A Midsummer Night's Dream

This high-tech treatment of Shakespeare's masterpiece played June 29 - July 1, 2000 in the Lumley Studio Theatre at the University of Kent at Canterbury.

The Y2K production of A Midsummer Night's Dream marks a collaboration between i.e.VR and the Kent Intreactive Digital Design Studio or KIDDS, a group developing the use of computers in theatrical visualization, with both historical and practical ends. i.e.VR director Mark Reaney was awarded a Leverhulme fellowship from the University of Kent. While there, he teamed up with the UKC staff and students that comprise KIDDS to create an exciting new rendition of this time-honored classic.

For this production it was decided that the fantasy world of the fairy forest would be updated to a modern fantasy realm of computer games, cyberspace and science fiction. There were several reasons behind this choice. First, as we were attempting to prove the value of using digital technologies to present a show to a modern, media-savvy audience, we thought it necessary to create the type of multi-layered, information rich, new-media setting made possible with digital technologies. Additionally, we were looking for a production esthetic that would compliment the computer generated images that would be used to create the various scenes, thereby making the medium not just a conveyer of the concept but a part of that concept. By creating a computer-based world inhabited and controlled by fairies , we sought to humorously illustrate the understanding many people have of the mysterious mechanical processes inside the computers that they use every day. Finally, it was our intention to draw attention to the interesting manner in which people conceive of electronic communication and interaction mediums as a form of geography. In our production, we gave physical form to cyberspaces, replacing the more abstract notions of chat "rooms" and web "addresses".

Dividing the cyber forest into separate locales had the additional benefit of demonstrating the width and breadth of digital influence and, as a parallel, the vastness of our cyber-fairy world. The grove in which we first meet Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, became in our production the scene of a computer chess game. Titaniaís bower was constructed in a word processor motif, with words from the play text wafting as the fronds of an enormous willow tree. Other settings included a maze through pages of the world wide web, a drippy paint program cave complete with wandering brushes and paint buckets, a sewer strewn with the remnants of old "Pac-Man" and "Pong" games and an arena where the fighting lovers could battle in the midst of violent computer games.

Scenery was generated on backstage computers and projected onto onstage screens. The majority of the scenery was generated in real-time through the use of virtual reality technologies. Projecting the scenery in stereoscopic 3D and outfitting the audience with 3Dglasses created the illusion that the virtual settings shared the stage with the actors. Doing so created a bridge between the 2-dimensional, cinematic images of the scenery and the 3-dimensional presence of the live performance.

The Team

Josephine Le Grice - Director
Mark Reaney - Production Designer
Michael Gold - Scenic Designer
Beth Collins- Costume Designer
Adam Owen - Lighting Designer/Modeler
Kirree Seddon - Sound Designer
Ethen Maltby - Composer
Gavin Carver - Production Manager
Cat Fergusson - Stage Manager
Matt Napleton - Deputy Stage Manager
Computer Modelers
Bronia Housman, Jenny Taylor, Helen Stewart, Rachel Woolley

Oberon and Titania in the corporate palace

The Cast

Theseus - Dougie Boyd
Hippolyta - 'Anna Rogakou
Egeus - Chris Decon-Jones
Lysander - Andy Hawkins
Demetrius - Jamie Garbett
Hermia - Nina Wigfall
Helena - Gemma Soave
Philostrate - Gav Jones
Oberon - Dougie Boyd
Titania - 'Anna Rongakos
Puck - Charlie Dobson
Mustardseed - Vicky Aspden
Cobweb - EJ Boutwood
Peasblossom - Stavroula Dramoglou
Quince - Karen Moore
Bottom - Amy Oliver
Flute - Spencer Noll
Snout - Sarah Waterman
Starvling - Becca Coles
Snug - Kirsty Stark
Lovers lost in the "painted" forest.
Titania's "word processor" bower.
Plotting the escape in the bathroom.

Click on the pictures above for larger images!

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