Shakespeare set his play long ago in Athens, Greece. This “town-and-gown” production also takes place long ago — in our own Athens. The story unfolds in 1822, the year of Athens’ founding. The female lovers, their families, and their leader, Theseus, are the Cherokee who lived in this area for generations. The male lovers wooing the women are mountain men who have come down from the hills. They have new neighbors, the Scotch-Irish American settlers who have come seeking new lands and a new life.
Shakespeare’s famous fairies are the native woodland spirits who filled the primeval forests before they were clear-cut, driving the fairies out much as the Cherokee would be driven out.
However, this story takes place before these tragedies; when Cherokee, white settlers, and the forest spirits coexisted in and around Athens. The music of Felix Mendelssohn is featured throughout the production.
The play is directed by Dr. Eric Love, assistant professor of theater and speech. Musical direction is provided by Dr. Nathan Windt, assistant professor of music.
The cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a mixture of student and community actors including Bobby B. as Bottom; Johnathon Lamb as Demetrius; G. David Brown as Egeus; Annie Hopson as Helena; Aislin Kate Anderson as Hermia; Lisa Latham as Hippolyta; Merrick Gray as Lysander; Aaron Martel as Oberon; Julia Fioravanti as Philostrate; Kelly Borwick as Puck; Dave Siklosi as Theseus; and Maria Holder as Titania. The townspeople and fairies are played by Alex Boris, Jason Carusillo, Brianna Dorn, Katie Smith and Steve Walker.
Show dates are April 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee April 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and are available by phone at 423-745-8781; at www.athensartscouncil.org; and at The Arts Center, 320 N. White St. in Athens.