A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
acted in Luxembourgish, German and English
with choral selections in French
11, 12, 13 and 14 July 2007
at the Schungfabrik, Tétange
DREAM2007 was a multilingual theatrical project supported by
Luxembourg et grande région – Capitale européenne de la culture 2007
Ce projet est réalisé dans le cadre de Luxembourg et Grande Région,
Capitale européenne de la Culture 2007, sous le Haut Patronage de leurs Altesses Royales le Grand Duc et la Grande Duchesse
Lëtzebuergesch scenes translated by Jean Schmit
German scenes translated by August Wilhelm Schlegel
|THESEUS, Duke of Athens
||Pierre-Yves Lanneau Saint Léger
|HIPPOLYTA, Theseus’ bride
|EGEUS, a nobleman
|HERMIA, Egeus’ daughter; in love with Lysander
|LYSANDER, a young nobleman, in love with Hermia
|DEMETRIUS, another young nobleman, engaged to Hermia
|HELENA, a young noblewoman, in love with Demetrius
|PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Revels
QUITT, a carpenter – plays the Prologue in Act 5
|(QUINCE) Christiane Feinen-Thibold
|HENNER, a weaver – plays Pyramus in Act 5
||(BOTTOM) Jean Schmit
|FLÜTT, a bellows-mender – plays Thisbe in Act 5
||(FLUTE) Luc Spada
|SCHNAUZ, a tinker – plays the Wall in Act5
||(SNOUT) Beverley Atkinson
|KAMMOUD, a joiner – plays the Lion in Act 5
|| (SNUG) Chris Albrecht
|SCHLÉCKERT, a tailor – plays Moonshine in Act 5
|| (STARVELING) Tycho Eichstadt
|OBERON, King of the Fairies
|TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies
|PUCK, a mischievous spirit serving Oberon
|1st FAIRY / COBWEB
|Other FAIRIES attending OBERON and TITANIA
||Claire Albrecht, Melanie Schweich, Pierre-Yves Lanneau Saint Léger, Roma Browne, Valérie Reding
Director: Julia Pruy
Antoinette Welter, Barbara Hall, Beverley Atkinson, Chris Albrecht, Christiane Feinen-Thibold, June Lowery, Mick Swithinbank, Sandra Johnson, Steve Anderson, Tadeja Severkar
Director: Julia Pruy
Anne Bihorel (bassoon), Jacqueline Fleming (keyboard), Luc Gilbertz (percussion), Peter Smets (flute)
||June Lowery, Matthew Swithinbank
|Costume design (fairies)
|Costume supervision (humans)
|German media coordination
||European Commission Office for Infrastructure and Logistics, Luxembourg and NAMSA
|Original music composition
|Print, website and music production
|Budget, publicity and sponsor coordination
Le Songe d'une nuit d'été
Dans une Athènes de fantaisie, le duc Thésée s'apprête à épouser Hippolyta, la reine des Amazones, qu'il vient de vaincre à la guerre. Arrivent alors des jeunes gens piégés par un inextricable problème amoureux. Hermia a deux soupirants : Lysandre, qu'elle aime, et Démétrius, que son père lui a choisi comme époux. Cependant, Démétrius est toujours aimé par son ancienne flamme, Héléna. Tout bascule lorsqu'à la faveur de la nuit, Hermia et Lysandre se sauvent dans la forêt afin de se marier hors des limites d'Athènes. Averti par Héléna, Démétrius se lance à leur poursuite, flanqué, bien malgré lui, de son ancienne amante. Mais la forêt obscure est non seulement hantée, elle est cette nuit-là le théâtre d'une terrible querelle entre Obéron et Titania, le roi et la reine des fées. Et, de plus, une joyeuse bande d'ouvriers, qui préparent une pièce de théâtre à l'occasion des noces du duc, ont choisi la forêt pour répéter en paix. Tout ce beau monde vivrait ses divers petits problèmes sans se mêler les uns aux autres si ce n'était de Puck, un malicieux esprit des bois qui, grâce à une fleur magique, se met à réorienter à sa fantaisie les désirs de tout le monde.
Der Feenkönig Oberon und seine Gattin zürnen miteinander, leben voneinander getrennt, aber doch in ein und demselben Wald in der Nähe von Athen. In diesen Wald kommen zwei Liebespaare: Helena, die den Demetrius, Demetrius, der die Hermia, Hermia, die den Lysander, Lysander, der die Helena liebt. Oberon erbarmt sich der Liebenden und lässt durch einen Diener Puck - nachdem dieser durch Schelmerei zuerst das Blatt gewendet und neue Verwirrungen angerichtet - durch einen Zaubersaft das Gleichgewicht herstellen. Um diese Zeit soll auch am Hofe von Athen die Hochzeit des Theseus mit Hippolyta gefeiert werden. Der Handwerker Henner (Bottom, Zettel) kommt mit einigen Gesinnungsgenossen in den Wald, um ein Festspiel zu probieren, das bei der Hochzeitsfeier aufgeführt werden soll. Puck vertreibt die Handwerker. Oberon benützt aber den einfältigen Henner, seiner Gemahlin einen Streich zu spielen. Er lässt auf Titanias Augen von dem Liebeszaubersaft tröpfeln, und so hält die Feenkönigin den mit einem Eselskopf versehenen Henner für einen Liebesgott. Schließlich löst Oberons Lilienstab alle Verwicklungen und Zaubereien. Theseus' Hochzeit wird gefeiert, die Handwerker führen ihre groteske Tragikomödie von Pyramus und Thisbe auf. Demetrius erhält Helena, Hermia den Lysander und Oberon selbst feiert mit Titania seine Versöhnung.
THE STRUCTURE, DEVELOPMENT PROCESS AND THEMES OF A MULTILINGUAL PERFORMANCE
executed in three linked stages throughout 2007
Stage 1:January to April 2007:
The official opening of the project, held at the Château de Bettembourg during the weekend of 20 and 21 January 2007, featured introductory "taster" presentations of the work of the acting, dance and gymnastics/acrobatics workshops by the workshop leaders: Tony Kingston (Artistic Director and adult acting coordinator), Bob Braun (gymnastics), Caroline Cooper (dance) and Christine Probst and Christine Mitchell (youth theatre improvisation). This was preceded and followed by the first song workshop, led by Julia Pruy of INECC (https://www.inecc.lu/) and the University of Luxembourg (https://www.uni.lu/) and culminating in an end-of-weekend concert.
The opening workshop and official opening event were well attended and highly successful, with large numbers of participants signing up for the five subsequent Theatre Skills Workshops: acting, dance, song, gymnastics/acrobatics and youth improvisation. The subsequent series of workshops was held in four languages and at a variety of locations in the grande région. To showcase the skills learnt by the 50 or more participants from 15 countries, a “mini-festival” of their creative work was held in Sandweiler on 20 and 21 April 2007 in two Workshop Shows consisting of theatre sketches, songs from Shakespeare and his contemporaries, modern dance and acrobatics. Blending ideas and languages, the shows were an entertaining exploration of the key ingredients of Shakespeare’s masterpiece: love, passion, magic and personal transformation.
Stage 2: May to July 2007: The rehearsals and performances of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, using four languages and original music and based on work done in Stage 1. See above for full details and how to book.
Stage 3: Autumn 2007: Further performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in venues within the grande région, accompanied by visits to school and university classes with scenes from the play, to bring awareness and interest in the production to as wide an audience as possible throughout the area.
General themes of each stage
A. Theatre Skills Workshops at key locations throughout the grande région
The NWTC coordinated and managed a series of workshops focusing on four main areas of theatrical skills: acting (adult and youth); gymnastics; song; and dance. The workshops were led by the Director of the main production and other Assistant Directors in dance, song, gymnastics/acrobatic skills and youth theatre improvisation. The workshops were held in conjunction with (or even co-organised by) local theatre, dance, song and movement groups in Luxembourg and the areas of the grande région and were held, as far as possible, in German, French, English, Lëtzebuergesch and other languages.
The workshops aimed to develop the specific skills named in the course. The courses concluded with the presentation of pieces of work at a Workshop Show mini-festival in April 2007 (see above), related to the themes of Shakespeare’s play and using the skills developed. Most workshops ran for 10-12 sessions; the song workshops began on the official opening weekend of 20 and 21 January 2007 and continued throughout February, March and April.
B. Rehearsals and performance of a multilingual A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Luxembourg
In April 2007 the Artistic Director, with the Assistant Directors specialising in dance, song, gymnastics and youth theatre improvisation, assembled a cast of performers willing to participate in a bigger production, most of whom had taken part in the workshops. Efforts were made to accommodate as many of the workshop participants as possible, within the limitations of the piece itself. The director and assistant directors are now rehearsing the performers for a period of approximately two and a half months (this length of time is needed because most performers are voluntary or amateur).
The end result is a multi-language production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the main character groups speaking German, Lëtzebuergesch and English (with songs and other vocal music performed in French wherever possible). The aim is to show that audiences and performers can reach a common understanding and mutual co-operation, even though they are not necessarily working in a single language, reflecting the themes of European/national integration and the role of the immigrant in society.
The performance style incorporates gymnastic skills, dance and music as well as the spoken word of the text. The show will run initially for 4 performances on 11, 12, 13 and 14 July 2007, followed by a revival in the autumn in conjunction with phase C.
C. Taking scenes and aspects of the play to schools and universities in the grande région
While the main production is running, and during a possible revival of the piece in Autumn 2007, the Director, or one of the Assistant Directors, along with some members of the cast, will offer schools and universities the possibility of taking scenes to classes which may be studying theatre, Shakespeare, English, European culture, or any related subject. These visits will consist of a general introduction to the play by the director and will be illustrated by the performances of a scene or scenes to the class. If time permits this will be followed by an open discussion between the class and the visiting performers, or even a workshop in which the director and actors will work on scenes from the play with the classes.
The aim of these class visits is to bring the show to a wider audience within the grande région, to encourage interest in theatre and a love of Shakespeare, and to raise awareness of the New World Theatre Club.
Why A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
A brief synopsis of the play & themes
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s best-known and best-loved plays. The play deals with the romantic interactions of three distinct groups of characters:
A. The aristocrats of the royal court of Duke Theseus in Athens
B. The working men who represent the crafts and guilds of Athens (the Artisans)
C. The mystical and magical fairies, ruled by Oberon, who inhabit the forest outside Athens
Through the meetings, conflicts and reconciliation of these characters we are shown both a complex web of personal love relationships and a bigger picture of different races overcoming their mutual suspicions to accept co-habitation of a single world.
As the play opens, the people of Athens are preparing for the Royal marriage of King Theseus and his bride Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. This marriage, which represents the union of two races, is to be celebrated by festivities including the performance of a play by the working folk of the city. This apparent harmony in the human world is contrasted with the discord of the fairy world in the forest outside the city, where Oberon and his Queen Titania have separated and have divided loyalties within the fairy world.
The human and fairy worlds are brought together when four young lovers from the royal court flee into the forest to escape the restrictions of their parents and become accidentally caught up in Oberon’s plot to win back Titania’s love by using a magic potion. The lovers' emotions are twisted by fairy magic and they fall in love with the wrong partners. At the same time the Artisans also go into the forest to rehearse their play in secret. They are frightened by the spirits of the forest and become separated. One of them, Nick Bottom, also becomes caught up in Oberon’s plot and becomes the unwitting victim of a vicious practical joke. His head is turned into an ass's head and he becomes, briefly, Titania’s lover.
At this point we can see the uneasy and chaotic mix of three distinct groups of people and the sense of loss and confusion of the human strangers in the forest. This reflects the sense of disorientation often felt by immigrants to a new land. In the end Oberon uses his magic to reconcile the lovers, repair his own marriage, and return the strangers safely to their homes. He then seals his union with the human world by blessing the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta at the marriage feast. His blessing demonstrates the way that the different worlds (human and spirit) can co-exist in harmony while keeping their distinct identities: separate races integrated in a single union.
Realisation of the themes in performance
The performers of the piece will be drawn largely from those people who take part in the Workshop stage (see details in Part 2.1) according to the specific theatre skills they have been introduced to and their languages.
To differentiate the three different worlds of the play, the performers will use different languages of the Grande région according to the characters they are playing: the Aristocrats will speak German, the Artisans will perform in Lëtzebuergesch, and the Fairies/Spirits in English. Over and above this the songs in the play, which are used to convey the magic and to bring harmony at the end of the play, will probably be sung in French, quite literally the lingua franca of the region. The aim of this is to explore and demonstrate the idea that mutual understanding and harmony can be achieved between individuals and societies even if a common language does not exist between them. (This deliberately pays homage to the work of the Paris-based English director Peter Brooke, who has spent the last 30 years experimenting with the concepts of multilingual theatre, embracing a world-wide tableau of languages in his work.) A multilingual text of the play has been compiled in German, English and Luxembourgish (the latter Jean Schmit's new translation); songs in French will be added at a later stage.
2. The use of movement & dance, circus skills, music and song
The specific theatrical skills introduced in the workshops would be incorporated in the main production in the following ways:
For the differentiation of the character groups to work, it is important that they are distinguished visually as well as vocally from one another. This is especially important for the fairy/spirit characters, who must appear and behave differently and be clearly “other-worldly” both to the audience and to the “human” characters. It is important that this element is believable in order to emphasise the sense of “foreignness” between the different groups on the stage. Costume and make-up can help this, but it is also important that the “magic” of these characters is represented by an active visual medium. These fairies move in a particularly mannered or “balletic” way (as focused by the dance and movement workshops) and using some gymnastic skills: sliding down or climbing up ropes; swinging on bars, basic athletic movements such as back-flips, cartwheels, somersaults, etc. (Exactly which techniques are used will be at the discretion of the gymnastic director in agreement with the artistic director and will naturally depend on the time available, the level of the abilities of the participants and the final set design.) It is important that these effects are integrated with the acting, not regarded as separate spectacles. For example, Oberon could be talking to Puck while descending on a rope; or Puck could describe his powers to the First Fairy while doing cartwheels through the audience, as if these are quite natural, everyday events in the spirit world. The overall effect should be of a display of visual prowess which suggests that the actors are very skilful (even if the movements and actions themselves are relatively simple). The magic should lie in the audience’s suspension of disbelief and their awareness that they are watching skilled and specialised tricks.
By contrast, the humans of the court should move and speak in a very natural, even modern manner which is entirely recognisable to the audience. The Artisans may use some slapstick or clowning techniques picked up from the workshops to emphasise their role as the earthy comic relief.
Music and song, as mentioned in the “language” note, will have a varied role in the piece. Songs are specifically included in the text, sung by the fairies and also by the human characters at the wedding celebration at the end. Voices, singing chords, chanting in harmony or discord, and/or performing other songs of the period, where possible in French, will be used to create the atmosphere of magic and to underscore some of the spoken poetry in the text at key moments (this is a technique the director has already used to considerable effect in a 1997 Berlin production of The Tempest). Original music has been written specially for the production by Luxembourg resident musician and composer Kerry Turner (see below). The music should be the binding force which unifies the different types of characters and overcomes their antagonisms. (NB: The play ends on a “song and dance” led by Oberon to celebrate the human wedding.)
Dances are specifically required by the text for both the fairies and the humans during the show and will be choreographed by the dance/movement director using material from the relevant workshops. As mentioned, dance elements can be used in the movement of the fairies to distinguish them from the humans, and even by the human lovers in the forest when they are entranced by the fairies to suggest that they have come under the spell of this other world.
Management Committee: Chris Albrecht, Steve Anderson, Barbara Hall, June Lowery
Artistic Director and adult acting workshop leader: Tony Kingston
Workshop leaders/assistant directors: Bob Braun (gymnastics); Caroline Cooper (dance); Julia Pruy (song); Christine Probst and Christine Mitchell (youth theatre improvisation)
The original music for the productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream is composed by Luxembourg resident musician and composer Kerry Turner (https://www.kerryturner.com/)