By Kevin Wilson
Even if they haven’t seen it, Eastern New Mexico University theatre professor Felipe Macias is sure that audience members will be familar with the material when they see next weekend’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“It’s one of the more accessible of all of (William Shakespeare’s) plays,” Macias said, “and one of his most popular.”
A cast of approximately 20 actors and actresses, along with several behind the scenes, will bring the romantic comedy to the stage for three consecutive 8 p.m. performances, starting Feb. 16 at the University Theatre Center.
Macias said the play revovles around two pairs of star-crossed lovers who move to the forest because Athenian law does not allow them to marry. The King of the Fairies, who rules over the forest, sends a fairy to enchant one of the males. The fairy ends up enchanting the wrong male, part of a chain of events.
“He gets things a little mixed up,” said senior Jamie Barnes, who is playing Puck, “and he causes the misunderstanding between the lovers.”
Barnes is one of several students using this performance as their senior recital. Another person using the play as her senior recital is Ruth Browne, who is working as the scene designer.
Browne, who spent Tuesday evening painting backdrops for the set, said the challenge is to find a balance for the audience.
“We want it to be magical,” Browne said, “but we want it to be scary at the same time.”
Brown said the image of scary would resemble a sense of “the monster in the closet that turns out to be your coat.” The thing that changes the scenery from magical to scary, Browne said, is the lighting, and she has freedom to accomplish that however she sees fit.
“I get to take a lot of liberty on how it looks,” Browne said. “It really depends on the direction the director wants to take it in. With this (play), the sky’s the limit.”
If people haven’t seen the play, Macias said, he said it would be likely that they’d probably have heard lines from the play elsewhere. For example, the play was used in “Dead Poets Society” as a metaphor, and many of the fairies in children’s movies were derived from the characters in Shakespeare’s play.
“I think that the best part for the students,” Macias said, “is getting to work with Shakespeare and getting to say all of those wonderful, wonderful words.”
The cast list includes several of ENMU’s consistent performers over the last few years like Solomon Romney and Jennae Pinnell, along with Portales High School graduates Desiree Markham and Charles Britton.
However, the name that may grab the most attention is the one playing Egeus, the domineering father of one of the lovers. Greyhound football coach Mark Ribaudo auditioned for and received that part.
“Mark has been a big supporter of the program since he got here,” said Macias. “He came to all the shows and he’s expressed an interest in auditioning.”