AC Conservatory students will stage steampunk version of 'Midsummer Night's Dream'
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Student actors at Amarillo College Conservatory Theatre will reach a milestone with their latest production.
A 24-member cast of students ages 6 to 18 will perform William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream at 7:30 p.m. March 2 and 3 and 2:30 p.m. March 4 at AC's Ordway Auditorium on the Washington Street campus.
It's the first time the conservatory, which offers young actors professional training, has staged a play by Shakespeare, broadly considered the greatest playwright in the English language.
"The kids are ready," said director Jayme McBride. "They need a challenge."
Midsummer tells, essentially, three stories in one: The young lovers (Helena, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander) and their complicated courtship; the fairies (including Puck, Queen Titania and King Oberon) and their delight in messing with the lives of mortals who have wandered into their woods; and the rude mechanicals, or actors, who plan to stage a play to celebrate the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta.
McBride's interpretation, taking inspiration from the Art Deco design of Ordway Auditorium, puts the characters in steampunk attire, with goggles, chains and even gears in the fairy wings.
"It's great," said senior Sean Reneau, who plays Lysander. "It's very ..."
"Challenging," said sophomore Jeremy Hernandez, who plays Demetrius.
"But in a good way," finished sophomore Ashley Jenkins, who plays Helena.
"It's easier than I thought it would be," continued Reneau, "because we've got a great cast and have great chemistry together."
Chemistry is one thing. Delivering Shakesperean dialogue in a naturalistic method is something else completely.
"It's very difficult," said freshman Cadence Lowery-Hart, who plays Hermia. "You have to go in depth and research your character to know what they are saying."
That's what McBride called "a higher level of interpretation."
"When you do something in modern language, it's not hard for them to interpret," she said. "Here, sometimes you have to break it down word by word. They're starting to catch on and do it on their own, which is really neat.
"What's amazing to me about these kids," she continued, "is that they'll have done this in five weeks. To do that with this show blows me away. That's commitment."
Tickets are $12. Call 806-371-5909.