Midsummer Night’s Dreaming at the Loft Theater

As the weather warms up, the Grinnell Arts Center will be considering summer with its new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which opened on Thursday, April 16.

The production brings a nontraditional approach to this classic play.

“It’s a staged reading. Everything is just like a play, except that people will have books in their hands,” said director Sandy Moffett, professor emeritus of theater. “Some people at certain ages are intimidated by the notion of memorizing lines, and so I wanted to open up and make it seem a little more low key, a little less intimidating, a little less formidable.”

The staged reading is staged in the Grinnell Arts Center’s Loft Theater and it is Moffett’s hope that it will bring people together.

“That was one of the aims—to bridge lots of gaps. To bridge gaps between the people of Grinnell, between the College and the community, between old people and young people, and so forth,” Moffett said. “What I’m interested in, you know, is establishing a tradition in the new theater downtown.”

The production features 18 cast members of all ages, and children were also involved in much of the behind the scenes production.

“We created costumes as we went along,” Moffett said. “The set, which I think is just wonderful, was done, designed and built by students from kindergarten to the fifth grade.”

The production is a staged reading, which allows the actors to use their scripts on stage and invites greater participation from a wider variety of actors. Photo by Aaron Juarez

The production is a staged reading, which allows the actors to use their scripts on stage and invites greater participation from a wider variety of actors. Photo by Aaron Juarez

The poster for the production was also designed by a fifth grader, which truly reflects how all age groups were involved in the making of this play. There are also five ollege students in the cast, who joined after hearing about it from him in their class.

“I didn’t have what you would call auditions—I just asked people [who] were interested in the play,” said Moffett.

While Moffett has directed the same play many times before, he sees each time as a new opportunity.

“The exciting thing about directing is that every time you do a play, even if you’re doing the same play, it’s totally different because you have different people in it,” Moffett said.

These different people and personalities greatly affect the final outcome, according to Moffett.

“What I end up with at the end is not necessarily what I had in mind in the beginning. I really think that doing a play is a collaborative experience and everyone is entitled to put in their share,” he said.

In addition to bringing in the ideas of his cast, Moffett tries to bring the audience into the production.

“Since it’s a wedding celebrating, we’re actually going to have food served to the audience and they’ll be a part of the celebration,” Moffett said. “In the first and the last scenes, the audience will be cast members in the play.”