GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – William Shakespeare’s plays have been interpreted exactly one zillion ways.
One of the new zillionths is due to the coronavirus COVID-19 and its impact on the Green Bay theater scene.
Along with myriad cities around the world, Green Bay has its share of Shakespearean actors, amateur to expert.
One of the experts is imbedded in a fluke of a project caused by the throttling grasp of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The producing entity is apologetic about the project – a video version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – created in homes, fields and yards in the Green Bay area. Yes, the thing is makeshift and make-do.
On the other hand, the production speaks volumes about the power of Shakespeare that makes theatrical people want to dive into his stories and characters. The production also speaks volumes about the gene in theater people that triggers adventure.
What is it about Shakespeare?
What is it about that gene?
Whatever your answer, the local Play-by-Play Theatre tapped into the mystique to come up with a video that’s available at https://www.playbyplaytheatre.org/current-season.
The play is tricky enough in the first place. Twenty actors tell a loopy tale of love and fairies and an off-the-wall theatrical troupe and, of course, confusion.
The video is Play-by-Play Theatre’s second shot at “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The first was last summer, when a real, live outdoor performance attracted an estimated 1,200 people to Whitney Park in downtown Green Bay.
A repeat performance was scheduled this summer, on June 28, with much the same cast. That did not happen: COVID-19.
The cancellation “prodded us at Play-by-Play to think of a creative alternative to still bring this show to Green Bay while keeping everyone safe,” Mary Ehlinger, artistic director and co-founder, said at the time.
The video introduction explains what transpired.
“Embracing our current way of life, this production includes: zoom meetings, mask wearing, physical distancing where possible, and no physical contact between actors.
“Armed with a small budget, minimal virtual rehearsal time, and no microphones save for one boom, the following was filmed in real time as if it were a live performance.
“It is not a picture-perfect movie, it is the essence of theatre – raw, immersive, and collaborative.
The project is sponsored by Downtown Green Bay and Olde Main Street, Inc.
Filming is by Cyclops Girl Productions, LLC (of Jocelyne Berumen).
The project is credited as a Virtual Theatre in the Park Production.
The video opens with split-screen appearances of some actors in home locations. They react as though they are in the same location. Some actors read their lines, and some appear to have them memorized.
All of the actors have acted before. They know what-for. A standout is Carolyn Silverberg, an expert, whose luster leaps from the screen.
The actors are familiar from many area troupes. This is not all, but represented are Play-by-Play Theatre, Evergreen Productions, Green Bay Community Theatre, St. Norbert College Theatre, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Theatre, The Forst Inn Arts Collective, Box in the Wood Theatre Guild, Birder Players, Abrams Spotlight Productions and ComedyCity.
Soon in the video, scenes are performed in outdoor locations. Some are in remote areas.
The video has a let’s-put-on-a-show quality – a for-the-fun-of-it feel.
The last time there was a COVID-19 like this is never. The last time there was a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” like this in Green Bay is never.
The thing is not “a picture-perfect movie” but something.
Cast in order of appearance
Theseus, Duke of Athens – Will Knaapen
Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons – Sallie Puckett
Egeus, father to Hermia – Parker Drew
Hermia, in love with Lysande – Haley Ebinal
Lysander, in love with Hermia – Ian Wisnewski
Demetrius, suitor to Hermia – Andrew Delaurelle
Helena, in love with Demetrius – Carolyn Silverberg
The Mechanicals (aka the Essential Workers)
Peter Quince – Teresa Aportella Sergott
Nick Bottom – Brandon Ponschock
Snout – Mike Eserkaln
Snug – Madeleine Major
Starveling – Preston Pelefrin
Flute – John Berens
Oberon, King of the Fairies – Eric D. Westphal
Titania, Queen of the Fairies – Katie Guzek
Robin Goodfellow, a Puck – Dana Cordry
Mustardseed/Soloist – Sarah Doyle
Peaseblossom – Maggie Dernehl
Cobweb – Katie Schroeder
Moth – Maggie Monte
Special appearance by Winston Jolly as Moonshine’s Dog
Creative and production team
Director – Carolyn Silverberg
Stage manager – Elizabeth Jolly
Costumes/hair and make-up – Debra Jolly, Elizabeth Jolly
Fairy song composer/artistic director – Mary Ehlinger
Choreographer – Debra Jolly
Boom mic operator – Molly Lucareli
Filming – Cyclops Girl Productions, LLC
Editing – Jocelyne Berumen and Carolyn Silverberg