A Midsummer Night’s Dream

(Originally published in Boston Magazine, in support of Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s dream to bring free outdoor Shakspeare to Boston.)

Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about a royal wedding, lovers lost in an enchanted forest, magic spells, and fairy sprites. But mostly it is about imagination. In the course of the play, as the characters move in and out of the world of dreams, certain words repeat over and over again:

Fancy.  Imagination.  Dream.
Vision.  Transported.
Transfigured. Transformed.

It seemed to me that everyone who watched the play performed for free this summer, outdoors in Copley Square — against the spectacular  backdrop of  Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, and the neo-classical urns on the top of the building across the street on Boylston, silhouetted against the darkening sky — felt transfigured, transformed, transported  by the Dream.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company made a dramatic entrance on the local theater scene this summer with its dreamy production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Director Steven Maler brought the play to life with a  minimum of props, a simple stage, lots of imagination, a little help from many friends, and a talented, multi-racial cast. Especially fine were Faran Tahir and Siobhan Brown. Arching their backs, extending their arms, and fluttering their hands in lyrical curves, they were majestic and magical in double roles: Athenian king Theseus and his conquered bride Hippolyta, and Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies. Many scenes included improvisational dances, graceful gestures, and extravagent body language, which emphasized the underlying musicality of the play’s extraordinary poetry.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a very auspicious beginning for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s dream of outdoor Shakespeare every summer in Boston. At the end of the play, Theseus declaims:

“And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and give to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

by Rebecca Nemser for rebeccanemser.com

(In 1996, A Midsummer Night’s Dream won an Eliot Norton Prize, and every since then, with the help of many friends, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company has staged a free outdoors Shakespeare play in Boston.)

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