Performing a William Shakespeare piece is not for the faint of heart.
However, a group of thespians at Lee’s Summit West High School are up to the challenge.
The school’s West Side Stage troupe will premiere Oct. 4 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and judging by dress rehearsals for the event, cast and crew are primed for their first foray into the legendary playwright’s work.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” revolves around the adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors and their interactions with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. The story takes place in mid-summer and is a farce featuring Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius. Their romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where Oberon, the King of the Fairies and his Queen, Titania, preside along with Puck who is full of mischief and tricks. Other visitors to the enchanted forest include Bottom the Weaver and his friends.
The play will run at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4, 5 and 12 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 6 and 13.
“Thank God, we have a script that on the right side we have the modern text so we know what we’re saying,” said one-year West Side Stage veteran and junior Haley Johnson, who plays the role of Titania. “Thank God. At first I thought it was very challenging, but as I went through I actually learned to love it. I think it’s an awesome opportunity for a high school to do Shakespeare, being the master that he is. I think it’s so awesome because it’s educational as well.”
Senior Matthew Deardorff, a veteran of at least six plays at West, said nerves may be par for the course for some, but he feels at ease with preparations for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“No, I’m not nervous,” Deardorff said. “I don’t usually get nervous. I’ve never done Shakespeare before, but it’s so unlike any other play we’ve put on here, but it’s so much more fun, I think. But, it’s also more difficult and more work to do.
“We got our scripts last year and we’ve had all summer to learn them – I don’t know how many people actually learned them over the summer, but we came in and had to memorize all of our lines within the first two weeks of school. We just immediately jumped into it. It was so much fun learning what we were actually saying and figuring out how we were going to make this thing come to life. I love what we are doing with it.”
For Brad Rackers, theater director for West Side Stage and a theater instructor at the school, the play is the first time that he has a chance to direct a Shakespeare play.
“I’ve been directing for 10 years so this is my opportunity to direct Shakespeare for the first time,” Rackers said. “It’s a fun show, it’s lighthearted; it’s good for the kids to have that experience doing Shakespeare. We haven’t done it here for awhile, but it’s a show that they can relate to and understand.
“Plus, it’s good for an audience. It’s funny, and there is magic and it doesn’t last too long, so that’s always good. It’s just a great show for them to get behind Shakespeare without it being impossible.”
Cast and crew for the production number close to 50 and by most accounts, West Side Stage is ready for its Shakespearian debut.
“The costumes are awesome,” Deardorff said. “We have been working on them the whole summer, also. They just feel awesome and they look awesome. They look like something that would be in a professional show.”
“The show opens Friday and I am so excited,” added Johnson.
Rackers said: “It’s very fast to get a show together this quickly during the year, but the kids are really stepping up and getting it done. It’s exciting.”