Young and old produced gales of laughter as they watched fairies work magic and lovers stammer in confusion as Shakespeare returned to the Payson stage after a long absence.
The Longhorn Theatre Troupe surmounted the linguistic challenges of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with style. Using an abridged version, the actors spoke the lines with clarity and projection without the help of microphones.
The story centers around two sets of couples — Hermia with Lysander and Helena with Demetrius. The two couples constantly bicker and pine for each other in a madcap dash about the forest.
Confusing the matter, King of the Fairies Oberon and his Queen Tatiana have a lovers’ quarrel that triggers a sequence of misfiring love spells that completely muddle the hapless humans.
Add a dash of misfit wannabe actors and flightish fairies to the mix and the plot line careens out of control.
Director Kathy Siler said she really looked to the students to design the look and feel of the play down to the gels used on the lights to give the stage its color. “Newman Becker designed the set,” she said. “The fairies had to do it (design and build their wings) by themselves.”
The wings about stole the show. Some wings added three feet to the height of the actor. Others sparkled or glowed with luminescence. Some made a bright dash of color on the stage.
Siler said she convinced her friend, Parry Morton, to help advise the students on how to make their wings. Morton makes detailed costumes from leather and other materials.
Siler said the most difficult and time consuming part of the play was teaching the students to work with Shakespeare’s use of the language. Students spent two hours a day in rehearsal for more than two months.
“We had to practice to get the enunciation,” she said.
Ultimately it was a field trip to watch “Taming of the Shrew” in Mesa that brought it all together.
“When they saw how it could be done, everything changed,” she said.
The fun with Shakespeare does not end with this play. Siler said the students will host an English Speaking Union (ESU) Shakespeare contest on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 4 p.m.
“All students need to do is present a sonnet,” said Siler.
For more information, call Payson High School at (928) 474-2233.