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Shakespeare infused with Bollywood

‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ gets Indian twist, throwback to the Raj

October 25, 2012

By Kelsey Smith

The Cleveland State Department of Theatre and Dance will be performing the well-known Shakespearean play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” but they are putting a Bollywood spin on it to make it their own.

“The first thing I thought of when I decided I was going to do “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was it’s set in ancient Greece, and that doesn’t really interest me,” Dr. Michael Mauldin, theatre department chair and director of the show, explained.

“There’s a mention in the play of andIndian changeling boy that Titania adopted as her own, and I think that was what really got me interested in the Indian theme,” Mauldin said. “Then I thought, well where and when in India, and I thought probably during The Raj — the British occupation of India — and setting it around 1905.”

Once he thought of the Indian theme, Mauldin realized that the elements of Bollywood fit perfectly with the ideals of “Midsummer.”

“Bollywood movies usually have a love theme, it has a lot of spectacle,” Mauldin described. “It has a lot of comedy and it has a lot of fantasy. And that’s exactly what “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is.”

To make sure the Bollywood aspect is executed correctly, the theatre department has been researching Indian culture through different readings, films, and YouTube videos, in addition to working with the local Indian community.

This performance also marks Cleveland State’s first time performing on the Allen Theatre’s Main Stage. To make this performance one of their best yet, cast and crew members have been rehearsing for about three hours a day Monday through Friday for the past several weeks. During rehearsals, the cast spends time working on acting, singing and dancing with experienced mentors, as they will be incorporating original music and dancing into the play.

In addition to rehearsing, cast members have also been hard at work for the past month building the set. Under the guidance of the shop manager, cast members use carpentry and artistic skills to bring the backdrop Mauldin envisioned to life.

“Building scenery, it’s the same techniques you would use to build a house structure, but it really takes an artistic eye and an artistic hand,” Aaron Benson, scene shop supervisor, explained. “It’s often easier to build real things than fake things. So we’re building a castle façade around scaffolding so the actors can climb all over the scaffolding because you would never ever do something like that in reality.”

Though this production has been the focus of the cast and crew members’ lives for the past few months, they haven’t lost any drive to make this one of the department’s best performances. In fact, when they see their hard work paying off, it rejuvenates them and pushes them to work harder.

“It’s a grand undertaking,” Jacob Boyle, a junior in the theatre department, said. “And it’s coming along.”

Cleveland State’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will run from Nov. 8-18 on the Allen Theatre Main Stage. Tickets for the performance are $10 and can be purchased by calling 866-546-1353 or by visiting www.playhousesquare.org.