Austin Shakespeare Presents an Innovative Interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The professional theater company will perform a modern take on the timeless story at Zilker Hillside Theater for four weekends in May
By Meher Qazilbash
Photos courtesy of Austin Shakespeare
For the first time since 2019, the theater company will give 17 live performances at the historic Zilker Hillside Theater. An essential Austin tradition, the outdoor venue has been offering theater productions, live music performances and film screenings to the public for decades.
“An outdoor show like this really gives you a strong sense of community when you’re out on the hillside and people have their picnics and children,” says Director Ann Ciccolella. “It’s a very festive atmosphere.”
From the imagination of the world’s greatest dramatist, A Midsummer Night’s Dream tells the story of young love, jealousy and marriage, with magical, zany characters and many plot twists along the way. Audiences will be entertained by the hilarity, beautiful prose, stellar costumes and more from this beloved romantic comedy.
“We are thrilled to bring Austin-tatious creativity to what has been hailed as Shakespeare’s ‘perfect comedy,’ with professional Austin actors playing lovers, fairies and comics, featuring a pop music mix by L.B. Bartholomee,” says Ciccolella.
Austin Shakespeare has made several modern changes to the classic tale. The role of Bottom the Donkey, traditionally played by a male actor, will be gender-swapped, with Gwendolyn Kelso taking on the part. In another character switch, Milaka Falk will play forceful parent Egeus, who sparks all the madness.
Other talented actors and actresses from the cast include Dane Parker (Lysander), Max Green (Demetrius), Helyn Rain Messenger (Helena), Eliza Renner (Hermia), Charles Gross (Theseus) and Emily Green (Hippolyta).
More innovative flares to the production include the usage of pop and electronic music, a spectacular final dance choreographed by Anu Naimpally and colorful spirited costumes designed by Aaron Kubacak.
“The costume design for Midsummer embraces whimsy and incorporates lush jewel-tone fabrics, botanical elements and magical fairies with headdresses that light up,” says Kubacak. “Its contemporary style has delightful hits of steampunk and gender play.”
All ages are welcome to visit and bring their lawn chairs and picnic blankets at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays from May 4 to 29 for an evening of art, enchantment and amusement. Co-sponsored by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the shows are handicap accessible, offering wheelchair ramps and ASL interpreters on select dates.
“We’re very excited to make [the performance] accessible, entertaining and also to highlight the beauty of the language and of the lyricism,” adds Ciccolella.
For more information on the upcoming shows, visit austin shakespeare.org.