Shakespeare Summer Club: Performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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This has to be the largest and most extravagant, not to mention complicated, presentation we have ever pulled off.  It was also one of the most satisfying, gratifying and pride inducing experiences, educationally speaking, I have ever had.  It could not have gone any better.  It was more than any of us could have hoped for and the feeling afterwards….well, let’s just say I could not have slept that night for all the tea in China.  I was riding too high on a wave of excitement.  It has literally taken me all this time to return back to earth and recover.  Wow….just wow!

My photos unfortunately do not do this presentation justice.  We had completely cleared out our living area and filled it to the brim with enough seating to sit fourteen, yes fourteen, spectators.  Usually we only invite family and one other family or couple.  This time we went a bit nuts.  Actually I went a bit nuts.  I know.  So unusual.  Must have been Lorna the Nutter’s influence!  Anyway this meant I just had enough room to squeeze at the back with my camera.  It didn’t occur to me to use my long lens which would have meant that I could have taken much clearer and closer pictures.  Sigh.  I live and learn.

On Arrival

The guests were greeted first by T who was on car park duty, and then by the twins who were our allotted meeters and greeters.  They took the guests’ coats, welcomed them, handed out brochures and showed them to their seats.  Lorna had created the most beautiful fliers, posters and programs:

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Each used a design drawn by L12 and the program included enough information (we hoped) that the audience would be able to follow the play without too much difficulty:

  • The characters and their relationship to each other as well as a precis of the main story lines held within each act:

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  • Going through each act and explaining what each would be like and the characters each actor played (they changed from one act to another):

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  • Explanations of how we would attempt to link the acts to make one whole understandable story line:

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  • And the lyrics to the final song which everyone sung together:

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  • K also asked each member of the audience which drink they would like in the interval.

Introduction 

Gary introduced the whole presentation, explaining all we hoped to achieve with it, and also mentioning that audience participation would be essential in Act II:

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We then got on with the play…..

Introducing a multi media performance of Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Act I

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We began the show with the tv sitting on a table we had covered in a black table-cloth:

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It was a great way to start and I think everyone in the Shakespeare Stragglers began to relax as the audience enjoyed the boys’ take on Act I, laughing in all the right places.  B in a dress was, as always, a huge hit!

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Act II

This was a Readers Theater rewrite of Act II and required the audience to swap places with the actors and become the performers themselves.  I had created a prop box which the participants could use if the wanted.  I will just post a series of pictures which give you a flavour of just how much the audience threw themselves into this whole act.  It was hilarious from start to finish and everyone had a fabulous time both acting and watching.

Here they are getting into the various props:

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Puck:

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Oberon:

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Titania:

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And they were off.  My very lovely friend Nik was narrator:

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Everyone joined in so enthusiastically.  It really was very funny to watch~:

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It was at this point I knew we didn’t have anything to worry about.  All would be wonderful!

Act III

For me, Act III was when I began to realise just what we had achieved in the past four weeks.  The children executed their parts and words flawlessly.  All their hard work and many, many rehearsals flashed before my eyes and culminated in this moment.  By the end I had tears streaming down my face.  I was so proud of them all.  They not only read Shakespeare’s works without error but with absolutely spot on intonation and rhythm.  All that work on iambic pentameter obviously paid off!  This act was probably the one the guests talked about the most, commenting frequently that it was obvious the children fully understood the words they were saying.  Honestly, they were brilliant!

  • Here is Titania, in love with Bottom:

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  • Titania’s little fairies serving Bottom:

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  • Puck watching the confusion in the forest as both Lysander and Demetrius declare their love for Helena:

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  • Hermia’s resulting bewilderment when she finds out Lysander no longer loves her:

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  • Puck causing mischief as Lorna narrates:

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After act III there was a short interval for refreshments.

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I so wish I had taken photos of the basket of goodies K had prepared.  She did such a good job.  The basket was full to the brim of mini banana muffins, mini chocolate fudge brownies, mini double macaroons and mini ginger bread hearts – all home made by her very own hands.  Honestly, not only did they taste gorgeous but she presented them so well.  K chose to personally go round with her basket offering out her goodies, which went down very well with our guests:

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Act IV

This act was the one which, I think, everyone was most nervous about.  It was C’s interpretation, Glee style, and contained the littles as well as many solos.  There was no need to worry though, as they nailed it.  I was slowly becoming a blubbering wreck in the corner as I listened to all their lovely voices.  The solos blew me away – the courage it must have taken to sing alone in front of that many people!  My son probably surprised me the most though with his solo, as he is as shy as I am about things like that and yet he conquered his nerves and did a great job.  C had this act set in modern times, with modern dress, modern turns of phrase and modern songs:

  • C12 singing Black Magic by Little Mix, still in love with Bottom, Oberon looks on feeling jealous:

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  • C12 as Titania singing Hushabye Mountain with the little ones, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

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  • Oberon reverses the spell, Bottom returns to his normal being without an ass’ head, whilst Titania wakes up and sings Wide Awake by Katy Perry:

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  • Oberon and Titania are together again and dance away, leaving Bottom feeling bereft.  Bottom (T13) sings Somebody that I Used to Know by Gotye:

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  • Lorna narrates to tell the audience that all four lovers are now in love with the right partners.  They return to the stage with Theseus and Hypolyta to sing Just Give me a Reason by Pink:

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There ends Act IV.

Act V

This was L’s interpretation.  It is set after Theseus’, Hypolyta’s and the four lovers’ wedding.  They are being entertained prior to retiring to bed, by the workers who have been rehearsing the ‘lamentable comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe’.  L had decided to have actors on to act as the four lovers and Theseus (they make sarcastic, comical comments all the way through the woefully bad play), and have the woefully bad play acted by puppets.  She handmade all the puppets, with a little help from me.  I was really looking forward to this act.  L, Gary and Lorna were taking control of the puppets.  Gary came on as Quince and gave the prologue to the play, introducing all the characters (puppets).  And the play began with Theseus and the four lovers sitting behind the trees in the side lines.

  • Pyramus wanders into the garden looking for his love, Thisbe:

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  • He spies a hole in the ‘wicked wall’ and searches for his Thisbe:

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  • He spies Thisbe and they kiss through the hole, with Thisbe reporting that she is only kissing the air and not ‘her love’:

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  • Lion and Moonshine are introduced:

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  • Pyramus arranges to meet Thisbe at Ninny’s tomb and he leaves.  Shortly after, Thisbe is scared off by a lion, who mauls her and manages to grab her shawl:

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  • Pyramus finds Thisbe’s shawl covered in blood:

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  • and, thinking she is dead, comically kills himself (with a pencil!):

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  • Thisbe then enters to find Pyramus dead:

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  • and kills herself in a similar manner (all very reminiscent of our study of Romeo and Juliet):

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  • Puck returns to stage to finish the play off with a summation of events and an invitation to the audience to sing just one more song ‘There can be Miracles’ by Maria Carey and Whitney Houston:

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  • Everyone had the lyrics at the back of the program and we all sung together:

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It was the perfect end to the perfect evening.

After the play

There were many thank you’s given but I was personally moved to tears by K, who had bought me a lovely bunch of red roses herself, and publicly thanked me for homeschooling her in such a fun way since she had left formal education to be home schooled.  K has changed so much since she left school and has truly blossomed in every way.  It has been an honour for me to be even a small part of this transformation.  So yes I cried.  Again.

Homeschooling the Middle & High School YearsWeekly Wrap-UpCollage Friday at Homegrown Learners

19 comments

  1. Claire, I have been away for the summer and am only now catching up on your blogs. I have found reading about your Shakespeare club interesting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing everything even the things which didn’t work as well as you wanted.
    This performance looks so good. Everyone is smiling and obviously having alot of fun. You might have inspired me to try out a Shakespeare club this year 😉

  2. Well, wow! is exactly the right sentiment. What a fantastic evening. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us who would have loved to have been there too, but wouldn’t have fit anyway 🙂 Excellent work from all of you!

  3. Claire, I am so pleased that it not only met, but exceeded your expectations. The amount of work put into this presentation was enormous. I don’t know how you all got it done in such a short period of time. I wish all your bloggy friends could have been there to share in the excitement! Please pass on our congratulations to everyone on a job most excellently done!!!
    We visited a museum exhibit from Scotland yesterday and saw The Reconciliation of Oberon and Titania painted by Sir Joseph Noel Paton in 1847 and thought of you all as we were admiring it.
    I hope you are enjoying a well-deserved rest this week.:)

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