CLAREMONT — Mother Nature, ignoring the promises of Punxsutawney Phil, dumped another coating of winter on the region last week, leading one to question the prophetic abilities of groundhogs. But with Amplified Arts’ new production, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Artistic Director Shelly Hudson hopes theatergoers will leave feeling the warm lift of spring within.
“It’s the perfect love story” heading into Valentine’s Day weekend and a “fun and happening [remedy] for the winter doldrums,” Hudson told the Eagle Time on Wednesday.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” ranks among the most performed of Shakespeare’s plays and one of the most accessible to new audiences. It is a comedy in both the classical theater definition, in which the protagonists don’t wind up dead, and the modern sense. It is a fun and rollicking play whose blend of situational comedy, wit and sometimes bawdy humor influenced many contemporary conventions.
Additionally, the script is mostly written in conversational prose, with less iambic pentameter-laden monologues and soliloquies than many Shakespeare works, Hudson said.
“For people who are new to Shakespeare and want something attainable, this is probably one of the best plays,” Hudson said.
The play is a love story draped in comedic farce and mythological fantasy. Set in an enchanted forest, four young lovers, who are already entrapped in romantic conflicts, become additionally entangled in the meddlings of warring fairies. Situations grow even more confusing when a small troupe of bumbling actors enter the mix.
Like life, the play’s chief mischief-maker, a fairy named Puck, ensures that “the course of true love is anything but smooth, and games of fantasy, love and dreams ensue,” according to Amplified Arts’ press release.
This is Hudson’s second Shakespearean production in the downtown theater’s five year history, which staged Hamlet in 2018.
Hudson is pleased that most of her cast in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” were also in her production of Tom Stoppard’s “Shakespeare in Love” last August.
“I don’t know if our community realizes how much incredible talent we have in this area,” Hudson said. “Putting on plays is not easy. It’s basically myself with a ton of volunteers.”
Hudson is also proud of her theater’s open-room layout, which provides theatergoers with a more “intimate” type of play-watching experience. For “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Hudson intentionally designed the seating plan and stage to remove some of the traditional barrier between the audience and actors.
There will also be trampolines, Hudson said.
The fairies will jump on trampolines behind set pieces with face-cutouts, so their heads will appear when vaulted into the air, she explained.
Tonight’s opening performance, with a dinner and show promotion with Revolution Cantina on Tremont Street, is already sold out, but tickets are still available — as of Wednesday — for the following night’s show on Friday, Feb. 14, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Other shows will be: Saturday, Feb. 15 (7:30 p.m.), Sunday, Feb. 16 (2 p.m.), Friday, Feb. 21 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, Feb. 22 (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday, Feb. 23 (2 p.m.).
Amplified Arts is located at 31 Pleasant St. Tickets are $17 for general admission and $15 for seniors and students under 18 years old. To order tickets, get more information about the theater or inquire into volunteering, visit the theater’s website at www.amplifiedartsnh.com. One can also reach the box office at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 603-856-5424.
Be advised that the shows sell out, so advance tickets are encouraged.
Amplified Arts is a for-profit business with a nonprofit heart, also known as a social enterprise. AMP’s mission is to provide Sullivan County an inclusive venue that is a space to explore, create and share extraordinary arts. They currently offer a full season of award-winning locally produced live theater by their teen Academy and the adult Company as well as a retail art gallery called Streetside Gallery and a pop up cinema all under one roof.