A Midsummer Nights Dream
In many communities around the world, a treasured summer activity is outdoor performances and festivals devoted to classic Shakespeare plays (Shakespeare Fellowship List). Two of the most well-known in Ohio are Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. which tours two shows in fourteen different parks and Actor’s Theatre which is celebrating it’s 30th season presenting shows in Schiller Park in Columbus’ German Village. Suddenly in the past few years there is much interest in this terrific tradition right here in the Miami Valley, ranging from a small neighborhood troupe near downtown (Historic South Park – currently rehearsing for their 4th presentation) and the touring company known as Free Shakespeare! the brainchild of director Chris Shea.
Shea, a graduate of Kettering-Fairmont High School, spent time studying acting in the Pacific Northwest. Inspired by the GreenStage Theatre Company’s offering of free outdoor Shakespeare, he decided to bring the concept to the Miami Valley in 2010 in the form of Free Shakespeare! The troupe is described as a traveling community of artists with the goal of creating an event where people can rediscover the power and beauty of language and art. Shea wanted to take the performances to multiple venues throughout the region over a series of summer weekends – and free to audiences.
Shea launched his vision for a theatre company in 2010 with Hamlet, which was received enthusiastically during it’s tour of four venues in Dayton and Yellow Springs. 2011 brings a new production, this time the ever-popular A Midsummer Night’s Dream. After opening last weekend at Antioch Amphitheatre in Yellow Springs, Shea and his team of 14 actors will continue to bring the bard’s best-loved comedy to Dayton stages over the next several weekends. They can be seen at the Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark (July 29-31), Newcom Founders Park in the Oregon District (August 5-7), The University of Dayton’s ArtStreet (August 12-14). All performances are outdoors and weather permitting and begin at 7PM. Admission is free with donations accepted after the performance to pay the actors.
The cast of A Midsummer Nights Dream includes Allison Husko (Titania), Chris Shea (Oberon), Will Hutcheson (Demetrius), Travis Cook (Lysander), Amy Brooks (Hermia), Megan Cooler (Helena), Kes-lina Luoma (Puck), Jason Antonick (Theseus), Lauren S. Deaton (Hippolyta), Zach Schute (Nick Bottom), Juliet Howard-Welch (Peter Quince & Peaselblossom), David Harewood (Francis Flute & Cobweb), Philip Titlebaum (Snug & Mustardseed), and, after a 48 year absence from the stage, Bill Styles as Egeus.
The group has recently partnered with Involvement Advocacy, an umbrella organization which fosters community initiatives. Involvement Advocacy’s partnerships include, among others, the Blue Sky Project and the Dayton Arts Project. Involvement Advocacy will act as Free Shakespeare’s! fiscal agent, allowing supporters of Free Shakespeare! to make tax deductible donations to the theatre company.
On the partnership, Free Shakespeare! founder Chris Shea had this to say, “We are very grateful to Peter Benkendorf and the folks at Involvement Advocacy for their tremendous support of our organization. This partnership is the perfect bridge for us as we make arrangements to form our own non profit corporation.”
“Our purposes shall be proud, our garments poor; For ’tis the mind that makes the body rich” The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, sc. iii
-SA, Free Shakespeare! Press Release & website.
-Photos by Alisha McDarris (copyright 2010) – submitted by Free Shakespeare!
Tickets & Performance Information:
Weekends through August 14, 2011
Tickets Prices: FREE (donations accepted after the show to pay actors)
Locations: Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark (July 29-31), Newcom Founders Park in the Oregon District (August 5-7), The University of Dayton’s ArtStreet (August 12-14)
For more information about Free Shakespeare! visit http://freeshakespeare.com/