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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Magical Hilarity!


Bob Hall and his cast have magic to do, just for you, and the effect is nothing short of dreamy.
Star City Blog, June 20, 2011

Funny, charming, well-balanced, talented cast and what a fantastic venue for Midsummer: COULD not be more perfect. Enjoy a beautiful summer night with Shakespeare in the Park!
Audience Member

This is a show worth seeing, so get out under the stars and dream a little!
Audience Member

The initial run of Flatwater Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream ends Sunday night, June 26, 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln Foundation Garden (N Street, between 14th and Centennial Mall). Call 402-473-2897 to see if any seats are left! Free Admission – suggested donation $10.

If you haven’t seen the show – or just want to see it again – you’re in luck! Starting this Thursday, June 30, and continuing July 1-3 and 7-10, the show embarks on a whirlwind tour of some of Lincoln’s finest parks and other outdoor venues. As with the LCF Garden performances, admission is Free – but freewill donations will be happily accepted.

Audiences are asked to bring blankets, chairs, and cushions to sit on. Free ice cream will be provided by Ivanna Cone. Here are the scheduled venues. Showtime is 7 p.m.

June 30: Prescott Elementary School, 1930 S. 20th Street

July 1: Cooper Park, S. 6th and D Streets

July 2: Bethany Park, N. 65th and Vine Streets

July 3: Henry Park, S. 44th Street and Prescott Avenue

July 7: First Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 D Street

July 8: Trago Park, N. 22nd and U Streets

July 9: Antelope Park @ Ager Center, 1300 S. 27th Street, by Liberty Statue

July 10: Woods Park, S. 33rd and J Streets

Call 402-473-2897 for information.


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Visit us at flatwatershakespeare.org.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dream a Little!


Along with great reviews in the media, we've received great audience comments!

Such as . . .

Funny, charming, well-balanced, talented cast and what a fantastic venue for Midsummer - COULD not be more perfect. Enjoy a beautiful summer night with Shakespeare in the Park!

Such a great show! Everyone should see this. It's a great night of live theater. I hope to go again.

This is a show worth seeing, so get out under the stars and dream a little!


A Midsummer Night's Dream . . . it is fabulous. Don't miss it.

The setting was magical and that the cast was simply amazing. Laughter abounded among us – which was so delightful.

It was awesome!



FOUR MORE SHOWS -- TONIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY
AT THE LINCOLN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION GARDEN
"N" STREET BETWEEN 14TH AND CENTENNIAL MALL.

7:30 p.m. / JUNE 23, 24, 25, 26

FREE ADMISSION (suggested donation $10)


(AFTER THAT, WE GO ON TOUR -- SEE INFO IN PREVIOUS POST!)

CALL 402-473-2897

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nothing Short of Dreamy!


Flatwater Shakespeare's Midsummer is a Dream
By Ladd Wendelin, Star City Blog, June 20, 2011

“I may never believe / These antique fables nor these fairy toys,” speaks Theseus in Act V, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which played to a receptive, if not bug-bitten, audience in the Lincoln Foundation Gardens (1417 N St., just past Colby Ridge Popcorn) Sunday evening.

Watching a cast of Flatwater regulars and newcomers perform, it struck me just how prevalent the supernatural is throughout the play (learning something new every time – a guarantee with any Shakespeare play). Magic, or the misuse of it, inevitably leads to disbelief. The fancies of love quickly become a fool’s errand. And yet, deep in the heart of the Athenian woods, Shakespeare invites us to scrap our skepticism, get lost in the language and be seduced by transformative, magical powers that only appear in the heat of the moment, just before daybreak.

It would be difficult to imagine this play being staged in Flatwater Shakespeare’s regular home, the Swan (or Carriage House) at Wyuka Cemetery. Currently under renovation, director Bob Hall has wisely moved operations for this production of Midsummer from the Swan to the Lincoln Foundation Gardens. The Foundation Gardens are the ideal setting for the play, and Hall has clearly taken great care in adapting the play for the space. Forget that it’s bordered by the Windstream building! Stretch your imagination just enough, and you’re bound to find yourself in a hanging garden surrounded by Roman ruins.

With the audience on either side of the commons area, surrounded by the well-manicured flora of the Gardens, Flatwater’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream has just enough of that supernatural / illusionary quality to really make it that theatrical summer treat, distinct from past Flatwater productions, and yet accessible enough to appeal to a larger audience. Fortunately, there’s much to appreciate in Hall’s production.

Hall’s crack production team has not let the opportunity of performing in the Gardens pass them by without a strong showing of their trade. Janice Stauffer’s glistening costumes and Dustin Witte’s expertly crafted, hand-woven props not only complemented the setting, but seem to draw inspiration from it.

Some excellent performances from the cast must be seen to be believed, as well. Mike Lee, who captivated as a banjo-strumming minstrel in UNL’s Twelfth Night, returns here as the mischievous sprite Puck. His energy and enthusiasm for the role is quite apparent and welcome. Robie Hayek leads the troupe of inept players, which includes Eric Ojeda in a standout performance as the half-assed Nick Bottom. From Ojeda to Petrea Whittier’s Hermia, the commitment these actors and actresses bring to their respective roles is perhaps the strongest reason to fall under the consistently engaging, enchanting and hilarious spell of Midsummer.

Bob Hall and his cast have magic to do, just for you, and the effect is nothing short of dreamy.

_______________________________________

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs this weekend, June 22 to 26, Thursday through Sunday, with performances each night at 7:30 p.m. at Lincoln Foundation Gardens (1471 N St.). Starting the following weekend, June 30 to July 3, and continuing July 7-10, Midsummer will embark on a whirlwind tour of Lincoln’s finest gardens and parks. To these performances, audiences are asked to bring blankets, chairs, and cushions to sit on. Free ice cream will be provided by Ivanna Cone.

June 30: Prescott Elementary School, 1930 S. 20th Street

July 1: Cooper Park, S. 6th and D Streets

July 2: Bethany Park, N. 65th and Vine Streets

July 3: Henry Park, S. 44th Street and Prescott Avenue

July 7: First Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 D Street

July 8: Trago Park, N. 22nd and U Streets

July 9: Antelope Park@ Ager Center, 1300 S. 27th Street, by Liberty Statue

July 10: Woods Park, S. 33rd and J Streets

Admission to all performances is completely free of charge, although a suggested $10 donation is encouraged. Bring bug spray!


CALL 402-473-2897 for information and reservations.

Photo: Mike Lee as Puck in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Most Rare Vision -- Downtown and Crosstown


Flatwater Shakespeare Begins Tour of Lincoln

Mike Hollins, Daily Nebraskan, June 13, 2011


What's better than enjoying some Shakespeare on a warm summer night? How about enjoying some Shakespeare on a warm summer night under the blanket of a beautiful starlit sky?

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company will begin its Lincolnwide tour of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream on June 15 with performances around the city until July 10.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company is a Lincoln-based ensemble that has been collaborating with local artists for more than 10 years to bring Shakespeare's plays and other classic works to the stage.

Stephen Buhler, an English professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and educational director of the Flatwater Shakespeare Company, expressed the organization's intentions to expand the audience for live theater.

"Younger audiences, non-traditional audiences and under-represented groups can all be better connected with the dramatic arts," Buhler said. "That's a major reason why attendance at this production is offered free of charge – although we'll happily accept free-will donations."

Buhler also explained why this summer's shows will be a bit different from years past.

"For over a decade, we have performed our June shows at the Swan Theatre, located at the old carriage house at Wyuka Cemetery," Buhler said. "A major renovation grant means that the Swan is unavailable for this summer and next summer."

Since the theatrical group was forced to find a new venue for their upcoming production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," they opted for a citywide tour across Lincoln, performing at several outdoor locations throughout the play's four-week run.

"This is our first outdoor staging of the play," Buhler said while explaining how Midsummer's mood lends itself perfectly to an outdoor performance. "Along with being one of Shakespeare's most magical plays, it's also one of his liveliest — with much of the action taking place outdoors, under the moon and stars."

From June 15-26, Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m., the Flatwater Shakespeare Company will perform A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Lincoln Community Foundation Gardens located on N Street between 14th Street and Centennial Mall.

Sarah Peetz, the vice president for community outreach at the Lincoln Community Foundation, feels that the gardens will provide an ideal setting for the Shakespearean classic.

"It is a beautiful space and can accommodate a large audience," Peetz said. "A Midsummer Night's Dream is traditionally performed in an open air venue, so using the Foundation Garden continues Flatwater Shakespeare's tradition of open air summer productions."

From June 30 through July 10 the company takes its production on tour with performances all across Lincoln, starting at Prescott Elementary on June 30, Cooper Park on July 1, Bethany Park on July 2, Henry Park on July 3, First Plymouth Congressional Church on July 7, Trago Park on July 8, Antelope Park on July 9 and wrapping things up at Woods Park on July 10.

Bob Hall is the founder of the Flatwater Shakespeare Company and director of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Hall hopes Lincolnites will turn out to enjoy Shakespeare's humorous play free of charge.

"It's probably the most popular comedy ever written," Hall said. "For those who aren't familiar with Shakespeare, this is an excellent opportunity to give it a try. I guarantee that everyone will have a good time."


Call 402-473-2897 for information and reservations!


Photo: Eric Ojeda as Bottom, Mike Lee as Puck, Robie Hayek as Quince, and Nate Ruleaux as Flute in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Share the Enchantment!


Shakespeare Plays under the Stars
Pamela S. Thompson, Lincoln Journal Star


Shakespeare in the Park has landed in Lincoln.

Inspired perhaps by the free Central Park summer performances in New York City, Flatwater Shakespeare Company's artistic director, Bob Hall, has staged A Midsummer Night's Dream under a canopy of trees and stars.

Wednesday's opening night audience of more than 150 -- equipped with bug spray, Goodrich ice cream and loose-fitting clothing -- was treated to an athletic two-plus hours of the Bard's best. The performance commanded the audience's full attention, as the dialog was as quick as the performers' sprints among the garden walks, ponds and steps.

It was a brave experiment to present this play in an outdoor downtown space. But it is also true that this production was in competition with its venue.

In Shakespeare's play, the forest outside Athens is an enchanted wonderland. The Lincoln Foundation Garden, by contrast, is an urban square bounded on two sides by tall buildings.

The performance was presented in the round, so that at any point the actors were directing their lines away from some part of the audience. Thus, one section sometimes was deprived of hearing a line by passing traffic, a building air conditioner or a stray airplane. With the seats on the same level as the stage, when an actor dropped to his or her knees, that actor was lost to all but the first row.

As is typical of a Hall-directed production, the cast was solid, led by a comedic Eric Ojeda as narcissistic and stage-mad weaver Bottom. Enjoyably energetic were Rob Burt, Peter Swanke, Maggie Austin and Petrea Whittier as the lovers thrown into a delightful confusion caused by the anarchic sprite Puck, played with gusto by the mischievous Mike Lee, as commanded by Darin Hemmer's bewitching Oberon.

This is a vehicle in which Shakespeare indulges his appreciation for the magic of the season, and the production is a robust embodiment of that pleasure. For those who can dispense with the comfort of an air-conditioned theater, this outdoor production allows us to share the enchantment.


Flatwater Shakespeare Company’s A Midsummer Night's Dream

Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, 14th and N streets

7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, June 16-19
and Wednesday through Sunday, June 22-26

Free, suggested donation of $10; call 402-473-2897

Touring schedule

Flatwater Shakespeare will take the production to parks and other outdoor locations around Lincoln after its run in Foundation Garden. It will play at 7 p.m. and, like the LCF Garden production, will be free. Following is the tour schedule:

June 30 -- Prescott Elementary School, 1930 S. 20th St.

July 1 -- Cooper Park, Sixth and D streets

July 2 -- Bethany Park, 65th and Vine streets

July 3 -- Henry Park, 44th Street and Prescott Avenue

July 7 -- First-Plymouth Congregational Church, 20th and D streets

July 8 -- Trago Park, 22nd and U streets

July 9 -- Antelope Park (by Liberty Statue), 1300 S. 27th St.

July 10 -- Woods Park, 33rd and J streets


Photo: Mike Lee as Puck in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opening This Wednesday -- And Touring After!


The Flatwater Shakespeare Company's

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Directed by Bob Hall

Arrives this Wednesday at the
Lincoln Community Foundation Gardens


"N" Street, Between 14th and Centennial Mall

June 15-19 and 22-26, 7:30 p.m.

Call 402-473-2897

Free Admission (suggested donation $10)


And, following the LCF Gardens run,
this Dream hits the road for a tour of Lincoln:

June 30- Prescott Elementary School, 1930 S. 20th Street

July 1- Cooper Park, S. 6th and D Streets

July 2- Bethany Park, N. 65th and Vine Streets

July 3-Henry Park, S. 44th Street and Prescott Avenue

July 7- First Plymouth Congregational Church, 2000 D Street

July 8- Trago Park, N. 22nd and U Streets

July 9- Antelope Park@ Ager Center, 1300 S. 27th Street, by Liberty Statue

July 10- Woods Park, S. 33rd and J Streets

This tour has been organized by the show’s properties master, Dustin Witte, and choreographer, Daniel Kubert, with the help of Dave Bomberger of Lincoln Parks. The touring version will be abridged for a 90-minute running time without intermission. Show time during the tour is 7 p.m. and audience members should bring lawn chairs, cushions, or blankets for seating. Free ice cream will be provided by Ivanna Cone, 701 P Street.

The tour of Flatwater Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is sponsored by a grant from the Woods Charitable Trust and by Prescott Elementary School, First Plymouth Congregational Church, and the Lincoln Department of Parks and Recreation.

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For More Information, visit us at flatwatershakespeare.org

Photo: Nate Ruleaux as Flute, Robie Hayek as Quince, and Eric Ojeda as Bottom in the Flatwater Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Who're You Calling Rude?


WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT WORKINGMEN AS ACTORS?

In medieval England, festivals and fairs often centered on energetic dances (such as the Bergomask). One form came to be known as the Morris dance (Titania mentions the part of the village green where the “Nine-men’s Morris”is done) – borrowing from the idea of Moorish dancing in the Mediterranean region.

Other entertainments combined a story line with fighting, slapstick, and general clowning – these Folk Plays featured characters drawn from popular tradition, such as Saint George and the Dragon, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, portrayed by villagers and townspeople.

Eventually, local citizens built upon developments in medieval church services in which scenes from scripture were dramatically re-enacted. These Liturgical Plays gave rise to Mystery Plays, staged outdoors, which presented imaginative retellings of a wide range of biblical stories. In several towns, the trade-guilds took charge. One explanation for the term “mystery” is that it refers to the skill or craft shared by the performers (perhaps related to “mastery,” as with a Master Carpenter). Generally, each play was presented by a single guild and sometimes there was obvious suitability in the subject matter, as when the Carpenters presented the play of Noah’s Ark or the Bakers that of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes.

Each series of plays, known as a cycle, traced the spiritual history of humankind – from, that is, the Christian perspective. Each individual play could also include (and deliberately so) farcical comedy and realistic scenes from contemporary life: The Second Shepherds’ Play, for example, is a brilliant, hilarious, and moving take on the Nativity story. Mystery Plays were almost always written in verse, in a range of stanza forms. They became focal points for festivals (holy-days, holidays) in towns and cities, including Chester, Wakefield, and York, in the 1300s and into the 1500s. Performers associated with guilds would also provide entertainments at pageants and processions during special occasions, such as visits from royalty. But as the Reformation took hold in England in the second half of the 1500s (and after Elizabeth’s accession), guild plays in particular were gradually suppressed as inappropriate forms of entertainment on feast days. Other factors included the influence of University drama – which staged ancient Roman plays or tackled classical subjects – and the rise of professional theater.

Shakespeare’s Rude Mechanicals (Puck's description: that is, unlearned men who work with tools) are based on the actors of Guild Plays – if with important differences. Since A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in ancient Athens, their subject matter has to be classical: the exploits of Hercules (“Ercles,” says Bottom) or the tragic tale of Pyramus and Thisbe. They are drawn from a variety of occupations, not a single craft or mystery. Even so, they are true to form in their performance style (Bottom clearly is used to playing Hercules in a ranting manner appropriate to King Herod), their approach to verse, their contemporary flavor, and their perhaps surprising potential to be dramatically effective. The 1952 movie musical Singin’ in the Rain is an affectionate tribute to (and satire on) the Hollywood pioneers who made possible the transition from silent film to talkies – and musicals, for that matter. Shakespeare’s presentation of the Mechanicals’ Pyramus and Thisbe is, similarly, an affectionate tribute to (and send-up of) the working folk who had embodied and sustained English drama for centuries.

The Flatwater Shakespeare Company’s
Midsummer Night’s Dream

Directed by Bob Hall
Dates: June 15-19, 22-26
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Lincoln Community Foundation Gardens
"N" Street, Between 14th and Centennial Mall, Lincoln
Reservations: 402-473-2897
Admission Free -- $10 Suggested Donation

(Photo: 19th-century illustration suggesting how the Chester Crucifixion Play – note the emblems of punishment, along with tools of the Carpenters’ trade, on the front banner – might have been staged on a pageant cart in the town square.)