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Fall in Love Headfirst at Fort Salem’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"

By Sophie Yalkezian

FORT SALEM — If you’ve ever felt like Shakespeare went over your head, Sarah Murphy has some advice: “Don’t overthink it.”


The director sat down to chat with InPlay days before Fort Salem Theater's November 16th opening of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Murphy is directing the play after years of studying the famous bard as an actor, director, and school librarian.


Murphy says novices shouldn’t worry about translating Shakespearean language in their heads as they take in a performance. Instead, just let it land.


“If you don’t understand every single word, that doesn’t mean you can’t catch the emotional urgency of the story, or connect it to something in your own life, or another story,” she said.


And what better production to start with or enjoy again than the comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”? The classic story follows two groups who run away to an enchanted forest and find themselves manipulated into hilarious dynamics by a precocious young fairy named Puck.


This production runs just under two hours with one intermission.


Murphy told us that what she enjoys most about Shakespeare is that, even all these centuries later, every storyteller can find a new way into the work. She uses the production’s unique real-life timing of a northeast November to inform hers.


“We’ve set the beginning at a ski lodge in a place that could be Vermont,” she said.


Along with that, she centers the piece on one text in particular: a monologue delivered by Titania, queen of the fairies.


“She’s saying the way they’re fighting is messing up the human world — summer is in winter, crops are being flooded, there are storms and heavy wind.” While this monologue is normally chopped up by other directors, Murphy retained it for its poignancy regarding the modern-day shifts of climate change.


The cast is an eclectic mix of actors, some with decades of experience and some that are newer to the stage, from eighth grader Juno Catlin playing Puck to two local English teachers who utilize the play in their classroom. Murphy says the show “runs the gamut of what community theater can be.”


“[Shakespeare's] plays were never intended to be read, they were always intended to be experienced live.”


Don’t miss your chance to see "A Midsummer Night's Dream" live by going to the Fort Salem Theater website for tickets. Use the code NYVTdream for $5 off.


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