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Open Fist presents provocative ‘Midsummer
Night’s Dream’ set in the time of slavery
LOS ANGELES (REVISED July 29, 2022) — Intrigued by the mechanicals’ line “That would hang us every mother’s son,” director/choreographer James Fowler has moved his Open Fist Theatre Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Athens, Greece to Athens, Georgia circa 1855, where Shakespeare’s text remains intact, but casting and design land us in the world of the Antebellum South. The production opens July 2 at Atwater Village Theatre, where performances continue through August 13.
“I was stunned to discover how well this concept works with the text,” says Fowler. “It makes sense that the fairies, unseen to the lovers, are invisible to the plantation owners around them because they are enslaved. I imagine African slaves on the plantations as people who, despite horrendous hardship, carried magic. In this production, we’re able to see their magic played out in the lives of the people around them who don’t ever see them.”
The fairies are played by Phillip C. Curry as Oberon, Ash Saunders as Titania and Monazia Smith as Puck, while the mechanicals are headed up by Michael A. Shepperd as Bottom and Debba Rofheart as Peter Quince. As part of Fowler’s vision, the remaining fairies and mechanicals are doubled, with Malik Bailey as Mustardseed and Flute; Syanne Green as Peaseblossom and Starvling; Erica Mae Mcneal as Cobweb and Snout; and Azeem Vecchio as Moth and Snug. The White “landowners” include Bryan Bertone as Theseus, Heather Mitchell as Hippolyta and Alexander Wells as Egeus, while the four lovers are played by Sandra Kate Burck as Hermia; Dylan Wittrock as Lysander; Anna-Laurie Rives and Ann Marie Wilding alternating as Helena; and Devon Armstrong and Jeremy Guskin alternating as Demetrius.
The creative team for A Midsummer Night’s Dream includes scenic designer Jan Munroe and charge scenic artist Stephanie Crothers, lighting designer Gavan Wyrick, sound designer Nayla Hull, costume designer Mylette Nora, prop masters Bruce Dickinson and Ina Shumaker, and assistant choreographer Faith Knapp. Amanda Weier is the production manager, and Carmella Jenkins associate produces. The production stage manager is Jennifer Palumbo.
Fowler’s directing credits include The Fantasticks at Sierra Madre Playhouse, The Music Man at Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Romeo and Juliet at L.A.’s historic Pico House and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Sierra Madre Memorial Park. As an acting coach, he developed acting methods currently used by actors around the world. He has coached and worked with actors including Vivica A Fox, Derek Klena, Joe Mantegna, Khandi Alexander, William Forsythe, and Corbin Bleu, among others. His work has been recognized by the California State, Senate, California State Assembly and the NAACP.
Open Fist Theatre Company is a collective, self-producing artistic enterprise with all facets of its operation run by its artist members. The company’s name combines the notion that an open spirit, embracing all people and all ideas, is essential, with the idea that determination, signified by a fist, is necessary if the theater is to remain a vital voice for social change and awareness.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 2 through August 13, with performances taking place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. General admission to all performances is $25, with $15 tickets available to students, seniors and veterans with valid ID. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. Parking is free is in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) parking lot one block south of the theater. Appropriate for ages 10 and up.
To purchase tickets and for more information, including up-to-date Covid-19 protocols on the date of each performance, call (323) 882-6912 or go to www.openfist.org.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
Open Fist Theatre Company presents a provocative new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in the Antebellum South. Intrigued by the Mechanicals’ line “That would hang us every mother’s son,” director James Fowler has moved the action from Athens, Greece to Athens, Georgia circa 1855. There, with Shakespeare’s text unchanged, we enter a world where the magic of an enslaved people plays out in the lives of those to whom they remain invisible.
• Written by William Shakespeare
• Directed and Choreographed by James Fowler
• Starring Devon Armstrong; Malik Bailey; Bryan Bertone; Sandra Kate Burck; Phillip C. Curry; Syanne Green; Jeremy Guskin; Erica Mae Mcneal; Heather Mitchell; Anna-Laurie Rives; Debba Rofheart; Ash Saunders; Michael A. Shepperd; Monazia Smith; Azeem Vecchio; Alexander Wells; Ann Marie Wilding; Dylan Wittrock
• Presented by Open Fist Theatre Company, Martha Demson, artistic director
Performances: July 2 – August 13
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 8, July 15, July 22, July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 2 (Opening Night), July 9, July 16, July 23, July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 13
• Sundays at 7 p.m.: July 3, July 10, July 17, July 24, July 31, Aug. 7
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
• FREE parking in the ATX (Atwater Crossing) lot one block south of the theater.
General Admission (except previews): $25
Students, Seniors, Veterans: $15
• Check website for current Covid-19 protocols on the date of each performance.
• Appropriate for ages 10+
(323) 882-6912 or www.openfist.org