CUPIDS, N.L. - The spirit of Shakespeare was alive and well in Cupids on July 21.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is likely one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays – one that is studied thoroughly in high schools across the province and performed extensively on a worldwide scale.
In order to get the real Shakespeare experience locally, however, one needs to travel to Cupids, where Perchance Theatre just recently held a grand opening for its production.
It’s just one of the plays the group has on its schedule this summer, the others being “Our Eliza,” and “The Seagull.”
Paul Wilson is one of the many actors involved in Perchance Theatre’s performances. He’s been acting on stage and working behind the scenes for the past five years.
Wilson told The Compass that working with the theatre in Cupids over the last half a decade has been one of the most rewarding experiences he’s had.
That enthusiasm is something he brings to the stage, as well.
This year Wilson can be seen portraying Oberon and Theseus in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which had its grand opening on Saturday, July 21.
“The people really seem to enjoy it, and our opening on Saturday had an almost sold out crowd,” Wilson said, a prideful tone evident in his voice. “There was a standing ovation and everything … They really loved it.”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was originally a comedy written by William Shakespeare in the late-1500s. The story follows the problematic – and often comedic – situations that revolve around ordeals such as marriages between kings and queens, forbidden love, and the magical fairies.
Despite how confusing that brief description may seem, however, a prior understanding of Shakespeare is not necessary whatsoever, said Wilson, who noted that some people often avoid plays such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” due to how complicated the language of the era can sound to inexperienced ears.
“When we’re rehearsing these plays, they always tell us to make sure we really understand what’s going on in the scene, and that we’re not just reciting what the script says. Because if we don’t understand it, how will anyone watching manage to understand it?” Wilson said.
“We deliver the plays in a way that anyone can get a firm grasp on what’s going on in the play. I think that’s very important because I think that can give people a new appreciation for Shakespeare and for these plays.”
While “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” offers the audience a fun tale full of laughter, Perchance Theatre is also offering performances of “Our Eliza,” written by Newfoundland playwright Megan Gail Coles, as well as “The Seagull,” a darker comedy by Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov.
“All the performances will have you feeling differently, for sure,” Wilson said.
“(‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’) will have you laughing along to the lighter humour, whereas ‘The Seagull’ has a bit of a darker feel to it, but it’s still a funny one. Then, ‘Our Eliza’ tells a very nice story, and it’s been a big hit for us,” he added.
“It’s a good mix, I think. All three are very different experiences, and no doubt people will enjoy them all.”
Prior to opening the plays, the actors and behind-the-scenes crew have a hectic and busy week leading up to the big performance. There are plenty of rehearsals including two 12-hour days. There’s also a dress rehearsal to make sure everything is good to go behind the curtain in time for the weekend.
“It’s hectic, no doubt about that,” Wilson said.
“It’s all worth it, though, when you get out on stage and get to deliver this awesome play that you’ve been practicing for so long. That’s sort of what keeps us all going, I think. It’s what we love to do.”