Barry McNamara  |   Published October 15, 2018

‘A Guaranteed Good Time’

Shakespeare’s popular comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to be staged Oct. 25-28 at Fusion Theatre.
  • Noah Harshbarger (Demetrius), from left, Samantha Roberts (Helena), Ryan Emmons (Lysander) and Amanda Jean Grissom (Hermia) rehearse the upcoming performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s upcoming production of a strange and delightful Shakespeare comedy is “a guaranteed good time,” according to its director.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Todd Quick will direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream Oct. 25-28 at the College’s Fusion Theatre, 230 S. Main St., in downtown Monmouth.

TODD QUICK: ?What really keeps Shakespeare universal and keeps Shakespeare part of our performanc... TODD QUICK: “What really keeps Shakespeare universal and keeps Shakespeare part of our performance seasons is the language.”“You have so many wild and ridiculous characters,” said Quick. “You have a pair of lovers living through a love triangle … with magic spells criss-crossing who’s in love with who. You have a crew of amateur actors who are putting on a play within the play who are not very skilled at all. … And anytime you throw hobgoblins and fairies and magical creatures in a play, it’s a guaranteed good time.”

Quick suggested producing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, during his interview at the College.

“They said, ‘Pitch us a show,’” said Quick, who came to Monmouth from the University of Idaho, where he was a visiting lecturer. “Midsummer is a great first Shakespeare for actors (and) for me working with these students for the first time. It’s one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, so the language and the structure of the verse is a little more accessible than some of his later plays.”

Quick said that Monmouth’s “small, black box” Fusion Theatre, which will feature audience seating on three sides, is a “powerful” place to produce A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“You have a pair of lovers living through a love triangle … with magic spells criss-crossing who’s in love with who. You have a crew of amateur actors who are putting on a play within the play who are not very skilled at all. … And anytime you throw hobgoblins and fairies and magical creatures in a play, it’s a guaranteed good time.”
– Todd Quick, theatre professor

“We want to highlight the language,” said Quick. “What it’s really all about for me is an actor standing alone on the stage speaking directly to the audience. Shakespeare is great because it features so much direct address, where an actor will look at an audience member – look them right in the eyes – and speak directly to them. And that’s a really powerful thing. The Fusion is tailor-made for this production.”

Quick said what sets Shakespeare apart as a playwright is not the plots he developed, but rather his way with words.

“What really keeps Shakespeare universal and keeps Shakespeare part of our performance seasons is the language,” he said. “It’s the language that keeps us coming back to Shakespeare. There’s something about the way he mastered the verse, the poetry, that you can just sit and close your eyes, and the power of the words will just transport you to a different time and place. Hearing it and experiencing it live on the stage, rather than on the page, is an experience like no other.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes place in a forest, where four lovers take refuge as a royal wedding approaches in Athens. They become pawns in the battle between Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies. The antics of Oberon’s servant, Puck, take the audience on an adventure of magic, mistaken identities and love.

Quick said the senior members of Monmouth’s 11-member cast are leading the way, including Amanda Grissom of Eldridge, Iowa, and Billy Savage of Hickory Hills, Ill, both of whom are playing three roles. Grissom is also the show’s scenic designer.

“Amanda has more lines than anyone in the show, and she was the first one off the book,” said Quick. “She’s really set the tone for the rest of the company.”

Seniors Miles Rose (Bottom) of Princeton, Ill., and Terry Harris (Puck) of Chicago will also be prominently featured in the show.

Junior A.J. Green of Henderson, Nev., is the sound designer, while two sophomores from Chicago, Amelia Chavez and Cecilia Carlson, are the stage management team. Sophomore Ryan Emmons of Kansas City and Rose composed original music for the show.

Quick said the cast is “all new to performing Shakespeare, but watching them learn how to bring the language to life and how to effectively share it with an audience has really been exciting for me to watch. I think it’s going to lead to a really exciting product.”

If You Go …

Monmouth College will present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25-27 and at 2 p.m. Oct. 28 at the College’s Fusion Theatre, 230 S. Main St., Monmouth. Tickets can be purchased at department.monm.edu/theatre. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.

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