For its 2019 season opener, Cal Shakes revisits A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Tyne Rafaeli. Although the recent rain made the process leading up to the opening ‘adventurous’ and ‘challenging,’ she says the Orinda venue is a perfect setting for Shakespeare in general, and this play in particular.
There’s more information about the performances, which run through June 16th at the Cal Shakes website.
“So much of Shakespeare is about the stars, about the natural world, about God,” Rafaeli says, “And when you’re in this kind of environment, where you’re in relationship with the cosmos, it just elevates the experience hugely. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful place to do Shakespeare, and kind of singularly beautiful, in my experience. There’s something very important and particular about doing Shakespeare outside, which is of course how the original productions would have been done.” The play, which she says has been following her since she was a student, tells a story that is important to hear now. “At its heart, it’s about freedom and about the emancipation of self, and the expression of full self. And as we see across the globe, and of course in this country, we’re not experiencing that, we’re experiencing in some ways the opposite of that. This community in this play go from a very oppressive, draconian regime into a place where they experience freedom for the first time in their lives.” Rafaeli says that she is attracted to the ways in which the plays speak to where we are at the moment, and there’s a real resonance for the Bay Area audience members. “On a very real level for this community, both in terms of the recent experience with the wildfires and of course this crazy rain that we’ve been experiencing the last two weeks, there’s a disordered natural world that is causing great upset… And so Titania’s speech, where she describes the seasons being inverted, she describes diseases spreading, she describes floods and fires, is of course like ripped out of the front page of our newspapers.”