The University Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream—one of Shakespeare’s most loved, easiest to understand and most performed plays—takes on a decidedly oceanic flavor with the help of director Kristin Kundert-Gibbs and costume designer Ivan Ingermann.
The production will run April 16–19 at 8 p.m. and April 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre. Tickets are $15 and $12 for students and those older than 60.
Shakespeare’s classic, whimsical comedy, set in the woods during a single, magical midsummer night, tangles together the lives of four young lovers, a troupe of bumbling actors and a captivating crew of rivaling fairies to create some of the most hilarious moments ever conceived for the stage.
In designing the fairy aspects of the production, Ingermann, an assistant professor of costume design in the department of theatre and film studies, deliberately avoided clichés. “We did not want to see yet another dancing flower as ‘mustard seed’ grace our stage,” he said, “but yet a different creature both magical and earthy. My research took me to 20,000 leagues below the sea, to the dark world of the bioluminescent living organisms that make up over a third of all life on Earth (by recent scientific accounts). These creatures come from a ‘world of shadows’ much like our fairy king Oberon, ruler of the shadows.”
The costume design seeks to convey the enduring familiarity of this story while celebrating its more haunting implications. Ingermann—who has worked with some of the greatest names in theatrical costuming including Tony Award-winning designers Willa Kim (Grease), Desmond Heeley (The Snow Maiden), William Ivey Long (Chicago) and Susan Hilferty (How To Succeed In Business) and has designed costumes for film, television as well as theatre—said: “In the construction of these costumes we are exploring new and unconventional material more likely to be found at your local toy store or Home Depot than the fabric store. Yet the design aspects of the show were born from the idea of this being both a dream and a nightmare—the fact that dreams are altered reality states in which things that are familiar to us become not so.”
According to Kundert-Gibbs, assistant professor of acting and voice, this deep-sea concept fits perfectly with Celtic fairy lore, in which spirits are usually depicted as coming from water.