Shakespeare’s canon features history plays, tragedies and comedies, and a whole lot of loving. As students of Brooks Secondary School have discovered in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, intricacies in the course of true love never run smooth.
When rehearsals started, students said they did not know what love was, according to the play’s director and Brooks drama teacher Brenda Laycock. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not only about romantic love, but also erotic love, love of power and women’s rights, she said.
The young actors have discovered more than the meaning of Shakespeare’s interpretation of 16th century love, courtship and marriage, according to grade 10 student actor Tyler Leslie, 15, who plays Demetrius.
"You didn't throw out a text back then and say, ‘Hey, you want to go out?’" said Leslie. “Instead, Demetrius is given a love potion that results in a love triangle.”
In its most simplistic form, the elaborately interconnected plot of the play features love triangles among foolish mortals and shenanigans of woodland faeries.
Titania, the queen of the faeries, played by Natasha Hryniewiecka, 17, is also given a love potion and falls in love with a donkey.
Underlying the foolishness going on in the forest is a contemporary lesson in environmentalism, according to Hryniewiecka, who is in grade 12.
“What we've noticed in the faeries scenes is that Titania and the faeries take care of the earth,” she said. “This relates to global warming, pollution and that we have to be conscious with what we are doing to our environment.”
Other than an elementary school production in grade six, this is the first theatre Hryniewiwcka has performed in.
“I didn't like it at first; I really wanted to quit,” she said. “Then we got into the acting part.”
Hryniewiwcka moved to Powell River from Edmonton and said it was stressful making friends at Brooks.
“Who am I going to be friends with? Who's going to like me? Are they going to like me?” she said. “That was the stress.”
Hryniewiwcka added that she found friendship within the drama program.
Although A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Leslie’s first appearance in a Shakespeare play, he knows all drama is built upon the words of the bard.
“I came into it knowing no Shakespeare at all,” said Leslie. “After the building of the language, it helps you understand a lot more of what's happening with literature and with other plays. I can use that in relation to this as well. You learn where it all comes from and how it has evolved.”
A cast of 35 students will present one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays for three nights from Thursday, November 23, to Saturday, November 25, at Max Cameron Theatre. Tickets are available at Brooks for $10. The curtain rises ate 7 pm.