A Midsummer Night's Dream in Chinese
I love well constructed anything – and it was initially the detailed handmade costumes that caught my eye in this reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But as I settled into the performance I came to realize that the qualities that I liked about the costumes were the same qualities I enjoyed throughout the performance. Held at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center this a full fledge Chinese/ English bilingual production was a carefully crafted coproduction between the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts.
What a work of art!
photo by Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
Did I mention the costumes? Amazing. I loved Titania – the fairy Queen’s costumes best – her headpiece was elegant, elaborate and STUNNING.
photo by Stanford Barouh
The portrayal of the characters? Exquisite -- hard to imagine before I experienced the play. Have you ever read the menu at a fusion cuisine restaurant and found yourself thinking ‘Hummm… I don’t know about that’ but then your server comes out with a dish that blows you away? The performance was like that – these actors stayed true to their Shakespearian characters yet incorporated Chinese culture. Mind blowing.
The set design was beyond creative and incorporated giant ribbons hanging from the ceilings that acted like forest trees on which the the fairy performers danced and defied gravity. Puck also defied gravity throughout the play, as did his elaborate costume – which somehow stayed perfectly intact as he flip-flopped and back-tucked throughout the performance. The lighting and sound created the magical mood of the forest and emphasized the enchanting moments where Puck cast magical love spells over the various characters.
photo by Stanford Barouh
Now, I don’t speak Chinese – at all. Have you ever watched a foreign film with out subtitles? Then you know how useful body language is – all the actors all had a great gift for body language. There also were four BIG plasma screen TV’s -- two on each side of the stage that had subtitles. Personally I kept getting distracted trying to read the subtitles and then watch the play — so I just watched the play and thoroughly enjoyed the acting and stage sets. I know the plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and even though I couldn’t understand the language I could understand the acting which was superb. My two favorite scenes were the slow motion girl-fight between Helena and Hermina -- it felt Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-esque — and the scene with a perfectly choreographed sword fight that incorporated acrobatics between Lysander and Demetrius. Well-choreographed fighting is just sooo sexy.
All in all – I am certain that you will love it! My best advice: go see it at the University of Maryland this weekend before it travels off to Beijing for a series of performances. Get your tickets HERE!
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