Interview: Director of A Midsummers’ Night Dream @ Lakeside with NNT

Lakeside Arts Theatre has teamed up with UoN’s very own Nottingham New Theatre in this latest production of Shakespeare’s beloved play ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’. Impact Arts caught up with Director Martin Berry to get his take on the play, the collaboration with NNT and the magic behind the story.


Why did you choose to do A Midsummer’s Night Dream?
We were looking for something lighter in tone to follow Doctor Faustus which we produced last year and also a piece that would have a broad appeal for the student cast and young audience that we target with this project.  It is also a wonderful play of course and allows for such inventiveness, energy and imagination which are the hallmarks of what both Lakeside and TNNT do so well.
Why did you choose to work in collaboration with NNT?
Why wouldn’t we?  They have an insatiable energy for theatre making and for creating productions that push boundaries and appeal to their core audience of young people.  The key thing is that we create something that is only possible by combining the talents and resources of both organisations.
How do you plan on making this production stand out from other productions the audience might have seen?
That is a great question and a real challenge with this play.  Everyone has seen it or studied it or both.  I think to be honest that it is unhelpful in any creative process to think ‘let’s set out to be different’ – just for the sake of it.  That can lead to bad decisions made on the basis of ego rather than serving a cohesive vision born out of the text.  If I were to try and zoom in on what makes our production unique now that it is almost ready to be presented to an audience, it is that we have created a magical woodland world both visually and musically, and that we have tried to make all of the characters recognisable to a modern young audience.
Are there any particular angles you’ve taken in terms of direction to overcome the barriers the language poses?
Not really.  This is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible plays in terms of language.  I have made some cuts, which I often do with Shakespeare  to keep things moving along for a modern audience with a very short attention span, and I have moved one or two scenes around so that the storytelling is altered slightly in favour of Puck being our guide through the play.  Other than that I apply the same rules to Shakespeare’s language as I do to the words of any playwright: find the truth, serve the text and keep it simple.
What has been the most difficult obstacle you’ve overcome during rehearsals?
(Failing to) resist the amazing baked goodies being brought in by members of the cast.
What’s been your favourite part of the show to rehearse and why?
I love all of it.  There is an obvious joy in the final Mechanicals scene and this has been tremendous fun but I also love the poetry the fairies get to speak and also the remarkable humanity in the lovers.  They really could be teenagers today.  As I sit here preparing for our technical rehearsals, where we bring all of the production values together, I am also really enjoying that part of the process: seeing the amazing work of the entire team come together to create something really magical.
How would you sum up the production in three words?
Quirky, entertaining, collaborative.
Words: Emma Lawton
‘A Midsummers’ Night Dream’ is on at Lakeside Arts Centre from Monday 27th April till Sunday 2nd May.
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