By Sheridan Cyr
Dreams, faeries and puzzled mortals are visiting the Hole in the Wall theater in Kelly Mountzoure’s adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. The show will be running for the remainder of July and a few dates in the first week of August.
The cast consists of fine-tuned actors and actresses of all ages, all of whom volunteer countless hours from the month of May to August in order to put on a fantastic, dramatic, endearing and hilarious production for guests of the theater.
Adam Cormier, a student of Educational Theater from Central Connecticut State University, masterfully executes the part Thisbe, as well as the part of a very dramatic Francis Flute. At several points he is seen rolling his eyes and checking out his nails. When Francis Flute speaks, his lines are drawn out and full of an I’d-rather-be-anywhere-else tone. Cormier was enthusiastic about his participation at the theater.
“The Hole in the Wall theater is a completely volunteer theater company. We do it for the applause,” he explained. Cormier discussed some of the challenges of the production. Learning the language of Shakespeare’s time can be difficult, but Cormier had some background in the language. “I majored in English for three years before graduating with a BFA in theater, so I’ve encountered Shakespeare before,” said Cormier. “This version is somewhat edited down, so it’s a lot easier to comprehend.” Cormier also explained that this production had a larger cast than past shows at the theater he has participated in.
Kristen Bennett, a student of English from CCSU, played the part of Mustardseed, one of the sky fairies. She discussed the Shakespearean language, as well. “Seeing as I majored in English in college, I took a few courses on Shakespeare so I’d already been exposed,” said Bennett. “For those who did need help, the production staff was extremely helpful and knowledgeable in the language.” Bennett also discussed the challenge of having a larger cast than past productions. “At first, it was hard to get to know everybody, but as the production went on, we all became close, which was certainly a reward,” she said.
Bennett was thrilled with the “great audiences” the production entertained. “We sold out on ‘Pay What You Can’ night and had to add extra seating, and every night we’ve performed, our audience has laughed! The rewards outweigh the challenges in my opinion,” said Bennett. “Those working on the production don’t get compensated with money, but I do feel like the thrill of performing and making people laugh is payment enough for most, if not, all of us.”
Without giving away the whole plot of the story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fantasy tale in which fairies and other mystical creatures use powers to manipulate mortals into falling in and out of love with each other. In the words of director Mountzoures, “In my mind, the fairy kingdom is a beautiful, alternative universe that comes to life when we mortals are asleep. The lucky ones get to visit this magical place in their dreams. The idea is that the fairies manipulate the mortal works and have control over human destinies.”
The production couldn’t have a more fitting cast. The actors and actresses truly became their assigned characters. Though the stage area was small, the cast made use of every inch, decorating it with forestry as well as a bridge and impromptu slide. The fairies danced from platform to platform while the lights were dimmed and color grew behind the curtains, creating a beautiful, dream-like state. The bridge became a hideout for the fairies at one point, and a sit-in theater at another as they enjoyed popcorn as the mortals battled in front of them.
Whenever Demetrius (played by Paolo Celetano) and Lysander (played by Stephen Lenczewski) met, they never failed to bring the audience to laughter. Their story was the most emotionally-driven conflict of the plot, because both of them were put under spells to make them fall in love with someone while they slept.
In short, Demetrius was spellbound to fall in love with Helena (played by Remony Perlman), who was initially and naturally in love with him. Helena became turned off from Demetrius once he fell in love with her. Lysander, who was naturally in love with Hermia (played by Kristen Parker), was also spellbound to fall in love with Helena, who was most certainly not in love with Lysander. Seeing Lysander fawn over Helena caused Hermia to finally fall in love with Lysander out of jealousy. Helena, so confused and distrusting, loved no one. So, low and behold, Lysander and Demetrius battle over the love of Helena, while the earth fairies who had caused the tension laughed from the bridge and, under the mask of invisibility, occasionally tossed popcorn at the mortals and mocked them as they argued.
The Hole in the Wall theater is unique in nature among other theaters. It all began in a book store called “Hole in the Wall Bookstore,” where its first production, Time of Your Life, was performed in 1972 under the bookstore’s operator and theater’s founder, Paco Robida. The bookstore-turned-theater asked patrons to simply “pay what you can,” a method still in place in the theater.
The theater has seen a number of location changes as it continued to grow both physically and metaphorically. Since the current location opened in March 2006 with Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, over 50 plays have been conducted.
Remaining productions of A Midnight Summer’s Dream will begin at 8 p.m. on July 29th and 30th, and August 5th and 6th. Visit their website at www.HITW.org or call (860) 229-3049 for more information about the production or the theater itself.