A Shakespearean musical: Upper school presents ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’


Photo credit: Guinevere Hesse

Sophomore Remi Cannon plays the mischievous fairy Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This year, the production took place in the courtyard, which allowed the cast to utilizes large sets throughout the entire performance.

By Rose Sarner, Culture Editor

This year, Archer’s upper school created their own version of William Shakespeare’s influential comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The play takes place in Athens and explores ancient Greek methodology where mischievous fairies are combined with comedic characters and plot twists. Four characters stumble upon a fairy in the forest while they are running away from home. In the forest, the characters fall in love and play with magic.

“’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ has taught me a lot about language, how language is used and how there’s literally a meaning behind every word,” assistant play director Lily Kerner (’22) said.

Auditions for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” began online Jan. 4 due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Play director Tracy Poverstein decided to conduct online auditions rather than postponing them until students returned from remote learning to campus.

“I think the theater department has always had a really strong sense of community, and I think after doing virtual theater for a year, people realize what a gift it is to be able to be together, to be able to have live theater and a live audience,” Poverstein said. “Something that maybe before we took for granted, and now I think it has an extra meaning.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” took place March 17, 18 and 19 in the Eastern Star courtyard. The cast rehearsed for two months and had two weeks of tech week that lead up to the performance. Most roles were double-cast due to the large number of participants that auditioned for the play.

“Tech week is always fun to have on campus because we get to be at school until 8 p.m. and we all get to be together in the courtyard,” junior Letizia Oetker said. “It’s actually really fun doing a play outside in the courtyard because it’s a great large space to rehearse while also being outside.” 

Because “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” took place in the courtyard, the production team was able to incorporate larger set pieces that utilized the entire outdoor space.

“[Being in the courtyard has] simultaneously been much more liberating and … within the courtyard, we can have more people here. We have more space to move, but because of budgeting, we can’t have lighting everywhere,” Kerner said. “I remember watching Shakespeare in the Green shows — they had those before COVID and construction when I was in sixth and seventh grade — and I just remember coming out here and watching the Shakespeare shows [produced by the Independent Shakespeare Company] that Archer was putting on, and it’s like full circle and really cool to be a part of.”

The original script is three hours long, but in order to make it more approachable, for young actors, Poverstein cut down some of the longer speeches to last for 1 hour, and 15 minutes instead.

“This year, we [had] to be more patient with each other since we’re all coming out of COVID-19,” Oetker said. “We have all taken a break from theater so, coming back to in-person theater highlights a lot of small things to work on. We prioritized re-learning the basics to make this show the best it can be.”

After remote learning, Zoom productions and various shifts in mask regulations throughout the past few years, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” did not require students to wear masks throughout the performance.

“I think after being remote for so long, we are all craving connection and community and finding that during difficult times, we really need to lean on each other,” Poverstein said. “Love is the only thing that gets people through hard events.”