A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a timeless classic comedy about four lovers, mischievous fairies and tireless actors. While there are twists and turns throughout the play, the plot is pretty easy to follow. However, Nebraska Shakespeare has taken the classic and shaken it up a bit in order to fit to their traveling performances.
Nebraska Shakespeare made it a mission to travel around and perform to schools across Nebraska. The group performed its second show out of 30 at Creighton’s Lied Education Center for the Arts on Sept. 22. The troupe spoke of the importance of the play’s ability to engage its audience in a theater setting as opposed to teaching students about Shakespeare in the classroom. That is why the troupe chose to gender-swap some of the crucial roles in their performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Shakespeare is universal. It’s meant to be changed,” Sarah Carlson Brown said during the question-and-answer session after the performance. Brown played Demetria, formerly Demetrius, in the play.
“Changing the gender of the play opens the students up to a dialogue, and opens them up to a way in which they haven’t seen the play before. It’s a refreshing take on the show,” Brown said. The characters themselves were not only gender-swapped, but the dialogue and costumes were catered to fit this modern take on Shakespeare as well.
Katie Becker Colón, who played Bottom/Fairy, said, “The dialogue was opened up, and it was fun, but also a challenge to see how that gender component switched up the ways in which the characters were portrayed. We all had an idea of how the character was meant to be, so we had to really challenge ourselves as actors.”
Josh Ryan, who played Oberon and Theseus, spoke to the difference it made in the characters he and Sarah Vishnev played.
“Our characters weren’t gender-flipped, but a lot of the lines were swapped, and playing Oberon/Theseus and Titania/Hippolyta showed an interesting power dynamic that really changed the play,” Ryan said.
Nebraska Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream addressed the popular show from a different angle, which altogether, told a brand new story.