The University Theater recently presented Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as its first major show since COVID-19 ceased in-person productions last semester. The show was open to the public October 14-24 at the Titmus Theater in Thompson Hall.
Joshua Reaves, the program director for University Theater, explained his reason for choosing to play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
“Midsummer” offers many opportunities for many students with a wide variety of abilities. … It’s an ensemble piece, there isn’t a main character here or there“Reaves said.” There are strong elements, but it’s a group effort. It’s fun, it’s light. A lot of students know the job. It’s a gateway show to Shakespeare. , and we read it in our program aloud during the pandemic. We had a lot of students for that.
This show also allowed many students to get involved.
“It’s a show that allows a lot of the students on the performance side to shine,” Reaves said. “But it also allows our technicians, our designers, our artists and our theater majors [to shine]. It’s a forest with fairies, you know, what amazing opportunities can we have with our costume store, with our stage store, with our lighting projections and our sound stores. It was a huge effort and a great way to say, “Alright everyone, let’s come back and do some theater.”
Reaves said the energy is similar to pre-pandemic semesters. The group is back to producing large-scale shows in light of COVID-19 guidelines, and theater fans are back in force.
This semester, the audience was primarily composed of students and staff from the State of North Carolina.
“This year we’re just doing two big productions, and it has everything to do with the resources, the ability to actually produce these shows, to also just remind us how to do it all again,” Reaves said. “We have learned a lot over the past year and a half and have expanded our offerings to include non-traditional products [theater events]. … Basically, make a wider variety of items.
Mia Self, Deputy Director of Acting and Directing at the University Theater, directed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and explained the rehearsal process. After the casting in early September, the students rehearsed for five weeks and spent hours practicing at a time.
“We did some reading to talk about who these people are, what is going on in the action of this play,” Self said. “All of the cast, by and large, have been coaching along the way, in addition to the time they spend in rehearsal, which is between three and four hours, five nights a week.”
When asked what was most exciting to be back in person, Self described the process of working collaboratively between directors and students.
“The fun thing about the making is taking everyone’s good ideas and connecting the dots, so I don’t have to think about all of that,” Self said. “I just need to provide a structure in which this can happen and be prepared to recognize all the great work that comes out of it.”
The University Theater is often the behind-the-scenes operator of events at the Stewart and Thompson Theaters. It also offers a minor in theater.
For more information on the University Theater, visit its website.