Saturday, October 7, 2006

"Our Play Is Preferred!"

Tomorrow we go into "Tech Week" for "A Midsummer Night's Dream." We've been rehearsing for six weeks, and the show opens Thursday and closes Sunday. In all, it will have been a seven week process. Seven weeks used to seem like an extremely long time to be committed to a project that would only last a weekend. Then it took me a year and half to make The Oath of Desormeau, which was based on a play Kristina and I wrote nearly four years ago. Granted, that will last a lot longer than a weekend, but still...Seven weeks is nothing.

I actually decided to set our "Midsummer" in the early 1800s -the same time period as The Oath of Desormeau. This wasn't just because I like that time period, which I obviously do, but because I thought it was consistent with the play's themes of conquest. At the beginning of the play, Theseus and his Greeks, conquer Hippolyta and her Amazons. From then on, we see Oberon trying to wrest the Indian boy from Titania. Helena is obsessively pursing Demetrius who is (I believe out of cultural duty) trying to conquer Hermia.

So, I thought we should set it at a time when the British had breached India, and Napoleon had ventured into Egypt. Also, there was an infatuation with Greek culture during this "Neoclassical Period", which I thought would be consistent with the character's use of heightened language and the "Rude Mechanicals" decision to produce and perform "The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramis and Thisbe" for "the Duke and the Duchess on their wedding night." My goal was to make decisions based on what would make the story clear and specific. I suppose I could have just set it in ancient Greece, but, much to the annoyance of my college Theatre History Professor, I'm not a fan of the period.

I will say this though: Be it a year and a half or seven weeks, it is difficult to maintain objectivity about what is funny. I certainly hope this play still is and will be.

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