lot of repition, and Shakespeare used quite a bit of it.  Understanding that modern audiences (especially the ESOL variety) aren’t going to need or even want all the repitition, much of it has had to go.  This has been the picky part for me – just as a surgeon needs to be sure that he doesn’t cut into the wrong part of the body for fear of harming the patient, I don’t want to accidentally cut out something that will cause another part of the play to fall apart.

Oberon and Titania, a U.S. production, courtesy blog.cleveland.com

I’ve also started working on a modern language “translation” of the play.  I am not certain at this point if I will use that version as our actual script, or if I will just complete the project for the sake of the cast – so that they can better understand what they are supposed to be saying.  I don’t want to be hunted down by some Shakespeare purist, but we might have to go that route.

Anyway, it’s an exciting process, and I look forward to getting the rehearsals off the ground!


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