Society puts the 60s into Shakespeare

Maple Ridge production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will have
1960's theme.

Colleen Flanagan/The News From left

Colleen Flanagan/The News From left

The Emerald Pig Theatrical Society is bringing the 1960s to Shakespeare in their upcoming performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius for the Bard on the Bandstand, in Memorial Peace Park, where, according to the famous 5th Dimension song, peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars.

Hermia is in love with Lysander, although her father wants her to marry Demetrius. When Hermia and Lysander elope and run into the woods together, they are pursued by Demetrius, who in turn, is followed by Helena, who is in love with him.

However, in the woods there is a band of fairies including the king Oberon, his queen Titania and servant Puck.

Puck is instructed by Oberon to acquire the juice of a magic flower to spread on a sleeping person’s eyelids to make them fall in love with the first person they see upon waking. He directs Puck to spread the juice on Demetruis’s eyelids after seeing him act cruelly towards Helena. However, Puck comes across Lysander instead, who wakes up to see Helena and falls deeply in love with her.

The love quadrangle becomes complicated with both men in love with Helena, who believes they are mocking her, a jealous Hermia and Puck comically trying to undo his mistake.

“It’s really cool to go back to the (19)60s,” said Jenni Rempel who plays the role of Helena.

Rempel, along with Josh Osborne, who plays the role of Lysander, enjoyed learning about the era their parents grew up in, especially the music.

Music from the year 1967 will be featured in the production.

Osborne, a trained classical pianist, will be playing Cherish by The Association.

“It’s definitely a new style. I haven’t done much pop from any era, so it’s a nice challenge to take on something that I haven’t experienced before. I’ve never had to sing and play at the same time. (Sergei) Rachmaninoff is not known for his lyrics,” laughed Osborne.

“There are a lot of issues represented in the play,” said Rempel.

“We’ve got the army and Vietnam and a modern love triangle. Things that still apply today to a lot of people,” she said.

She found it interesting to revisit the history of women’s rights.

“There was a time when women didn’t even have the ability to vote or anything. In the play, there’s a part where this girl is having her fate decided by her father and he gets to make all her decisions for her. It’s strange for us to think about that in modern times because most people in Maple Ridge don’t face a lot of issues like that,” said Rempel.

This is the first Shakespearean play for both actors.

Osborne, whose background is in musical theatre, says the challenge when performing Shakespeare is getting the audience to relate to topics that were written about so long ago.

“Even though the lines are the same, what we think about them has changed,” explained Osborne.

“So we have to bring a modern take on them and make the audience understand where we are coming from with our actions, gestures and facial expressions,” said the actor.

“I think it’s really great to appreciate the past eras,” Rempel added, saying that she hopes families come out to share in the inter generational spirit.

• A Midsummer Night’s Dream is being performed July 14-16 at Spirit Square in Pitt Meadows and July 21-23 at the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge.

The pre-show entertainment starts at 6:30 p.m. with the show starting 8 p.m., each night.

It is a free event by donation to the Friends in Need Food Bank.

For more info, go to emeraldpig.ca.