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East Ridge High School's production of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" opens May 2 at the Loft Stage.

East Ridge's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" opens May 2

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An important part of East Ridge High Schooltheater is education, so what better way to educate students than through the epitome of classical theater - William Shakespeare.

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East Ridge will be performing Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" May 2-4.

"It's so important to explore the language, and his plays are so rich with subtext, - it stretches students," said East Ridge play director Amanda Hestwood. "There's very few other types of theater that can stretch them in the same way."

Hestwood will be co-directing the play with Marcie Berglund.

"It was an opportunity for the kids to get all the attention they need to be successful," Hestwood said. "Marcie's working with them from the outside in and I'm working with the actors from the inside out."

"I'm the big picture person," Berglund said, "(Hestwood) is the detail person."

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a comedic play that portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta.

The main plot is split up into three different parts - the adventures of four young Athenian lovers, a group of six amateur actors and the magical fairies that inhabit the forest.

"It really is all about romance and love and magic and playing with love," Berglund said.

Hestwood said she and Berglund chose "A Midsummer Night's Dream" because it's a very accessible play for students.

"They're very connected to the ideas of the craziness of the love and unrequited love," Hestwood said. "This play has a very youthful feel to it."

Like any time you do a Shakespeare play, Hestwood said, the first thing you have to tackle is the language since iambic pentameter isn't something that everyone can easily pick up.

"In Shakespeare, everything down to the commas is so important and so rich in communicating the ideas," she said. "The students really have to ingrain themselves in what they're saying and how it's advancing the plot."

East Ridge junior Naomi Ridley, who will be Hermia, one of the lovers, said the play has given her a better insight into Shakespeare.

"Once you get to the performing part of it," she said, "you start to understand Shakespeare's mind more."

Even though "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written in the 16th Century, East Ridge is putting its own spin on the play by setting it during the 1960s.

"The great thing about Shakespeare is that you can set his plays in so many different ways," Hestwood said. "It's the themes and the language that are important. The setting is just creating the artistry of the piece."

Berglund and Hestwood said they decided to set the play in the 1960s because the central themes, love and power, fit well with the motto of the 1960s - "Make love, not war."

"There's so many parallels to the 1960s," Hestwood said.

The 1960s setting will be incorporated through costuming, music and sets, but also through characterizations.

The fairies in the play will resemble the hippies of the 1960s, the performance troupe will resemble the beatniks and the Athenians will be more of the straight-laced "Mad Men" type characters, Hestwood said.

Both Berglund and Hestwood said audiences can expect a lot of laughs at "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"It's really, really funny," Hestwood said. "It's such a reality of high school and the fickleness of love."

East Ridge High School's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will run May 2-4 at 7 p.m. at the Loft Stage. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults at the door. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.theloftstage.com for $1 off.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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