Students at Fairleigh Dickinson University brought William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to life in Dreyfuss Theater from Oct. 14 to 18. The play was directed by Carole Healey, who has been filling in for Stephen Hollis while he is on sabbatical.
Healey has been an actor and director for about 30 years. She said Hollis has directed her professionally in plays in the past, and eventually asked her to teach a class.
“I taught and I loved it,” she said happily. She went on to say that teaching is a “really good fit for an actor.”
Hollis then enlisted Healey to direct the October play this year. In terms of casting, Healey referred to this play as “such a good fit for young actors.”
Healey took a slightly different approach in directing “Midsummer,” as the show is often referred to. She explained that traditionally Athens in the world of “Midsummer” is a male-dominated society with environmental disasters – which got her thinking about recent dystopian movies. “What if this Athens [is on the] brink of collapse?” she asked.
She went on to explain the contrast between warlike Athens, which seems to be dominated by male logic, and the woods, which is more feminine and “doesn’t always make logical sense but emotional sense.”
She also mentioned that the show is about finding balance. “The ‘Dream’ allows us to pass over into the world of the subconscious,” Healey wrote in the Director’s Note, included in the show’s playbill: “to explore our shadow selves in a rich and hilarious tapestry of confusion which ultimately reveals a deeper truth… That we contain both yin and yang: shadow and light, male and female.”
After weeks of rehearsal, Shakespeare’s play finally graced the FDU Main Stage on Oct 14.
“Opening night was amazing!” said Sara Giacomini, who played Hermia. “We had such a great audience and the energy was up! We were all so excited to share our story with them.”
The show was filled with loads of laughs from the audience, which enjoyed every joke.
One of Healey’s original hopes was for the audience to “relax about the language” and just follow the story.
Another one of Healey’s hopes was for the audience to find balance in their own lives, just as the characters in the story eventually find balance.
“I know sometimes it’s hard with the language, but I feel that we’ve been making our intentions clear,” said Lauren Angelini, who played Helena.
“There’s something kind of for everyone in it,” Healey explained of “Midsummer.”
She described the show as “eminently relatable” for an audience, stating that people can always find a little bit of their own lives within it.
“Her enthusiasm and excitement is contagious,” Mike Gardiner, who played Oberon, said of Healey’s positive attitude towards the show.
Healey is undoubtedly proud of both her cast and crew. She said she is “so amazed” and “impressed” by her actors. She also paid compliment to Jennie Davies, the Production Stage Manager of the show.
Calling her “God,” Healey explained that Davies is responsible for calling the shots when it comes to the production.
“She becomes like the leading lady of the play,” Healey said of Davies’ job for the shows.
Healey said she has to commute through the worst traffic each night and wouldn’t do it “if it weren’t for these students.”
The students are also proud of the work they have done for the show.
“I’m just so proud of this hard working cast and crew, the way they’re able to roll with the punches with anything that comes our way,” Angelini said.
Gardiner has learned a few things from taking on his role as Oberon. “This part has certainly made me grow as an actor in terms of undertaking large chunks of text to bring to life, and simply trusting Shakespeare’s words and letting them take me to where I need to go emotionally as the character and not the other way around,” he explained.
Giacomini confessed that her role as Hermia didn’t come easily at first, but she loved the challenge. “There were some parts of Hermia that took me a while to find, but once she clicked in, I was very happy,” she said.
The actors had to learn how to tackle Shakespeare’s words, and they did an amazing job at bringing those words to life for their audiences. Although the show ended after only four days, it clearly made an impact on its cast, crew and the FDU community.
The next production on the FDU Main Stage is “She Loves Me,” showing Dec. 2 to 6.