Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Play's Possibilities Provide Fertile Ground for This Weekend's Performance

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Play's Possibilities Provide Fertile Ground for This Weekend's Performance

Article excerpt

Donkeys, fairies, love and magic unite for one moonlit night in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," to be performed by The Actor's Charitable Theatre the weekend.

The ACT generally performs musicals, but decided to bring Shakespeare to the Bama Theatre, led by guest director Matthew H. von Redlich. He helped choose the play, which he has directed a few times before, including a 2014 performance at the Bama by Tuscaloosa Academy, where he formerly taught. It has been an enjoyable process each time, he said, because of the endless possibilities Shakespeare provides.

"This is a really great play," von Redlich said. "It's so malleable, full of possibilities of where you set it. ... So we're not stuck in Elizabethan England or ancient Athens."

"Midsummer," one of the most often performed of Shakespeare's works, includes four intertwining story lines, centered on a royal wedding, mischievous fairies, young lovers and a fledgling acting troupe. For this production, von Redlich encouraged his cast to continually bring ideas to the rehearsals.

"The actors have really been attentive," he said. "And every night, bringing in new things to try. The great thing about Shakespeare is that it's not stuck in a template, and we can recreate it every time we do a production."

Though she is relatively new to Tuscaloosa - this will be her second show with the ACT - Mary B. Prondzinski is not new to theater. She plays Titania, queen of the fairies, and grew up watching the 1935 filmed version of the play, always admiring the beauty of the character. But Prondzinski decided to make changes, including adding a song at the end of the play.

"Titania in the movie was much sweeter," Prondzinski said. "And I am not going that direction. Thanks to my director, I'm more combative, and not so willing to acquiesce to Oberon and his demands."

Oberon, king of the fairies, is played by Glen Johnson, who has nearly 30 years of stage experience. This is his first show with the ACT, but he has previously performed with Theatre Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre, and Improbable Fictions, where he has performed staged readings of Shakespeare. …

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