The North Dakota Shakespeare Festival theater company is presenting “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on July 30-Aug. 1 and Aug. 4-7, at University Park, 25th Street and University Avenue.
All performances begin at 7:30 p.m., except on Sunday, Aug. 1, when it starts at 2 p.m. Attendees should bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. A food truck will be on site at each performance.
The event is free; donations will be gratefully accepted, said Stephanie Faatz Murry, founder and producing artistic director of North Dakota Shakespeare Festival. Reservations are required to keep the crowd size at a safe number, she said. For more information, visit www.northdakotashakespeare.com/reservations.
A cast of nine professional performers from throughout the country will present the classic comedy that will provide “an evening of merriment and mayhem” for all ages, Murry said.
The show is directed by Rebecca Bailey, assistant professor of theatre at The University of the Ozarks. She studied Shakespeare and performance at Mary Baldwin University, completing her master of fine arts degree in directing at the University of South Dakota.
Audience members “will enjoy the colorful, playful world we have created for our production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ ” said Murry. “Most of the actors play multiple roles and it is especially fun to watch them physically and vocally transform from one character to the next.”
The actors and technicians for this production are from North Dakota, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Florida, Arkansas and the Bahamas, said Murry, assistant professor of theatre arts at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.
Murry was a UND faculty member when she founded North Dakota Shakespeare Festival four years ago. For those who are not steeped in Shakespeare’s work, there are myths she would like to dispel.
“The most common quibble we hear about Shakespeare is that the language is difficult to understand,” she said. “I am a big believer that Shakespeare is meant to be heard, not just seen on the page. When you see and hear it performed by actors who have a solid understanding of the text, it makes it far easier to follow the story -- and loads more fun.”
Among the show’s actors and crew members are several who live in or have been involved in or theater productions in this area. Camilla Morrison, costume designer and teaching assistant professor at UND, is costume designer for the show. Emmalyn Danielson, costume assistant, is a Red River High School student who’s been involved in theater since seventh grade. Most recently, she assisted in costuming for RRHS’s production of “Children of Eden.”
Robert Cooper, who plays the roles of Demetrius and Flute, is a rising senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in musical theater at UND.
Tyler Folkedahl, who plays Puck, graduated from UND with a degree in musical theater performance. He also has performed in North Dakota Shakespeare’s production of “Hamlet.”
Veronica Lee Folkedahl, performing as Hippolyta and Peaseblossom, is returning for her fourth season with North Dakota Shakespeare Festival. She also appeared in “Romeo & Juliet,” “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Hamlet.”
Kyle Mason, in the roles of Bottom and Egeus, is a rising senior in the UND Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program in musical theater. Piper Sommer, in the roles of Helena and Staveling, is studying musical theater at UND.
Alex Rice, the show’s stage manager, is a rising senior at UND where she is pursuing a degree in design and technical theatre, with a special interest in stage management.
North Dakota Shakespeare was founded in 2017, with the mission to bring professional theater to the community and to all audience members regardless of economic status -- a goal that is “fostered by the belief that access to the arts is a human right,” Murry said.
The productions are funded by generous granting organizations and donations, she said.
North Dakota Shakespeare Festival is fiscally sponsored by the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region.