The Dream is an up and coming theatrical experience produced by Eleanor Davies that aims to give a refreshing perspective with Punchdrunk influences, allowing one to be immersed into a world of electro-swing, dance, film art and exquisite performance. This production centers around the modern re-imagining of A Midsummer’s Night Dream set in Cellar Door. Audiences will be given the chance to roam around Club Athens’ with a drink in hand as they explore into the world of unknown as things aren’t always as they seem.
Not too long ago, we received the privilege to interview directors Sophie Dumount and Alex Palmer, to understand the thoughts they have behind this ambitious production.
Why did you pick Midsummer’s to do a re-imagining of?
We picked A Midsummer Night’s Dream because it is one of our favorite Shakespearean texts. We knew we wanted something immersive and the text lends itself so well to the ideas of dreams and fantasies, and the confusion of love – helped by the intoxication of the nightclub setting. We were fascinated with how the Shakespearean text translates to the modern day and we thought about what ‘the forest’ would transform to in our society. The nightclub setting lends itself perfectly to the confusion and dream-like quality that we were looking for. We both love the fact that we have been able to put our own stamp on the play, so that even if you are familiar with it, it will seem strangely different.
So what inspiration did you draw on in the creation of The Dream?
We have always been influenced and excited by the work of Punchdrunk, an immersive theatre company currently working in London and New York.
[Alex] Last summer, I was fortunate to gain an internship for the company working closely with the directors and production team on their show ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable’. I learnt a completely new way of working, and this can be seen in this production.
What is the most significant difference between this adaptation and the original production?
We have gotten rid of the stage! The whole of Cellar Door and the Revelry will be used from the toilets to the bar. Our actors have nowhere to hide, as all the action will be happening within and around the audience; many of the scenes will be played out within touching distance of the audience. For those watching, it will feel like a night out with a difference – like they are caught up in the happenings of the night.
That sounds exciting! So tell us more about the cast – were you looking out for anything in particular?
Another aspect to this performance is its attention to mirroring. In the text the lovers are mirrored, Puck and Quince are multi-rolled and the Kings and Queens are mirrored, so in the casting, aside from acting talent, we were looking aesthetically-wise for actors who would enhance this sense of doubling.
How much experience have you had with regards to directing?
[Alex] I have just finished directing a one-on-one performance of T.S.Eliot’s The Wasteland which saw my audience led through Exeter using a mobile phone and ending up in a house where in each room there was a different experience, from playing chess with a woman in all play, to a confessional speech by someone through a mirror. The Dream certainly has a lot of the qualities of this performance.
[Sophie] Apart from devising theatre pieces in a group setting, this is my first experience of directing and I am loving the challenge! As an English student it is an absolute pleasure to adapt and physicalize such an iconic text and we could not have a better cast to do the job! It’s fantastic to work with such a passionate group and collaboratively to revitalize and create a new backstory for each character.
What were some of the challenges you faced as regards to the script?
Well, because of the nature of the show, it is two and a half hours long. Therefore, every character needs that amount of time for their story. So for someone like Titania or Theseus who don’t feature a lot in the original play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we have had to create a backstory and further scenes. So the hardest part for us as directors has been the scenes that Shakespeare doesn’t give us, but we think that makes the show very interesting for an audience, particularly if you know the play well.
Could you relate to the characters in the play?
[Sophie] Initially no, however I think it is our aim as directors to make each character applicable to the emotions and social situations of today. This modernization of the characters’ journey and surrounds is what makes an interpretation of a classic intriguing. Out of all the characters in our version I think Peter Quince is perhaps the most endearing as an omnipotent narrator of the unraveling events of the night.
What have rehearsals been like and how has it been directing them?
Hectic, as you can imagine. Not only have we had to create these other stories for the characters that don’t feature as much, we have had to allow for each actor’s own interpretation of Bottom or Lysander, for example. We are working harder than ever now to ensure a stellar performance!
Tell us something that you would like your audience to keep in mind when they attend the play
Go your own way! If you come in a group, we strongly advise you to break off and explore the spaces on your own. All of the scenes happen simultaneously and you can’t see all of them, some of the scenes are for one audience per night! So don’t be bogged down in the group you have come with, make your own story. Luck favours the brave!
Featuring Dance, Circus, Big Band and Art Society, performances commences on the 12th of February 2014, tickets are on sale now.
Photos by: Katherine Stevens
words by Beverly Wee and Nichola Koh