The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company will close its 20th anniversary season with the popular comedy that opened its first season.
Performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” begin at 8 p.m. July 15 through 17, July 22 through 24, and July 29 through 31 in Kingsmen Park on the Thousand Oaks campus of California Lutheran University. The festival grounds open at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking and entertainment.
Brett Elliott, the company’s associate artistic director, directs. As a young actor, Elliott played Lysander in the festival’s first production of the play in 1997. While reprising the role for the company’s 10th festival in 2006, Elliott proposed to his wife, Jane, who was playing opposite him in the role of Hermia. Elliott used only the lines of Shakespeare, and neither he nor Jane stopped the scene or broke character. He did add a single prop – a real diamond ring.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” follows the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, the mechanicals, who are all controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set.
Elliott set the production in a world reminiscent of the British Raj in India at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution because he has long been struck by several references to the Indian subcontinent in the play. According to Elliott, the setting is “a place where the logic and technology of the West rubs against the art and spirit of the East, where the ancient mingles with the modern, where love crosses all boundaries, and where all who enter the forest emerge changed.” Resident composer Christopher Hoag has created an Indian-based score.
Stepping into the roles of Lysander and Hermia are Cal Lutheran alumnus Seta Wainiqolo, a graduate student at Yale School of Drama, and Angela Gulner, a graduate of the American Repertory Theater Institute at Harvard University who played Viola two years ago in the company’s production of “Twelfth Night.”
Company newcomer Nawal Bengholam will play Titania. Ty Mayberry, last seen as Hamlet in 2013, will play Oberon. His two young sons, Lucas and Leo Mayberry, will make their stage debut as Changelings. Other returning Kingsmen veterans include Andy Babinski as Philostrate, Michael Faulkner as Theseus, Ross Hellwig as Demetrius, Robert Nairn as Starveling, Jason D. Rennie as Puck, Marc Silver as Bottom and John Slade as Quince.
The Kingsmen Shakespeare Company is the professional theater company of Cal Lutheran.
General admission is $20 for adults and free for children under 18. Individual tickets are available at the door only. For lawn box reservations, visit kingsmenshakespeare.org or call 805-493-3452.