Shakespeare, dance beats collide in Midsummer play

Kaleidoscope Theatre plays A Midsummer Night's Dream, starting tonight

David Underhill plays the fairy king Oberon in Kaleidoscope Theatre’s rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

When forests and fairies collide with electronic beats, the effect is a dazzling show for young people.

So says Roderick Glanville, artistic director of Kaleidoscope Theatre, who put together a rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream he hopes will appeal to a youthful audience.

“It’s geared toward making Shakespeare accessible to all audiences and demystifying it – what is love; is it in the eyes or the heart?”

Love, a key theme in Shakespeare’s play, is relatable to young and old, Glanville said. But Kaleidoscope’s latest production adds a modern pop culture touch that blends the Elizabethan era with the information age: electronic music.

“I really enjoy the way the play’s going, especially the music,” said Michael Bell, the 16-year-old Parkland secondary student who plays Lysander in the production. “The whole feeling of the show it’s very electrifying and magical – and with the lovers, the love that’s going on, there’s a lot of realism. It’s very high-stakes and emotional.”

The soundtrack, mixed by Alexander Brendan Ferguson, absolutely taps into the new breed of pop music, Bell added.

“There’s a lot of similarities to what my friends listen to and what I do.”

Glanville said one of his favourite movies is Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo+Juliet, which also mixes Shakespeare with modern themes. “We’re trying to appeal to what young people would find progressive.”

Today’s young people “live in an electronic and video world. We find another way in to access their interest. I wanted to try something totally different. Something no other companies have done is presenting a full length of the play with a younger cast.”

Fourty-four actors between age nine and 18 from Kaleidoscope’s graduate program make up the cast – and much of the set. For example, when the characters Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius fall asleep, cast members depicting trees drape over them.

The most important part of the play is it makes Shakespeare applicable and interesting to a young audience, by doing away with the “stodgy vibe” that sometimes accompanies the playwright’s works.

“It’s a great production for all ages because it doesn’t have that feel of Shakespeare. A lot of kids my age get the idea Shakespeare is boring because of classroom studies, but it’s really quite relatable,” Bell said.

ecardone@vicnews.com

 

Midsummer in fall

• When: Nov. 25-26 and Dec. 2, 7 p.m. and Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

• Where: McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Sq.

•Tickets: $28.75 at rmts.bc.ca or 250-386-6121

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