The Nashville Shakespeare Festival will honor as well as “hold up the mirror” to its hometown with its 2013 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Aug. 15 through Sept. 15 at the Centennial Park bandshell.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening with pre-show entertainment starting at 6:30 p.m. Food and drink can be purchased at the park. The show is free and open to the public with a $10 suggested donation.
The festival continues its 25th anniversary celebration with one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, perfect for Nashville’s “magical summer evenings,” according to Denice Hicks, who is directing this family-friendly and “green” production that has already garnered mention in The New York Times.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a favorite for so many people,” says Hicks, who also serves as executive artistic director for the festival. “The comedy is still fresh, the magic still charming. We’re setting it here and now – in the ‘Athens of the South’ 2013 – because the characters work so well in the Southern culture and Nashville is truly a magical, romantic city.”
Hicks explains that the production holds up “a comedic mirror” to Nashville. Those who attend are likely to recognize themselves and their neighbors in the characters. “The traditional, privileged world of the Athenian upper class will be represented as ‘Old Nashville,’ full of debutantes, politicians, cigars and champagne,” she says. “The Mechanicals in the play are the hard-working, blue-collar class and our devoted tourists. Meanwhile, the Fairies are creative, magical creatures who make flowers bloom and butterflies fly as well as recycle and repurpose trash into clothing, accessories and works of art. The play has fun with every aspect of Nashville society, and we will see how we can all complement each other and live harmoniously in this great city.”
Nat McIntyre and Apolonia Davalos, newcomers to Nashville from New York, will play Oberon and Titania, with Andrew Gumm in the role of Puck. Bonnie Keen, three-time Dove award winner and Grammy and Emmy nominee, will lead the “Mechanicals” as Peter Quince, and Craige Hoover will play Nick Bottom. The play will also feature Brad Brown, Nettie Kraft, Derek Whittaker, Houston Mahoney, Raffeal Sears, Lauren Ballard and Savannah Frazier.
June Kingsbury has created costumes that consist entirely of recycled items, including costumes from previous shows, coffee bags, plastic shopping bags, bottle caps and second-hand clothing. MadeFirst is designing the set with lighting by Anne Willingham.
Nettie Kraft, the festival’s education director, has designed an online study guide for the summer production. She can also book school and business workshops that relate to the production.
Support for this year’s Shakespeare in the Park comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival was one of 817 nonprofit organizations across the nation to receive an NEA Art Works grant. These grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts and the strengthening of communities through the arts.
Other support for Shakespeare in the Park has been provided by Metro Parks, First Tennessee Foundation and Bradfield Stage Lighting. 2013 season supporters are Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Tennessee Arts Commission and the Martha and Bronson Ingram Foundation. 2013 media sponsors include Aim Solutions, Whitehardt Inc., xfinity, Jive! and NowPlayingNashville.com.
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival relies heavily on the generosity of corporations, foundations, individuals and government agencies as it continues to educate and entertain the Mid-South community through professional Shakespearean experiences. Businesses and foundations receive excellent exposure and are granted myriad benefits in exchange for helping the festival give the gift of Shakespeare to the community. For more information on ways to support the Nashville Shakespeare Festival visit this page or call (615) 255-2273.
*Photo by Jeff Frazier of Andrew Gumm as Puck, Apolonia Davalos as Titania and Nat McIntyre as Oberon courtesy Nashville Shakespeare Festival.