The warmer days of the year might not be upon us just yet, but dozens of students at Walla Walla University have found that the best way to celebrate spring and the soon-coming months has been with the help of William Shakespeare, particularly the bard's most beloved summer comedy, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which will be performed in Village Hall at WWU starting 9 p.m. Saturday.
The student-run production tells the centurys-old tale of fairies and tricksters, lovers, lords and ladies with a much more modern, even futuristic, twist. Director Shane Wood, a senior psychology major, made the interesting decision to set "A Midsummer Night's Dream," in the post-apocalyptic future, where the human race has been nearly obliterated by nuclear war. The unique setting results in a group of characters who live in a devastated world but "still find time for love and adventure." Wood also explained that placing the traditionally comedic characters in such a war-torn setting shows "genuine human experience in the midst of tragedy in a very unique way."
Despite the somber setting, which includes a massive stage designed by college students to resemble crumbling buildings and the ruins of a formerly peaceful world, the Shakespearean story of love and magic still finds plenty of time to make the audience laugh.
Jonathan Palmer plays Quince, one of the six mechanicals who stage the classic Shakespearean play-within-a-play, which is, in this case, the amusing story of Pyramus, Thisbe and the wall, played by Tom Snout, that separates their unquenchable love.
"My part is a lot of fun," Palmer said, "I usually have to tone it down, because of the humor provided by other characters on stage, but there are a few times when I get to let loose and give the audience something to laugh about."
Palmer explained that it's not only a play of big laughs on a big stage, but it is also one of the largest crews the WWU student drama troupe has ever had.
"There are over 20 students just in make up and hair," Palmer shared, "It's kind of awesome to see a student run production so big and run so efficiently."
Having a crew of over 50 people could have proven difficult to manage, yet Wood expressed how much fun it has been to work with so many enthusiastic students.
"I had people telling me that Shakespeare was too hard and that we should pick something easier, but stubbornness prevailed, and the students pulled through."
Those students who were scurrying around Village Hall before a dress rehearsal on Tuesday evening were excited about putting on a good show for people and hopefully providing plenty of humor despite the play's darker themes.
"Shakespeare meant for this to be a comedy," producer Jerry Entze said in a press release, "and we're not changing that element. If you don't leave the show with a smile on your face, we haven't done our job."