UMass Lowell theatre gleams in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Students rehearse the upcoming production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Comley-Lane Theatre in Mahoney Hall. (Courtesy of Melina Leon)

This past April, the world celebrated William Shakespeare’s legacy for the 400th anniversary of his death. For centuries, his works have lived on as iconic models of literature for all genres, and this week UMass Lowell will join in the worldwide celebration.

From Nov. 2-6, the UMass Lowell Theatre Arts Program will present Shakespeare’s famous comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” With the help of guest director Jennie Israel, a founding member of the acclaimed Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Boston, UMass Lowell students are finding their places amongst the fairies and tricksters that make up the show’s characters.

“It’s a fantastic play to do with such a dynamic and multi-talented group of students,” said Israel.
Students said they love working with Israel. English major Melina Leon, who plays Peaseblossom, Snug and the lion in the show, said Israel is a great director. “She really lets us try our own thing with the characters, but also gives excellent suggestions to help us really get the character down,” said Leon. “She’s really funny, too!”

Israel’s humor and enthusiasm shine in her directing methods. During a rehearsal of the play, she regularly stood up, raising her hands in excitement and offering words of encouragement to the actors.

“Keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t be intimidated by him. Your character is spicy!” said Israel, encouraging one of the actors during the rehearsal.

Written in the 1590s, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” follows four star-crossed lovers in the midst of the ultimate love rectangle, as well as a group of amateur actors preparing to perform at the wedding of the Duke of Athens. Throughout their adventures, these two groups run into some fairies and even the duke himself. In the middle of a mythical enchanted forest in Athens, there is magic, love, deception, trickery and a whole lot of comedy.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, but a Shakespeare play would not be complete without its romantic elements. In addition to the comedic nature of the play, Shakespeare adds elements of romantic comedies where lovers intertwine and emotions run high.

While many of Shakespeare’s well-known plays such as “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet” are comprised of serious and often heartbreaking elements, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” contains just the opposite. The play showcases Shakespeare’s multifaceted talents with literary and theatrical elements, as well as his perceptive views of human nature.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will have performances from Nov. 2-6. All performances will be held at Mahoney Hall in the Comley-Lane Theatre on South Campus. Tickets can be purchased at the door for a cost of $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors, and it is recommended to reserve tickets online before the show. To do this, contact umlplaytix@gmail.com and leave your name, number of tickets and the show date.

Leon said she and the rest of the cast cannot wait until the show opens. “The cast is really excited, and the energy is really good,” she said. “I’m confident the shows will be really entertaining!”

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