Fantasy. Magic. Romance. Comedy.
All four elements figure into “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the play featured in this year’s Southern California Shakespeare Festival.
The festival, which features professional actors, Cal Poly Pomona students and alumni, will put on nine performances of the classic Shakespearean comedy, Sept. 7 to 29, in the Studio Theatre.
The play recounts the romantic intrigues of two couples, Hermia and Lysander, and Helena and Demetrius, as they journey from city of Athens into the fantasy world of the forest. Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies in the forest, respectively, and Puck, one of their subjects, become entangled in the couple’s intrigues, with comic results.
“It’s one of the most popular plays since it was created almost entirely from Shakespeare’s imagination,” says director Sam Robinson.
The festival is in its ninth year. The cast of 18 includes three members of the Actors Equity Association, which is the union of professional actors. Some of the students in the theatre crew will get to work with a professional costumer.
“The reason I started the festival is so students can work with professionals and get a professional credit on their resume,” festival founder and Professor Linda Bisesti says, “which makes them more marketable in the business.”
Robinson, a 28-year-veteran in the industry, studied at Cal State Fullerton and the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts and worked in the Colorado and Texas Shakespeare festivals. He also directed last year’s Cal Poly Pomona production of “The Tempest.”
“My favorite thing about this is looking at the unique talents each member of the cast and technical crew has and working to bring out the best of what they have,” Robinson says. “I love that I have worked here at Cal Poly Pomona long enough to see performers in multiple roles and designers in multiple productions.”
“A Midsummer’s Night Dream” also has special meaning for Robinson.
“It’s about June 21, which is my birthday,” he says. “It’s also the longest day of the year, which is an important day in many cultures and lends itself to both fantasy and realism.”
The cast will have its first read-through this month, and rehearsals will begin in August.
Ticket reservations are strongly encouraged: The audience has grown with each year, and nearly every show in the 72-seat theater sells out, according to Bisesti.
Performances will take place at 8 p.m. every Saturday in September and 2 p.m. every Sunday. A special Friday performance is scheduled for Sept. 27. Tickets are $12 for Cal Poly Pomona faculty, staff and students and $15 for general admission.
For more information, visit www.southerncaliforniashakespearefestival.org.
(Photo: Amy Hatfield as Helena, Marissa Pitts as Demetrius, Tiana Parker at Lysander, Vanessa Babida as Hermia, in the Southern California Shakespeare Festival presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Cal Poly Pomona.)