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April 23, 2010
Vol. 51 No. 21

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Shakespeare's 'Dream' gets disco twist

Summer of love comes alive

Courtesy of Photo provided by Hilary Hutter
'Midsummer' goes modern-- Thirty-two students from the university's Department of Theatre perform a unique rendition of Shakespeares' "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The production is a disco-inspired interpretation of the play, written by theater faculty members Doug Powers and Karen Gilmer. Featured in this photo are Junior Brianna Roth and sophomore James Costello.
Courtesy of Photo provided by Hilary Hutter
Junior Theresa Beckhusen in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Courtesy of Photo provided by Hilary Hutter
Freshman Josh Millhouse and sophomore Amanda Robinson in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
This weekend, the university's Department of Theatre presents its spring production, a disco-inspired interpretation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The first show was Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Degenstein Theater, and daily shows will continue at that time through Sunday.

According to junior and cast member Melanie Harker, the disco-inspired interpretation of the play that was originally written in the 1590s came from collaboration between two theater faculty members: associate professor Doug Powers and assistant professor Karen Gilmer, who are artistic director and costume designer for the production, respectively.

"[Powers and Gilmer] definitely gave the play its own unique twist," freshman Matthew Cavender, who plays Lysander, a lead character said. "It's really fun. Not that Shakespeare isn't enough fun on its own."

Junior John Haussen-er, another lead character, Demetrius, said the modernized action and music "will definitely keep people engaged."

The play starts in the time period for which it was originally written, but then transfers to the 1970s after a dream sequence, Harker said.

Senior and production publicity coordinator Hilary Hutter said that once the transition to the world of the disco era happens, "The lights are insane and the shoes are fabulous."

While the time period portrayed in the production differs by centuries from the period in which it was written, the actors said main components of the play, like character interpretation and storyline, remained basically unchanged from the original story.

Harker said that one character was added to facilitate an introduction scene that helps "set the mood" for the disco-inspired production.

Cavender said: "That's the beauty of Shakes-peare. You can adapt it to apply to almost anything, but it still retains its aesthetic value."

"Obviously, with a change as dramatic as from Athens to the disco era, there will be some physical changes," he said, "but the dramatic feeling, the basic roots of the characters and their more surface feelings and emotions, those didn't change."

There are 32 cast members for this production, many of whom have been rehearsing since February 15. Rehearsals run for four to five hours a day, five days a week.

Haussener noted that the devotion to a production like this is an academic requirement for theater majors, as each must participate in eight productions--one credit per production--by the time they graduate.

"It's taxing," Haussener said, "but most of the time it's fun."

Cavender added that for theater performance majors, the devotion put into these productions is preparation for their future careers.

For Cavender, Lysander is his first serious role. He said he liked seeing a collegiate-level production carried out and appreciated the ability to learn from watching upperclassmen.

Plus, he said the time cast members spend with each other "is more of a bonding experience. It doesn't really feel like work."

Haussner agreed: "Our cast blends really well together and just complements each other."
Tickets are free for Susquehanna students, faculty and staff, $8 for students and $10 for adults. Tickets are available at the box office in the Degenstein Theater lobby or by calling (570) 372-ARTS.


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