The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) will present a nostalgic new take on the Bard of Avon’s adored and enduring A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Oct. 3 (preview) through 7 in Patricia Corbett Theater. This comedic dalliance of magic and young love will be presented with a wistful and unprecedented 1960s concept, and will also feature an original work of art by renowned Canadian visual artist Amy Shackleton.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream explores the adventures of a quartet of Athenian lovers, a group of six amateur actors (the mechanicals) and their encounters with the fairies who control and manipulate them, including Puck, one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated characters. The setting of 1963 presents a new concept organically and creatively orchestrated by director Michael Burnham and costume designer Brittany McManus.
“My hunch was that midsummer is that moment when it suddenly dawns on you that it’s going to end,” said Burnham. “It’s still pretty perfect, but you get that kind of wistful sense about it. So I wanted to see what happened if you fold that feeling in the play.” Inspired by a charming and fantasy-like wedding, Burnham aimed to develop a concept that was permeated by a sense of reflective dreaminess that happens right at the point that history is about to turn.
“Michael and I had talked about what kind of ideas we all had, and what he said made it clear that it was supposed to be the 1960s, even if he didn’t realize it at the time,” stated McManus. Inspired by the emergence of countercultures in the era, her design characterizes the fairies like the iconic characters from television’s Mad Men, explores Kennedy-like sophistication for the Athenians and portrays the mechanicals as part of the thriving middle class. For the play-within-a-play, Pyramus and Thisbe are set in the Renaissance as a nod back to the Shakespearean era.
Also drawing inspiration from outside experiences is scenic designer Ryan Howell, who saw a viral YouTube video of Amy Shackleton’s unique way of painting and reached out to the artist herself. In conjunction with the Theater Design and Production Department, Shackleton conducted a week-long residency at CCM to construct an all new piece, which will be displayed in a time-lapse video throughout the production. The CCM production is Shackleton’s first-ever theatrical collaboration.
A staple in any young actor’s repertoire, Shakespeare allows CCM Drama students to experience classical comedy, but also explore and innovate how to breathe their own life into seemingly archetypical characters. For Garrett Walters, a junior from Frankfort, Ky., playing the role of Demetrius, the most cunning of the young lovers, the experience has presented the challenge of bringing to the stage a persona so different than his own. “He’s not dark or evil. He’s a good guy, but he’s mean,” stated Walters. “I’m good-natured and normally sweet. … It works that I’m in this role, but it’s been interesting to find that balance between who I am and who Demetrius is as a character.”
Cast members and staff laud director Burnham for his ability to inspire and foster teamwork and his openness to all ideas. For senior and Cincinnati-native Will Kiley who depicts the mechanical Flute, his final Mainstage performance at CCM has been an enriching and cooperative one. “It’s outrageously collaborative,” said Kiley. “No one feels that it’s their show that I’m supporting, we all think it’s our show that we are putting on together.”
About Amy Shackleton
Toronto-based artist Amy Shackleton paints representational works with a drip technique normally reserved for abstraction. She applies the paint with squeeze bottles and rotates her canvas to guide each drip as it falls down the stretched surface. Thorough planning, measuring and layering is involved, but she is at the mercy of gravity.
The natural force of gravity allows for a refreshing unpredictability that helps illustrate the organic elements in her work. To combat the natural, she uses a rotating easel and a level – creating straight lines, controlled curves and, eventually, concrete buildings.
This is Shackleton’s first theatrical collaboration, and she is ecstatic to be doing it at CCM. Shackleton has exhibited paintings in New York City, London, Massachusetts, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. Recently, a time-lapse video revealing her unique process went viral, reaching over one million people (and counting). You can view this video here.
Shackleton was recently interviewed on the national television show “CTV Canada AM.” The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, CBC, CBS, Gizmodo, My Modern Met and Oddity Central have all featured her work. A review of her April 2012 solo exhibition can be found in the Spring Issue of Magenta Magazine. Shackleton was invited to speak on a panel about “Making Art in the Age of New Media” at the 15th Canadian Arts Summit in Banff.
Shackleton is currently working on a 50-foot-long painting, partially funded by the Ontario Arts Council. Her paintings adorn dozens of private and corporate collections across North America, including the Colart Collection in Montreal. She received her BFA Honors Degree from York University in 2008. Shackleton is represented by the Elaine Fleck Gallery in Toronto and the Gerry Thomas Gallery in Calgary.
About Michael Burnham
In the last year, Michael Burnham has dramaturged the writing and then directed the premiere of CCM alumna Alison Vodnoy Wolf’s adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses. He also wrote and directed Prokofiev, Shostakovich: Pieces in the Key of Silence for the chamber ensemble concert:nova, helped CCM Drama students create a series of small plays for the Cincinnati Homeless Commission, assisted a group of School for Creative and Performing Arts students in building and presenting an original piece at the city’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, and directed the premiere of John Ray’s The Sweet, Burning Yonder as part of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. This spring, he will direct Emily Mann’s Execution of Justice at CCM.
Burnham also performs as a storyteller throughout the eastern part of the country and has narrated symphony concerts for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Salt Lake Symphony Opera and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra among others. His adaptation of Stravinsky’s l’Histoire du Soldat (which he directed while playing the Devil) premiered at the Salt Lake Symphony Opera.
For his work as a director, occasional actor and playwright, and a champion for the city’s small experimental theatre companies, Burnham received a League of Cincinnati Theatres Sustained Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards Hall of Fame.
Before coming to CCM, Michael was Literary Manager at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a theater critic for Cincinnati Magazine and a theater and film critic for WGUC-FM. He was also a Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.
When given a sabbatical a couple of years ago, he studied theatre with Song of the Goat in Poland and Butoh dancing with Oguri in London and Wales and with Atsushi Takenouchi in France. At CCM, Burnham directs and teaches courses in script analysis, directing, dramaturgy and a class called The Artist in Society.
- 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3 (preview)
- 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4
- 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5
- 2 & 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6*
- 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7
* Please note that the Oct. 6 performances coincide with UC Homecoming, so please arrive early to secure your parking. Learn more about Homecoming 2012 by visiting uc.edu/alumni/connect/events/reunions/homecoming.
Patricia Corbett Theater, College-Conservatory of Music
University of Cincinnati
Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream are $30 for adults, $19 for non-UC students, $17 for UC students, $12 for UC students with rush tickets available for the Saturday matinee beginning at 1 p.m. on Oct. 6. Tickets for the Oct. 3 preview are $12. Subscription packages are also still available for CCM’s 2012-13 Mainstage Series.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice.
Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.
For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation
Mainstage Season Production Sponsor: Macy’s