Theater & Arts

A spooky, ‘Twilight’ vibe for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Kelsey Deroian as “Hippolyte” at a dress rehearsal of Fresno State’s new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Kelsey Deroian as “Hippolyte” at a dress rehearsal of Fresno State’s new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” sflores@fresnobee.com

For a director, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” offers an opportunity to create a whole world.

Talk about fun.

The world in question is the enchanted forest, or land of the fairies, in which Shakespeare’s noble lovers find themselves on a peculiar evening in this popular Shakespeare play.

When Fresno State theater professor Kathleen McKinley realized she would be opening “Midsummer” over Halloween weekend, she naturally took that concept and ran with it. Here’s a rundown:

The inspiration: Think “Twilight,” with Oberon and Titania as the king and queen vampires. The various fairies, including Puck, are the vampire “fan base,” as McKinley calls it, wildly enthralled with the king and queen. The costumes and mannerisms of the members of this dark and seductive place are stylish and sexual. (Let’s just say there’s some biting involved.) “You’re not going to find Tinkerbell,” the director says.

The rationale: In Shakespeare’s time, fairies weren’t considered cute, McKinley notes. There was an edge of danger to them and the world they inhabited. She sees “Twilight,” and its popular lore of immortal vampires who are eager – perhaps even jealous – to have mortal experiences, as an interesting way to draw a contemporary connection to the material. The fairies enjoy toying with and manipulating the mortals traveling through their territory, but they also want to care about them “and fix things for good.”

Think ‘Twilight,’ with Oberon and Titania as the king and queen vampires.

The aesthetic: For the “authentic” real world, the setting and era is timeless. For the fairies, think in terms of amalgamation: These creatures have stolen various items from people passing through their realm for centuries, wearing their favorites, so a span of eras is represented.

The Mechanicals: Don’t forget about Shakespeare’s other travelers in the play, who provide most of the laughs in the piece. The Rude Mechanicals, a group of amateur actors who also get lost in the enchanted forest and are tormented by the ghoulish fairies, are inspired by iconic college faculty types, McKinley says. “So I am poking a little fun at myself and my ego-driven, though earnestly sincere, colleagues!” We’ll see how that goes over in the next faculty meeting.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Theater preview

  • 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 31, and Nov. 3-7; 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1
  • Fresno State Woods Theatre
  • www.fresnostate.edu/theatrearts, 559-278-2216
  • $17, $15 seniors, $10 students
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