- A Midsummer Night's Dream, and: Othello
Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream are two ends of the spectrum for both tone and dramatic outcome, and Flatwater Shakespeare's 2011 productions of these plays in two very different playing spaces emphasized their differences. Because of renovations to their home theatre space (the Swan Theatre), Flatwater Shakespeare presented A Midsummer Night's Dream outdoors in the Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, and Othello in the Family Theatre of the Lincoln Community Playhouse. The garden is an intimate portion of a city block filled with trees, leafy plantings in raised beds, small pools, and paved areas. The stage in the Lincoln Community Playhouse was dark and rather cavernous, particularly in comparison to the garden. These productions emphasized the elements of the plays that matched best with the locations.
The Flatwater production of MND emphasized many of the symmetries in the play. The seating areas were organized with an alley stage space and seating on either side, allowing one half of the audience to look at the other. This arrangement mimics the stage space in the home theatre (a semi-outdoor alley stage space), and it was put to good use. Entrances and exits were smoothly executed, and despite not having a clear off-stage the actors made long entrances and the surrounding trees work to their advantage. At one end of the alley (upstage), a round burlap-covered riser served as a raised area for the fairies to coddle Bottom and a central point around which the lovers slept. At the downstage end, the steps up to the next portion of the garden provided a slightly raised sleeping area for Titania and were the backdrop for the seated on-stage audience for the mechanicals' Pyramus and Thisbe. Since it was an evening performance in the summer, natural light sufficed for the action until the intermission; free-standing lighting provided the light for the remainder of the performance. This shift meant that the first events in the woods happened in the fading evening light, and that the play at the end had bright lighting that made apparent the nervousness of the actors in Pyramus and Thisbe. [End Page 182]
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In the now nearly-standard doubling, Catherine Coffey played Hippolyta and Titania and Darin Hemmer played Theseus and Oberon. In the opening scene, Hippolyta snarled her lines at Theseus, who seemed unlikely to continue his physical domination of her; the scene did however set up the later dispute between the fairy king and queen. The addition of Puck's henchmen made more equal the numbers of fairy attendants for Oberon and Titania. The young couples, while not alike in appearance, were similar in type. Both young men had a youthful, rumpled...