‘The Dream’, a modern re-imagining of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, hits Cellar Door this week. The show promises to immerse its audience in a world of electro-swing, dance, film, art and performance, as theatre company ‘dearfever’ collaborate with Art Soc, Dance Soc, Circus Soc, Exeter University’s Big Band as well as Thick As Thieves DJ, Will Wadham. Directors of this ambitious project, Alex Palmer and Sophie Dumont, tell Exeposé Arts more…
We see the name of our company as a direct address to our audience – dearfever as in dear senses. Our productions aim to pull on all your senses and immerse you within a dream-like world where you are free to roam and explore, free to create your own narrative. The oxymoron of the two words comes across in our productions as they usually have two conflicting spaces. In ‘The Dream’ it is the city space of the Revelry and the forest space of Cellar Door.
What inspired ‘The Dream’?
We have always been influenced and excited by the work of Punchdrunk, an immersive theatre company currently working in London and New York. Last summer, Alex was fortunate enough to gain an internship for the company working closely with the directors and production team on their show ‘The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable”. It was a completely new way of working, and we wanted to try it!
Why ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’?
We picked A Midsummer Night’s Dream because it is one of our favorite Shakespearian texts. We knew we wanted something immersive and the text lends itself so well to the ideas of dreams, fantasies and the confusion of love. Excitingly, this is all aided by the intoxication of the nightclub setting.
What challenges have you found in adapting ‘Midsummer’s original script?
The show, by nature, is two and a half hours long, so every character needs that amount of time for their story. So for someone like ‘Titania” or “Theseus” who don’t feature a lot in the story of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, we have had to create a backstory and further scenes. So the hardest part for us as directors has been creating the scenes that Shakespeare doesn’t give us, but we think that makes the show all the more interesting, particularly if you know the play well.
Are there any other ways in which your adaptation differs dramatically from the original production?
We’ve got rid of the stage! The whole of Cellar Door and the Revelry will be used, from the toilets to the bar. Our actors have nowhere to hide as all the action happens in and around the audience. It promises to be a night out with a difference!
Tell us about you as directors.
Alex: I have just finished directing a one-on-one performance of T.S.Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’ which saw my audience led through Exeter using a mobile phone and ending up in a house. Each room in the house held a different experience: from playing chess with a woman, to a confessional speech by someone through a mirror. ‘The Dream’ certainly has a lot of similar qualities to that performance.
Sophie: Apart from devising theatre pierces in a group setting, this is my first experience of directing and I am loving the challenge! As an English student it is an absolute pleasure to adapt and physicalize such an iconic text and we could not have a better cast to do the job! It’s fantastic to work with such a passionate group and work collaboratively to revitalize and create a new backstory for each character.
How are rehearsals going?
They are hectic, as you can imagine. Some members of the cast are multi-rolling and we have had to create other stories for minor character, whilst also allowing for each actor’s own interpretation of ‘Bottom’ or ‘Lysander’ for example. We are working harder than ever now to ensure a stellar performance!
How should the audience approach ‘The Dream’?
Go your own way! If you come in a group, we strongly advise you to break off and explore the spaces on your own. All of the scenes happen simultaneously and you can’t see all of them, some of the scenes are for one audience per night! So don’t be bogged down in the group you have come with, make your own story. Luck favours the brave!
‘The Dream’ is playing from Wednesday 12th- Friday 14th February at Cellar Door at 7:30pm (8pm on Friday). Tickets are £5 and can be bought here: thedream.ticketsource.co.uk
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