Between the Athenians and the Fairies, there are 16 characters in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That doesn’t include members of an acting troupe.
In the adaptation of the play that director John Hardy put together for Duke City Repertory Theatre, there are a total of seven actors covering all the roles.
“At many points in the play, four lovers are on stage at the same time,” said Hardy. “That takes up half the cast.”
Duke City Repertory presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from March 6 through 16 at The Cell Theatre in a production that keeps cast members on the go.
“People have to constantly change costumes,” Hardy added. “There’s as much going on backstage as on stage.”
Hardy acknowledges that it’s a monumental feat to present this play with just seven actors, but says Duke City Rep is up to the task.
“The members of Duke City Rep have skills that go far beyond their years,” said Hardy, a freelance director and actor who directed “Taming of the Shrew” for the company in 2011. “They’re so nervy. They’ll try anything. They challenge me. I would only write an adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for seven actors for a company like Duke City Rep.”
Appearing in the production are Frank Green, Amelia Ampuero, Evening Star Barron, Josh Heard, Ezra Colón, Katie Becker Colón and Lauren Myers.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedic play believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596 that portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens and Hippolyta. The storyline has three interconnecting plots featuring the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors. The forest in which most of the play is set is inhabited by manipulative fairies.
The play is one of seven by Shakespeare that Hardy has adapted for theaters around the country.
“‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ has a sense of urgency in it, so to do it with seven actors emphasizes that urgency,” said Hardy. “I’ve directed the play three times before but with either 13 or 20 actors in it.”
Creating an adaptation is a laborious job, even for a veteran like Hardy. Shakespearean works are particularly challenging.
“The only way to honor Shakespeare is to give attention to every syllable in the play when making an adaptation,” he said. “It’s a tedious process.”
Hardy, who spent last summer performing with the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, is able to approach his directorial duties from an actor’s perspective. “It’s been an unbelievable help to be a Shakespearean actor myself,” he said. “I know what helps and hinders actors and what they need.”