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Shakespeare - stuffy, highbrow, intellectual, right?. Not necessarily. Prepare to have your Shakespeare preconceptions rocked when the Australian Shakespeare Company presents this year's edition of Shakespeare Under the Stars."A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Behind the Scenes), will bombard audiences with energy, comedy and agility this summer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.
Glenn Elston, the Australian Shakespeare Company's creative colossus, has taken one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, shaken it by its pantaloons, doublets, and Elizabethan ruffs, and turned it on its fairy-crowned head. Those familiar with the play will know the play-within-a-play scenario. Elston's new adaptation concentrates squarely on Shakespeare's central comic acting troupe, The Mechanicals. The twist here however is that this time they're not confining their acting talents to just Pyramus and Thisbe. They'll be tripping, tangling and generally torturing a wide selection of Shakespeare's other works in their hilarious search for the perfect performance to honour the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens.
You won't have to be familiar with Shakespeare to enjoy this one. In fact it's the perfect introduction for those reluctant to embrace his work. This production has been hailed by critics everywhere, the Bulletin stating, "This is how Shakespeare should be produced, freed from the chains of scholarly respectability." Stuffy and highbrow? Sounds more like a hoot to me. Just as Shakespeare intended in the 1590's.
Australian Shakespeare Company in rehearsals. Image from Australian Shakespeare Company Facebook page.
Venue: Melbourne Botanic Gardens (Gate F, Birdwood Avenue) Dates: 20 December 2011 to 10 March 2012. Days: Tuesdays to Sunday in December and January; Tuesdays to Saturdays in February and March. Time: 8pm start. Performance runs for 2 1/2 hours. Cost: Sunday to Thursday: Adults $35, Concessions $30, Children aged 5 to 15 $25
Friday, Saturday and Valentines Day: Adults $40, Concession $35, Children aged 5 to 15 $25 Tickets: Purchase your tickets through the Australian Shakespeare Company here or phone 1300 122 344. Also available through Ticketmaster here. BYO: Blanket, cushions or low chairs. A cash only onsite bar will sell snacks and hot, cold and alcoholic refreshments.
Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing by William Blake c.1786
You may not be aware that the Australian Shakespeare Company is Australia's largest independent theatre company and is a not-for-profit charity. While best known for its outdoor performances of Shakespeare and The Wind in the Willows, the company also tours works to metropolitan, regional and remote locations, bringing the delights of Shakespeare to a wide audience. You can support their work by making a donation here.
Come along for the riotous, rollicking ride that is Shakespeare Under the Stars - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Behind the Scenes.