News Article

Preview: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

11 Jan 24


Miriam Nice previews her production of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays.

What inspired you to direct this play?

I’m still very new to directing (absolutely loving every moment), this is only my second play as director and I’m still so in awe of groups like SLT and The Magdalene Players (where I directed previously).

 

Everyone gives their time and energy to create wonderful theatre. I am so impressed by the level of commitment and skill that members of these groups bring and I wanted to celebrate that.

 

I really wanted to show the context and the world around the mechanicals and their amateur dramatics effort, so the audience can see the work they put in to create something for others to enjoy.

 

Cast rehearsing for A Midsummer Night's Dream

What are the challenges and opportunities when putting on such a well loved play?

Working on a Shakespeare play has certain difficulties. Not only does everyone have an idea in their mind about how it should be and what it means, but it’s written in such a way that you can feel constrained by the text.

 

There’s so much in a Shakespeare play. It’s not just a story, each word feels like it has been chosen deliberately and each line constructed to fit a specific rhyme or a rhythm. I’ve said a few times that with such a structure it doesn’t feel like I’m directing it alone, rather that Shakespeare got there before me and left a bunch of notes hidden in the text that I have to decipher and follow.

 

That said, when an idea strikes and it aligns well with the text then that really is exciting and feels wonderfully collaborative, even if my co-collaborator died over 350 years before I was born.

 

Talking of collaborators, I have really lucked-out with this cast! All wonderful human beings; hardworking, focused, supportive and talented. I actually hope February comes around really slowly because I don’t want to stop working with them!

 

Working on a Shakespeare play has certain difficulties. Not only does everyone have an idea in their mind about how it should be and what it means but it's written in such a way that you can feel constrained by the text. There's so much in a Shakespeare play - it's not just a story but each word feels like it has been chosen deliberately and each line constructed to fit a specific rhyme or a rhythm. I've said a few times that with such a structure it doesn't feel like I'm directing it alone, rather that Shakespeare got there before me and left a bunch of notes hidden in the text that I have to decipher and follow. That said, when an idea strikes and it aligns well with the text then that really is exciting and feels wonderfully collaborative, even if my co-collaborator died over 350 years before I was born. Talking of collaborators, I have really lucked-out with this cast! All wonderful human beings, hardworking, focused, supportive and talented. I actually hope February comes around really slowly because I don't want to stop working with them!

You've said this production will be visually modern, what will that look like on stage?

I don’t want to give too much away, but hopefully there will be scenarios and places that will feel familiar: fancy shops, Zoom calls, train station, and private member’s clubs.

 

The cast will be speaking the classic text so I haven’t modernised the words, but I think the juxtaposition works really well and shows how relevant the themes are today.

 

I would ask that you come with an open mind. Try to put aside what you think you know about this play and see this new, modern story with fresh eyes – it might surprise you.

 

Cast rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

That respect and influence should be earned through kindness, hard work and love; not just from affluence and having power over others.

 

We will get to see some unkind things that over-privileged and under-occupied people could be capable of, so perhaps these are people we should listen to less?

 

I hope people continue to support places like SLT. I’m sure there are others who would prefer it turned into luxury flats, but it’s a magical thing that we should hold on to. I’d love it if people felt driven to make more art just for the sake of it.

Can you sum up the play in three words?

A dream team!

A Midsummer Night's Dream runs 20-24 February at South London Theatre