Feature: Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival modernizes a classic

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Feature: Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival modernizes a classic


"Let the audience look to their eyes, I will move storms."


The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals 2013 season features a contemporary version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Set to take place in the 1960s, this classic tale of young love and mystical debauchery features a groovy cast of characters guaranteed to lead you down a transcendental path of comedy and romance.

The majority of the play takes place at night in the forest somewhere outside of Athens. Two young couples have run off in rebellion to the inflexibility of the rules set forth by their parents.

In the woods, the lovers becomes pawns in a devious game involving magic and vengeance seeking fairies.

Charlie Fee is the show's artistic director. He explains where he gathered inspiration for his vision to transpose this classic into a modern setting that present day audiences would find familiar.

"I have to say that I was drawn very early on in my work for this play to the love songs of the early 60s, particularly the British Invasion music, you know. It's very innocent but it's about rebellion. It's incredibly heartfelt, but it's also naïve. And that's very much where these young lovers are. So that opened the door for me. "

The language itself is one aspect of Shakespeare that may make his plays difficult to follow.

Actor Shad Willingham plays an obnoxiously arrogant leader of a band of misfits who accidentally become snared in the working of the fairies.

Willingham says when the text is presented incorrectly people tend to shy away from Shakespeare. But if the audience is given a setting they are familiar with and actors who can perform the text in a clear manner, the experience can be more enjoyable.

"When you give them a visual clue, or you allow them to relax because it's set in a time period that they can understand, then the language, I think comes easier to them. They're like ‘oh I understand what going on even before they open their mouths."

Carrie Kawa plays dual roles, an aristocratic bride to be, and queen of the fairies.

Kawa says performing Shakespeare in a modern setting is paying tribute to the experiences shared by his original audiences.

"There are a lot of ways to conceptualize Shakespeare. Traditionally, you can do it with Elizabethan costumes and Elizabethan music and hue very closely to what we imagine Shakespeare might have done on stage. You can't go back in a time machine and find out what it was like. But for his audience it was very contemporary, you know, so in a way it's actually truer to the experience that his audience actually had. "

A special twist has been added to this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, one that Charlie Fee and the cast say is sure to help make Shakespeare's comedy more accessible and entertaining for audiences of all ages.