Welcome to the Bayou!
One of the most wonderful things about Shakespeare is the ability to change the setting and time period of his plays, while still being able to capture the humanity and rich characters that Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago. For this production, we are transported to New Orleans in the 1920’s, when jazz music really became part of the landscape of the city and the mystic history of the streets was tangible.
Our story starts with Athena, the Duchess of New Orleans. She’s won the battle against the Amazons, and is taking the unwilling Hippolo for her husband. While the two prepare for their nuptials, Egeus, a wealthy townsman, comes to complain of his daughter Hermia. He desires for her to marry a young man named Demetrius, but she loves Lysander. Lysander and Hermia decide to run away together and they tell Helena, a longtime friend, of their plan. Helena, who has unrequited love for Demetrius, tries to win his favor by telling him of Lysander and Hermia’s flight.
Meanwhile, in the Bayou, there is trouble brewing amongst the voodoo witch doctors. King Oberon is angry with the queen, Titania, for refusing to give up a child she has adopted. This trouble causes him to devise a plan that involves a magic potion, and results in Titania falling in love with a dopey donkey. Oberon uses his trusty sidekicks, the Pucks to assist him with his deviousness. While in the forest, Oberon witnesses Helena pleading with Demetrius to be with her, and takes pity on her, telling the Pucks to use the love potion on Demetrius as well. Instead, the Pucks mistakenly drop the potion into Lysander’s eyes, resulting in mistaken love and a plethora of drama.
In celebration of Athena’s wedding, a band of working class Southerners are putting together a play. Their production, “Pyramus and Thisby”, will be lead by Nick Bottom, an overly excited young man that wants to hijack every part. They take their rehearsal to the woods/Bayou, where the Pucks find humor in Bottom’s performance. They transform him into a donkey that happens to wake the sleeping Titania.
Will Oberon ever release Titania from loving a donkey? Will Hermia and Helena ever find their happy ending? It’s a comedy, so we can assume everything ends up alright in the end, but the magic is in the journey.