It Was All Just a ‘Dream’
By Leobianny Hilario
November 23, 2015
The University at Albany’s own theatre professor, Angela Ledtke, directed “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” this past weekend at The College of Saint Rose. The play ran from Nov. 19 through Nov. 22 and starred students from Saint Rose.
Although it was a small setting, the play itself drew its audience in with its strategic stage lighting and music. The play has four interconnecting plots, in which a celebration is in place of Duke Theseus and the Amozoness Queen, Hippolyta, which is set simultaneously in the forest of the realm Fairyland. The gender-bender and modernized play consists of clipboards instead of scrolls and four men in the entire cast.
“The play is different from any other because it uses modern day props and it is mostly women,” said Ledtke. “It’s really fun trying to create their roles. I was almost tempted to use an iPad, but I didn’t go that far!”
Ledtke splits her teaching time between The College of Saint Rose and UAlbany, where she’s an adjunct professor.
“I am a director of all of the productions at Saint Rose, so I do two shows a year there,” said Ledtke.
The show follows the love story between two couples, Hermia and Lysander, and Helena Demetrius. Hermia is not permitted to marry Lysander because her father wants her to marry Demetrius. If she doesn’t marry Demetrius as her father wishes, she’s faced with the punishment of death. Trying to put on a play for the duke and the queen, Peter Quince and his fellow players planned to act out the comedy and cruelest death of Pyramus and Thisbe.
Nick Bottom, who is played by Lilian Borntraegar, steals the show with her comedic lines and enthusiastic performance. Bottom is supposed to play Pyramus for the wedding, but before the wedding her head transforms into a donkey. Not only does her character gets manipulated, but so did Hermia, Helena, Demetrius and Lysander, who wake up falling in love with the opposite partners’ love interests. They are manipulated by James Alexander, also known as Oberon, with the help of Puck, whose real name is Rhina Allende. Trying to play cupid, Puck accidentally enchants Lysander instead of Demetrius, and the goddess Titania with the donkey-headed Bottom. The play takes a turn for the worst.
In true Shakespearean language, the actors memorize their long-winded lines and give the theater students of Albany a run for their money.
“Because of Saint Rose not having a costume designer, I had to rely on myself, even though I am not a costume designer, especially because I had a situation where the costumes I ordered didn’t come in on time,” said Ledtke. “Other than that, nine weeks ago when we started to tackle the text, we were just trying to get the actors to understand what they are saying even though there was heightened language.”
After sharing her experience as a director and costume designer, Ledtke explored her thoughts over the overall casting choice.
“It’s funny, things have really flipped. First, I was worried about my comedic actors. The mechanicals are the fun part of the play because they are also playing the fairies,” said Ledtke. “I worked a lot with them, and I wasn’t so worried about the lovers, and now those actors have really, really taken shape. And now I realized ‘Oh jeez, I have to go back and look at the lovers again!’”
A play full of laughs, drama, and “dreams,” Ledtke’s version of “A Midsummer Nights Dream” doesn’t fail to deliver its promising show.