The plays of William Shakespeare have been performed so many times in the more than 400 years since he did his writing that one mustn’t just consider the story, but how to tell that story.
Emily Van Fleet, director of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — the second show in the 2020 Black Box Repertory Season at the Arvada Center — decided to frame her telling with a creative twist.
“The framework for this production is a run-down, dilapidated playground. One might deduce from the set and costumes that we’re possibly in a futuristic world that has fallen apart and gone into disarray,” Van Fleet explained. “There’s eight actors who gather a crowd and perform the show with found objects. And we have all of Shakespeare’s brilliance within this framework.”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs at the center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., through May 16. Performances are at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, the show blends human romance with the fantastical realm of the fairies, for a story that hilariously points out how ridiculous matters of the heart often are. Some of his best characters inhabit the play, and all eight actors each take on multiple roles.
“I’m always looking for more roles for women in Shakespeare’s work, so we get to do some genderbending in the show,” Van Fleet said. “Since this is a small troupe of actors, each takes whichever roles are available.”
The production is the Denver-area directing debut for Van Fleet, but as someone who will be very familiar to audiences due to her performances at the Center and all over town, she is relishing the opportunity to direct.
“The Arvada Center is such a lovely place to be a director, especially given my many, many years as a performer there. I’ve grown as an actor and artist, and now I’m really grateful for the opportunity to grow as a director,” she said. “The directing process began months and months ago, and as we got closer, I’ve been whittling away at the big ideas and finding the story.”
Oftentimes people are intimated by Shakespeare’s work, but his comedies in particular are incredibly accessible, and Van Fleet said, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” will appeal to connoisseurs and novices alike.
“There’s nothing boring about this production whatsoever. It has a really contemporary feel that will bring everyone around,” she said. “There’s humor everywhere and gorgeous poetry. It really is just a collage of Shakespeare’s best.”
While the primary aim is certainly to entertain audiences with a wild comedic ride, the unique framework Van Fleet has given the production hints at a bigger - and more important - truth.
“Art is everywhere,” she said, “and artists who share that art can help make beauty where we least expect.”
For tickets and information, call 720-898-7200 or visit www.arvadacenter.org/on-stage/a-midsummer-nights-dream.
Annual horse expo highlights equine versatility
Just when you thought it was safe to be at the National Western Complex, the 27th annual Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is back to showcase how robust and amiable these beautiful animals are.
Organized by the Colorado Horse Council, the event runs from Friday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 1 at the complex, 4655 Humboldt St. in Denver.
Options at the expo include clinics and workshops, art exhibits, dressage, the Colt Starting Challenge and a whole lot more.
Get details and tickets at www.coloradohorsecouncil.com/rmhe/.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week - The Lone Bellow at the Bluebird Theater
Brooklyn’s The Lone Bellow do folk rock in the classic tradition. In addition to some Byrds-esque harmonizing, there’s elements of country mixed in with all the folk.
At their best, like on the song “Then Came the Morning,” the group’s vocal interplay and lyrical beauty (“Then came the morning/It was bright like a light that you kept from your smile”) combine to something approaching transcendence.
In support of their latest album, “Half Moon Light,” the trio will be playing at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5 at the Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave. Visit www.bluebirdtheater.net for tickets.
Colorado-raised comedian comes home
New York City-based comedian Dan Soder knows Colorado well, which makes sense, as he was raised in Aurora. In his latest special, “Son of a Gary,” (one of the best stand-up specials of 2019) he has several riffs on his hometown that will ring true to anyone familiar with the area.
Soder will be returning home for a slew of shows at Comedy Works Downtown in Larimer Square, 1226 15th St. He’ll be performing at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7.
Get tickets at www.comedyworks.com/comedians/dan-soder.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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