A Midsummer Night’s Dream
November 6 – 22, 2014
By William Shakespeare
“The course of true love never did run smooth”
Love and illusion collide in Shakespeare’s most poetic and magical play. Ignited by misplaced passions and political maneuvering, two pairs of lovers become entangled. Hermia, Helena, Lysander and Demetrius find themselves at the mercy of powerful forces (and their own passions) during a hot, New York summer night. Set in the underground culture of Greenwich Village in the late 1970s – as punk rockers begin to usurp the flower-power children of the 1960s – Gebhard ‘s “Dream” is a fun edgy spin on Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy.
Open for individual show sales: October 28 – November 22, 2014
Director's Bio & Notes
Fran Gebhard has performed numerous roles in theatres across Canada. She also does regular performances of her one-woman show Looking For Kitty. For the Phoenix, Fran performed in Amigo’s Blue Guitar and Dark of the Moon. Fran gives workshops for Theatre BC members on a regular basis and has also adjudicated most zone festivals. In 2015 Fran will be the mainstage adjudicator for Theatre BC. She was the guest adjudicator for Theatre Saskatchewan’s regional festival.
Fran had a fourteen year association with the Banff Centre, serving as Program Head of the Playwrights’ Colony for much of that time and coordinator of the Screenwriters’ Workshop which she initiated with Charles Isreal. Her dramaturgical work continues with the Playwrights Theatre Centre. Fran has previously taught acting and directing at the University of Regina. For the Phoenix Theatre she has directed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, The Marowitz Hamlet (co-director with Charles Marowitz), Wreckage, The School for Scandal, and Crackpot. In the fall of 2014, she will be directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Direction of other productions include Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Affections of May, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again.
Fran has had a 30-year career acting for film and television. She was a regular cast member on the CBC series Nice Show and guest book reviewer for CBC Radio. She hosted her own program, for radio and then television, called Fran’s CULTure Showcase. Some of her other film and television credits include Blue City Slammers (for which she received a Genie nomination), The Chris Issak Show, Dead Zone, Taken and Case No.39 with Renée Zellweger.
When the fourth-year acting students suggested that we do a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I eagerly embraced the idea and offered to direct the play. It is one of my favourite Shakespeare’s. I, like many of you, am very familiar with the play. I have acted in a couple of productions and have seen the play many times. My challenge was to find a concept that would inspire the student actors, designers and assistant directors.
I looked to Hermia’s rebellious nature. She defies her parents and elopes with Lysander. This got me thinking of the 1970’s when second wave feminism was in full force. In 1977 The Canadian Human Rights Act was passed, prohibiting sexual discrimination and requiring equal pay for work of equal value. This time period seemed appropriate. In order to give Theseus the power to send Hermia to a nunnery for disobeying him, it seemed logical he would have to be her Father and Egeus, it follows, would be his ex-wife. I wanted to incorporate the “rustics” into Theseus’ world and having them renovate the solarium of his home for his wedding to Hippolyta made sense.
Setting the play in New York City occurred to me when I started to explore musical themes. Punk music was starting to invade NYC clubs such as CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. Punk represented youth culture and questioning authority. The punk movement seemed a good fit with Oberon and his gang. Oberon and Titania are fighting: she is holding on to their hippie lifestyle and music while Oberon is embracing rebellion. Not all of you will remember the musical diversity of the late seventies, but I certainly do! For those who don’t, we hope you enjoy this introduction. Similarly, Central Park seemed like a natural setting for the play. In the 70s, the 700-acre park was dangerous to some, exciting to others. Here is an environment where Titania and her coven, Oberon and his punk gang, and the lovers fleeing the tyranny of parental law could co-exist.
We’ve had a great deal of fun working on this production of The Dream and my hope is that you will enjoy the madness of lunatics and lovers.
The Marble Theatre Reveiw declares Gebard’s Dream is:
“the best play I’ve seen come out of the Phoenix in a decade .”
“…the choice to set the play in 1978 New York City amidst the contrasting bands of Oberon’s punks and Titania’s hippies was a conceit so beautiful that I refused to believe it could work. Until it did, over and over, until the applause was done.”
The Times Colonist says:
“Shakespeare in NY rocks!”
“an energetic, music-stuffed romp… smartly directed by Fran Gebhard….
“For beginners who are interested in experiencing Shakespeare but intimated by the language, this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a good, entertaining introduction.”
Local blogger Janis La Couvée says
“Boisterous, rambunctious and full of heart … A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a treat.”
Read more reviews as well as interviews with the director in the BackstagePASS Update.
Cast & Creative
Director Fran Gebhard
Set Designer Allan Stichbury
Costume Designer Dallas Ashby
Lighting Designers Clare Mathison & Imogen Wilson
Sound Designer Kieran MacNaughton
Stage Manager Claire Friedrich
Assistant Directors Alan Brodie & Rachel Millar
Assistant Set Designer Cearamarie Noreen Sajolan
Movement Consultant Jacques Lemay
Featuring (in alphabetical order):
Fahad Al Suwaidi Indian Prince
Alannah Bloch Egeus
Sarah Cashin Helena
Aidan Correia Oberon
Chloé Dufort Peaseblossom
Colin Doig Flute the Pipe Fitter
Sean Dyer Nick Bottom
Tyler Fowler Snout the Welder
Nicholas Guerreiro Starveling the Painter
Brett Hay Thorn
Bethany Heemskerk Cobweb
Jenson Kerr Lysander
Francis Melling Peter Quince
Amanda Millar Mustardseed
Logan Mitev Demetrius
Stefanie Mudry Moth
Arielle Permack Titania
Levi Schneider Puck
Markus Spodzieja Theseus
Laura-Jane Tresidder Hermia
Nikola Whitney-Griffiths Thistle
Matthew Wilkerson Spyder
Nicholas Yee Snug the Joiner
Zoë Wessler Hippolyta
Listen To Lecture
Missed the preshow lecture? Click below to listen online to faculty member and director Fran Gebhard in a lively conversation with fourth-year student and Costume Designer Dallas Ashby (and sometimes the audience members!) as they talk about recontextualizing Shakespeare’s most popular play into New York City in the late 1970s.