A Midsummer Night's Dream: McCarter Theatre Center/Paper Mill Playhouse

By Erickson, T. Charles | American Theatre, May-June 2006 | Go to article overview

A Midsummer Night's Dream: McCarter Theatre Center/Paper Mill Playhouse


Erickson, T. Charles, American Theatre


Tina Landau, DIRECTOR: The two givens I started with were the play and the band. GrooveLily and Midsummer seem like kindred spirits to me, especially in terms of their tone: playful, sensual, yet also somehow irreverent, twisted, even dark at times. So I began to think of the band members themselves as the dreamers of the piece--and asked how Midsummer might sound, look, unfold, if it were filtered through the consciousness of these three musician/dreamers. In working with the designers as well as with GrooveLily, we tried to find a vernacular that was specific to each of the play's three disparate worlds--the court, the Mechanicals and the Fairies--and at the same time added up to a cohesive vision of one larger play-world. The guiding principle throughout remained that everything could appear and move and transition with the logic (or illogic) of a dream--so we tried to work with a kind of freedom and abandon and sublime irrationality.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Louisa Thompson, SCENIC DESIGNER: Tina and I knew that the set had to accommodate the band on stage, so that was a central consideration. GrooveLily starts out in a kind of rehearsal space--they're asleep, and as they begin to dream, elements that we see later in the show pass through their dreamscape. Then they're pulled through the Court wall and gradually brought deeper and deeper into the world of the play. We see them transformed into Mechanicals, then as part of the Fairy world. We loved the idea of a dark forest, with things appearing magically out of the darkness. There are all kinds of nature and weather effects--snow, rain, leaves falling, flowers blooming through the back wall--to show that the seasons are out of joint. Vertical space was an important design element for Tina--Titania's bower is an elevated island for some scenes, tended by the Fairies, whose bodies are painted a shiny silver gray so they appear and disappear as they recede into the shadows of the set. …

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