UNCSA will perform Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as 2019 season opener

The UNCSA School of Drama and School of Design and Production present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” William Shakespeare’s most popular and well-known comedy, directed by Cameron Knight, associate professor of acting and directing in the School of Drama. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 3-5, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6, at the Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 North Spruce St.

Tickets are $20 regular and $15 student with valid ID, and are available online or by calling the UNCSA Box Office at 336-721-1945.

Shakespeare’s beloved play about unrequited love, betrayals, marital quarrels, mistaken identities and the pursuit of the object of one’s affection is reimagined by Knight for senior acting students.

Cameron Knight directs the senior class in the School of Drama in the season opener "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Cameron Knight directs "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"Don’t bring any preconceived notions about Shakespeare to the play. Just know it will be an exciting time,” said Knight. “The color scheme of the sets and costumes will reflect the three worlds of the comedy, ranging from the sterile black-and-white canvas of the court to the earth tones of the working class to the Technicolor palette of the fairy world.”

According to scenic designer Melissa Smith, a third-year student in the School of Design and Production (D&P), finding a way to thread together the three different worlds was a welcome challenge.

“The trick with this show was finding a way for each of the worlds to coexist,” said Smith. “We had to work together to find a visual language to demonstrate that although each world is very different, they still have similarities.”

While this is the first show Smith has designed for UNCSA, she assisted Rachel Miller on the 2019 Winter Opera “Werther” and Calvin Stara on the 2019 one-act play presentation, “American Voices.”

The audience should expect a high stimulation show, magical moments and a twist on classic Shakespeare.

Melissa Smith, scenic designer

“What makes this production so fun is that I am using familiar objects in new and surprising ways,” said Smith. “The audience should expect a high stimulation show, magical moments and a twist on classic Shakespeare.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” tells the story of four young Athenians who try to find their soulmates and end up in a lovers’ tangle due to the mischievous Puck and his magic flower. One of the most quotable quotes from the play, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” captures it succinctly.

While written by Shakespeare in 1595/96, Knight believes these love stories which explore themes of sexuality and gender identity are still relevant for today. “We watch people struggling with how they’re perceived, what control they have or don’t have over their lives, and how they strive to achieve their dreams,” said Knight. “This, too, rings true today, as we are obsessed with our smart phones, social media, the unending news cycles, fretting over inconsequential things, and trying to be perfect when we should simply not take ourselves so seriously.”

Two of the play’s most prevalent themes are sleep and dreams. As the title infers, there is a lot of sleeping going on in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“Healing happens when we sleep and dream—a time when we are most vulnerable and unable to control our lives,” said Knight. “And we emerge from sleep transformed. Witnessing that transformation in the play’s characters will be a healing experience for the audience.”

The cast for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” includes seniors Liz Steinmetz, Puck/Philostrate; Jasper Knight Keen, Oberon/Theseus; Katelyn Kelley, Titiana/Hippolyta; Patrick Monaghan, Egeus; Justine Marler, Lysander; Lance Smith, Demetrius; Kate Pittard, Helena; David Johnson III, Bottom; David Hiro, Peter Quince; David Ospina, Flute; and Jon Demegillo, Snout. Second-year students who round out the cast include Michael Washington, Starveling; Nic Brown, Snug; Isabelle Busseau, Peaseblossom/Ensemble; Briana Middleton, Cobweb/Ensemble; Mimi Viglietti, Moth/Ensemble; Murphy Applin Jr., Mustardseed/Ensemble; and Ishmael Gonzalez, Jacob Moskovitz and Darby Donough, Oberon Fairies/Ensemble.

Assistant Dean of Drama Krisha Marcano is the choreographer. Drama faculty member Sara Becker is the voice and text coach. Acadia Barrengos, a second-year student in the School of Drama’s directing program, is assistant director.

Students from the School of D&P who round out the creative team include: Clara Ash Moore, lighting designer; Nik Parnell, sound designer; and Melissa Thurn, costume designer.

Cameron Knight joined the UNCSA faculty in 2018 after a 20-year career acting and directing for stage, television and film, and extensive work in voiceovers and commercials. His stage acting credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Kennedy Center and, Milwaukee Repertory Theater. For film and television, he has apeared in  “Widows” directed by Steve McQueen, “The Orville” on Fox, and “Chicago Med” on NBC. Knight has directed for Notre Dame Shakespeare, DePaul University, Carnegie Mellon University and Bricolage Theatre in Pittsburgh

Previously he was head of the undergraduate acting program at DePaul University. Knight also headed the acting program at ArtsBridge, which provides consulting, workshops and summer intensives for students who hope to audition for college arts programs. Knight also has taught at Carnegie Mellon University, Stella Adler Academy of Arts and Theatre, the University of Delaware, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival, Water works Theatre Company and Flint Youth Theatre. Knight has a B.F.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint and an M.F.A. from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theater Training Program.

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September 17, 2019