‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ virtuals cast, crew hails from across the US – Chicago Tribune

“Redefining theater for this moment … and the next” is the tagline for This Moment Productions, which was founded by Orland Park’s Dana Hall and Oak Lawn native Pamela Morgan.

The group, which specializes in streaming theatrical productions, presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on demand, with each of the five prerecorded installations premiering at 7 pm Fridays from May 27 to June 24 online.

“I love the show. I’ve done it before onstage but I was drawn to the opportunity to tell the story again in a way that wasn’t possible on a real stage,” said Misty Doty, who directs “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from Seattle.

“Instead of seeing virtual theater, Zoom theater, however you want to refer to it as a hindrance because we can’t be together in person, we’re embracing the opportunity that it provides.

“How can we create this world and present these characters and the mischief that they get up to in ways that you would never get to see on a live stage? That’s what made the project exciting for me. It ended up being a fun, creative play.”

The virtual adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is based on the William Shakespeare comedy of the same name, but is set at a big technology company and focuses on three couples: Theseus and Hippolyta, who are getting married; Hermia and Lysander who plan to elope; and Helena and Demetrius.

“Everybody’s falling in love with the wrong people. Lots of mischief and things happen in the woods, which in our story is like a virtual world,” Doty said.

“There’s another subplot of some employees from the company deciding they’re going to put on a play.”

The cast includes actors performing from Chicago, California, Ohio, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington and the Philippines.

“They are so phenomenal and so creative,” said Doty, who is also camp coordinator and youth company administrator for School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts in Seattle.

“You might assume that if you’re not in the same room together that it’s hard to connect, but you can just feel the relationships and the connections. All of the lovers are so good together. They have great ideas.

“The mechanicals are our clowns. They’re such a tight unit but they crack me up continuously. They double as our fairies so it’s fun to see them in both of those spaces. The whole cast is just a dream.”

The crew for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” includes Morgan of Normal as technical director, Hall as dramaturge and other members working from Georgia and Oklahoma.

“We’re trying to anticipate what our audience is willing to tolerate in terms of staring at a screen and hearing and listening to Shakespearean language. We’re trying to be conscientious of that so we’ve broken it down and we’re releasing it act by act,” Doty said.

“Each shot will only be about 20 minutes so that will be nice and bite-size to get folks to want to come back and see what happens next in the show. It’s a little more digestible.”

Unlike prior This Moment Productions’ shows, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” features pay-what-you-can pricing with profits shared equally between cast and crew.

“It gave us the flexibility to make it accessible to as many people as possible,” Doty said.

“Also, because we were dividing it up into different acts, we didn’t want to put a big price on something. If people really appreciate your work, they’ll end up supporting you more. We just wanted to keep that open.

“If friends or family don’t have the means, they’re still going to be able to access our work and get to appreciate us and celebrate us too.”

Doty had worked with Morgan on virtual productions for other companies but “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” marks Doty’s first time directing for This Moment Productions.

“Virtual theater in general has been a response to the pandemic and lockdown, which is why I love art. We adapt. We adjust so that we can continue to create. It’s what we have to do. It’s in our souls. We have to connect to people,” she said.

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“I hope folks will see something new that maybe they haven’t seen before while still meeting their expectations of what ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be joyful. It’s supposed to be fun.”

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

When: installments premiere at 7 pm Fridays from May 27-June 24

Where: onthestage.tickets/thismomentproductions

Tickets: pay what you can from $1-$20

Information: thismomentproductions.org

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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