- An adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Shakespeare’s language has been maintained
- Suitable for all ages (although Shakespeare had his adult moments…)
- Runtime: 65 minutes
- Nominated for a Saskatoon and Area Theatre Award for Achievement in Sound Design (for the live soundscape)
HOW BOTTOME’S DREAME WAS CREATED
The creative process employed for this production was truly unique. All artistic work was done by the ensemble of actors with no outside designers or stage managers – thus, the creative energies of the work on the text directly fed into the work of design. Unlike in a traditional staging process, the design was not in place before rehearsals with the actors. Instead, the design evolved and grew along with the ensemble’s understanding of the text.
Here’s how it worked:
- Text adaptation: the characters of the Lovers and the plot that revolves around them was removed completely, leaving the stories of the Fairies and the Rude Mechanicals; very few in-scene cuts or alterations were made to the text
- Rehearsing Shakespeare’s Text: We explored the text physically and with constant reference to the First Folio, aiming for a dynamic, comprehensible, full-body performance, free of predictable, stand-and-deliver Shakespeare
- Magic: We explored how to stage magic, creating intricate soundscapes and using swaths of fabric as expressive tools, developing a “magical language” for our production
- Set: We created a set that would allow for easy transformation from palace to market to woods and back again (full disclosure: we had lots of help building it, even if we designed it ourselves)
- Staging: we rejected traditional use of the theatre space and placed our “tiring house” behind the audience rather than backstage; entrances and exits were through the audience, allowing for intimate and direct dialogue with the audience and creating a heightened sense that the audience was directly involved in the action
- Costumes: We created “costume worlds” for the different groupings of characters
(court, fairies, rude mechanical), not shackling ourselves to a time period, but rather expressing the heart of the story
- Live Sound: we integrated sound into these 3 “worlds” using actor-generated soundscapes to establish setting and mood; all sounds were created live by the artists, often using musical instruments in innovative, non-melodic ways
- Previews and Sneak-Peeks: We did staged readings in Regina and Saskatoon and a fully-staged preview in Prince Albert to ensure the production was ready for audiences!
Bottome’s Dreame has been in the works for a long time. I’ve wanted to play with adapting Shakespeare’s texts into concise, hour-long pieces for ages. Despite
the somewhat radical alterations to the play, in adapting and in our work in rehearsal, we always maintained a deep respect for the text. The abridgement of the play is quite unique. Unlike most, where cuts within scenes and even lines are common, our text leaves speeches and scene almost unaltered – with one key exception: the total removal of the plot involving the young lovers. That’s right. We’ve cut the main characters. This allows our story to focus intensely for 60 minutes on the “subplots” of the Fairies and the Rude Mechanicals – the funniest and most interesting parts as far as I’m concerned. It allows us to explore the interactions of the two groups in a very direct and unhindered way through the lens of the transformation of Bottome (fun fact: this spelling is taken from the First Folio text, considered to be the authoritative text of most of Shakespeare’s works, and the text on which our entire production is based).