by Tom Anderson
photography by Gloria Diaz
The University of La Verne’s Theatre Arts Department is gearing up for its latest production, William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The play will feature a unique musical score and lighting design, arranged by some of the University’s most artistic minds.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” written in 1595, deals primarily with two stories: The fairy King Oberon plot to humiliate his wife, Titania, and the imminent marriage of Duke Theseus to his former enemy, Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazonians.
The wedding of the latter pair is preceded by an elaborate and giggle-inducing chain of events. A chain that has won the piece more than four centuries worth of fans.
In fact, Jeffrey Kahan, associate professor of English and the University’s resident Shakespeare guru, said that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of the Bard’s best-loved comedies.
Of course, no two versions of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” have ever been exactly the same.
“Its performance and history is complex and riddled with abridgement and adaptation,” Kahan said.
The University’s latest version is no exception, as it will boast all new interpretations of the musical score and the lighting design.
Scott Farthing, associate professor of music, is responsible for the score. He and Steve Kent, the play’s director, were discussing something else when the idea came up. “He suggested it and I thought it sounded like fun,” Farthing said.
“However,” he said, “It is not like composing a movie score where you see the action and compose music to fit. In this process you are composing music to fit what you hope the action will be. In some ways the music actually defines the action and flavor of the scene.”
Farthing describes the final product of his efforts as a score featuring a wide variety of styles while still managing to surround a central idea.
“The score reflects youthfulness and fantasy through the eyes and sensation of a child,” he said.
The lighting design is the work of Rebecca Campana, whose work is her senior lighting design thesis.
She was given free reign by Kent and the rest of the directing team, making the task of arranging the lighting for this specific setting, a rainforest, even sweeter.
“A forest is one of the coolest things to be creative with,” she said.
However, designing the lighting for this production was not quite as straightforward as it was for her previous projects. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is almost like five plays in one, she said, challenging her to give each of those mini-plays its own distinct feel while overlapping the lighting styles when the mini-plays overlap.
With a talent pool this deep, both onstage and offstage, expectations are high on all fronts. The show is entered in a competition under the categories of acting and lighting design.
Campana said she is a little nervous; however, most of her colleagues are quite excited. Kahan is looking forward to the production, and is confident it will be a first-class effort.
“I know very little about the upcoming production,” Kahan said. “Other than to say that ULV has a superb [theater] department and I fully expect it to be wonderful, nay, dream-like.”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is showing in Dailey Theatre on Nov. 4 and 11-13 at 7:30 p.m., on Nov. 6 at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees on Nov. 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. Admission is $3 for students, $8 for general admission.