The Pima Community College Theatre Arts program wanted to end its season in a big way.
"This show is massive," said Frank Pickard about William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which he is directing. "It's very unique that we have such a big show as our last show for this season."
Pima's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream includes all of the original characters, who can be grouped together into three worlds: the mortals, rustics and fairies. While the fairies are depicted like you'd expect, the mortals are portrayed as royals dressed in 1970s country-club attire, and the rustics are shown as typical blue-collar workers.
"Shakespeare was brilliant at getting audiences to the theater, because there was so much that was previously only in their imagination that he brought to life on stage. He really enjoyed wowing them with creatures. If he said it was a ghost, they believed it was a ghost," explained Pickard.
The plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream is still as complex as it was when you read it in high school. "There are a lot of interwoven plots; they all interact together," Pickard said about the various characters.
The dialogue is spoken in traditional Shakespearean language. "It's more or less very traditional style," said Michael Walker, who plays Nick Bottom. "But you can put Shakespeare in any time period."
Pickard said he didn't want to pick a setting that was too crazy for the Pima rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is being performed in the cozy PCC Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre. "Our set consists of a wild array of caves and platforms. There are lots of things to climb in or under and a trapeze to swing on. ... It looks like you're walking into a different world. It's a very organic setting."
Walker said that the set includes a lot of pieces that the actors interact with. "I end up using a metal beam, which represents a tree, and I end up climbing up it a few times," Walker said.
Once the audience has had a chance to take in the setting, viewers get to see the three worlds interacting with each other—and by the end, everyone is sure to walk out feeling like they've learned a lesson. And although this lesson might be different for each member of the audience, it's still a lesson nonetheless.
"Reading it, there's an art to the words. You can fall in love with the words," said Walker. "But seeing it in person, you can see the characters, and you're able to fall in love with them and understand the words in a different way than you did when reading it."
Pickard said people like to see Shakespeare's plays for various reasons.
"Many people will come (simply) because it's Shakespeare. There is a lot of humor," said Pickard. "There are many moments the audience will really enjoy."
In fact, he said audience enjoyment could cause trouble for the young actors in the play.
"We might need to do some practicing with an audience," Pickard said in advance of the play's opening. "I think there are going to be some parts where the audience just reacts, and the actors aren't going to be ready for it."