Usually the lights go down then the show starts, but the American Shakespeare Center likes to do it with the lights on. ASC visited the UT Martin Harriet Fulton Theatre on Tuesday for two showings of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
ASC’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream wades into a bayou of masked hobgoblins, enchanting nymphs, and imps who sing the blues. Featuring the oblivious Bottom, plucky Helena, and mischievous Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream boasts some of Shakespeare’s most beloved and iconic characters.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Nathan Winkelstein (Red Bull Theatre, The Secret Theater), features whimsical costumes by Nicole Wee (Florida Studio Theatre, New York University, York Theatre Co).
Every year, ASC assembles a diverse and dazzling collection of artists from all over the country for their National Tour. The 2019/20 touring company features returning performers Topher Embrey (Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Virginia Shakespeare Festival), Madeline Calais (Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Classical Theatre Company), Andrew Tung (American Repertory Theatre, Lyric Stage Company, Central Square Theater), Chris Bellinger (Horn in the West, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre), and Kenn Hopkins, Jr. (Houston Shakespeare Festival, Olney Theatre). The ensemble welcomes Mia Wurgaft (Shakespeare in the Square), Andrea Bellamore (Aquila Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe), Alexis Baigue (Southwest Shakespeare Company, Salt Lake Acting Company), Sara Linares (Asolo Conservatory at Florida State University), and Sophia Beratta (Mary Baldwin University). These accomplished, young artists are poised to enthrall audiences all over the country with a fresh take on old classics.
“Fans nationwide will love what we’ve done with this play,” says director Nathan Winkelstein, “ASC on Tour gives us the incredible opportunity to present this beloved Shakespeare classic with our own supernatural New Orleans twist.”
Original music in this production, drawing inspiration from bluegrass to bebop to barbershop sets the scene of the magical bayou. ASC’s actor-musicians play live music before the show and during intermission, covering modern classics that riff on the themes of Shakespeare’s play.
The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA produces year-round in the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, the Blackfriars Playhouse. ASC’s productions are intimate in scale, yet epic in scope, utilizing Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions (universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music) to blend Shakespeare’s stagecraft with a modern sensibility. This engaging approach to the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is what led the UK Telegraph to call ASC “one of the most accomplished Shakespeare companies in the United States.”
The 2019/20 season marks ASC’s 31st annual tour since the company began in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express. In just over the past thirty years, the ASC National Tour has performed in 46 U.S. states, one U.S. territory, and five foreign countries. In 2018/19, the tour travelled over 15,000 miles, bringing the magic of the American Shakespeare Center to more than 16,000 patrons. As Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny puts it: “Touring is in our DNA.”
About the American Shakespeare Center
The American Shakespeare Center recovers the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. Year-round in Staunton’s Blackfriars Playhouse — the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre — the ASC’s innovative programming and “shamelessly entertaining” (The Washington Post) productions have shared the delights of Shakespeare, modern classics and new plays with millions over the past 30 years. Beyond the Playhouse, the ASC is a hub for Shakespeare education and scholarship and also tours from Texas to Maine each year with a repertory of three plays. Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the organization became the American Shakespeare Center in 2005 and can be found online at www.americanshakespearecenter.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. ASC programming is sponsored in part by the Ambrose Monell Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, the National Endowment for the Arts: ArtWorks and Shakespeare in American Communities in partnership with Arts MidWest; The Shubert Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the generosity of countless donors.