Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alpha Psi Omega puts on Shakespearean play

By Alison Haywood, A&E Reporter

After losing the rights to the play “Middletown,” the Pacific Lutheran chapter of Alpha Psi Omega will put on"Midsummer Night's Dream," the first Shakespeare play to hit the Eastvold Main Stage in almost six years.

The performances are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7-10 and 2 p.m. Dec. 11.

Theatre major and APO member senior Jordan Beck selected and will direct the play.

“At its base, this is a story about the transforming power of love,” Beck said.

Artistic Director of Theatre Jeffrey Clapp said the Theatre program faculty approved “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for multiple reasons.

Clapp said “Midsummer” fits the School of Arts and Communication’s theme of love and compassion this season and that it compliments the Theatre program's fall Shakespeare class.

This semester’s acting Shakespeare class, taught by Professor of Theatre Brian Desmond, has focused on Shakespeare from the theatrical rather than the literary perspective. Desmond said “Midsummer” will give his students an opportunity to put in to practice what they learned in his class.

Desmond directed Twelfth Night, the last Shakespeare play performed at PLU, in spring 2006.

Desmond said he teaches Shakespeare not just to make his theater students more employable, but because Shakespeare forces actors to stretch themselves.

“What we learn in acting Shakespeare helps us as actors immeasurably because it teaches us how to convey powerful characters, powerful emotions, through the language we are given,” Desmond said. “Great roles, great plays by playwrights like Shakespeare help us grow.”

Samuel French, Inc. denied the Theatre program's rights to the play “Middletown” in June due to outstanding debt from previous productions, but said that the rights were available at the time.

When the debt was resolved and the Theatre program applied again, however, they were told that the rights were unavailable because the playwright, Will Eno, had reworked the play.

Clapp said he viewed this, ultimately, as a positive thing because there will be more people involved, people will recognize the play and there are opportunities to include the English department.

“It’s going to be positive for the community,” Clapp said. “It’s going to be better than a Northwest premiere of a play that nobody’s ever heard of.”

First-year Catherine Graham, who studied Shakespeare in her Writing 101 class, said she loved previous productions and was thrilled when she found out APO would be performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“I have never been able to understand his [Shakespeare’s] plays so well as when I see them performed,” Graham said.

Senior Emily Anderson said she is interested in how Beck will interpret the play because of the overproduction of “A Midsummer Night’s Dreams.”

Beck described his interpretation of this Shakespearean classic as expressionistic, whimsical and modern. It will not be set in any particular time period, and the technology will be “vaguely anachronistic.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will hit the Eastvold main stage Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

“When we come in as first years, they say every other year—it’ll be a musical one year and a Shakespeare the next,” Beck said. “And we’ve done three musicals in my three and one-quarter years here. It’s about darn time we did a Shakespeare.”