Tri-Village News

School's actors bring Bard's tale into 21st century

Multimedia take on comedy great intro to Shakespeare, director says

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A classic comedy will get a modern makeover on the Grandview Heights High School stage.

The school's fall play is A Midsummer's Night Dream: The Movie, an updated rendition of William Shakespeare's 16th-century comedy.

The adaptation, written by Kansas-based playwright Will Averill, uses multimedia elements, including film and photography, to help present the "play within a play" in Shakespeare's story about mismatched couples who have fallen under the influence of a love potion.

The play will be presented at 7 p.m. Nov. 9 and 10 in the school's auditorium. Tickets are $5.

A $1 student preview will be offered at 7 p.m. Nov. 8.

"This adaptation makes the play more accessible for high school students and, really, for the audience as well," said April Olt, the play's director.

Columbus-area filmmaker Matt Hermiz and photographer Dale Bush have been working with the cast to create the film and photographs that are part of Averill's adaptation, Olt said.

"With the multimedia element, the stage crew (members) are part of the cast," she said. "It makes them more involved, so they have been coming to every rehearsal we've had."

Students in Mark Johnson's journalism class also are involved in the production, Olt said.

Averill's modernized version of Shakespeare's play features Hollywood stars, paparazzi and filmmakers as well as the fairies the Bard included in his work.

"This is a shortened version of the play, set in modern times, although it includes the original dialogue and all the characters and main plot points," Olt said. "It's a show that everyone can enjoy, including middle school and elementary students. It's a great way to introduce them to Shakespeare."

She said she was eager to give the student actors the opportunity to participate in a play by Shakespeare.

"You really have to perform his words to make them come alive," Olt said. "It's harder to really feel them just reading them on a page."

"I liked the play once I got past the language," said Chad Carter, who portrays Flute and Theseus.

"You can see that it's a really funny play," he said.

Senior C.J. Flowers, who portrays Demetrius, is acting in his first play at the school.

"It's fun because you get to meet new people and work together as a cast," he said. "My friends made me try out. It's something I wanted to do before my senior year is over."

For senior Max Joseph, the most enjoyable part of the play is the way it puts "a modern spin" on Shakespeare.

"I've read Shakespeare for classes, but when you perform it, you understand how great the words are," he said.

"The iambic pentameter takes a little getting use to," said senior Hunter Carty, who portrays Helena.

The multimedia elements "let us experience both being on stage and working in film and photography," she said. "It makes it challenging but fun."

This is the first Grandview High School production Olt has directed.

"It's a great group of kids," she said. "They bring so much energy and joy to the process.

"I think anybody who skips seeing this play is really going to be missing something special."

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