A Midsummer Night’s Dream
November 13 — December 23, 2012
On the U.S. Bank Main Stage
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Penny Metropulos
Four days will quickly steep themselves in night;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time
As the royals Theseus and Hippolyta prepare to marry, four young lovers from their Athenian kingdom flee to the forest in the wake of parental disapproval. But in the woodland, these lovers’ lives are complicated upon crossing paths with feuding faerie royalty. As Oberon and Titania bicker over a changeling child, the mischievous Puck and his sprightly accomplices use herbal spells to hilariously complicate the love-mad quartet’s forest idyll.
When a group of local rustics rehearsing a play for the Athens wedding also seek the quiet of the forest, the spells and confusions wrought seem unlikely to ever sort themselves out. But this is William Shakespeare at his most magical and most imaginative, and with a little enchantment, as Puck says “all is mended.”
Tuesday - Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.
Thursday matinees at noon
A full list of performances and dates will appear when you enter the ticketing section of the website.
View the cast and creative team bios.
View the playbill for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Learn more about accessibility options at PCS.
Portland Center Stage’s production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.
Reviews and Features
Holly Johnson | The Oregonian [Review 21 Nov 2012]
In Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” opposites seek balance as a flurry of human and supernatural activity unfolds in an Athenian forest. Logic and nonsense, masculine and feminine, fantasy and reality, intellect and instinct, even tall and short long to be united. And, of course, light and dark are pitted against each other, as, in Portland Center Stage’s powerful production, a giant moon rises upstage against a shadowy night, casting its age-old spell. In this dappled world of waking and dreaming, anything is possible.
Director Penny Metropulos gives us so much to like in this rich offering that it seems niggling to point out an unsettling bit. In the first scene between the upper-crust characters, Theseus and Hippolyta (Richard Baird and Dana Green, who also play fairy royalty Oberon and Titania), some awkward business works against the language. But after that, the evening sparkles with perfection.read more
Bob Hicks | Oregon Arts Watch [Review 21 Nov 2012]
Like a music lover waiting eagerly for a certain shift of cadence in a well-known symphony, I always look forward to that moment in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when Titania, queen of the fairies, wakes from her drug-induced slumber and first sets eyes on donkey-headed Bottom. O revelation! O feckless bliss! Her world turns!
This is a moment of high comedy, the mirror-opposite of the illusion-shattering moment when the little boy pipes up and breaks the spell in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and actors generally milk it for all it’s worth. It’s the moment when the illusion is born, when sense becomes nonsense and any attachment to reality (which is already tenuous, considering that we’ve been frolicking in the forest of the faeries) disappears. Since the audience understands this but neither Titania nor Bottom does, the joke rises and bubbles and takes off.
Yet as funny as it is, the moment also holds a seed of sadness: we’re watching ourselves, or our theatrical stand-ins, in our most addled and ill-advised of states. This moment of faux falling in love, it seems to me, is a quintessential artistic illustration of our capacity for self-deception. We can call it “magic,” and in the play it is, but it strikes me that magic, like hypnotism, won’t work if the capacity for deception, or betrayal, or wickedness, or call it what you will, isn’t already lurking somewhere deep inside, waiting to be awakened. Something within Titania finds itself attracted to this utter ass of a mortal man, and though that something’s usually deeply and safely buried, it’s there nonetheless. The same holds true for the young lovers who hop from infatuation to infatuation under the spell of the drug: Hermia and Helena and Lysander and Demetrius are a mixup of affections and attractions (the boys, predictably, more so than the girls, who seem to know what and who they want), or the magic wouldn’t work. True love is never entirely true. Selfishness and the illusion of adventure persist. We are attracted to, and also repelled by, the idea of the Other.read more
Rebecca Jacobson | Willamette Week [Review 21 Nov 2012]
November and December seem, at first, an odd time to stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s not just the play’s title that contributes to its air of endless summer: Shakespeare stocked his feverishly fanciful comedy with young lovers blind to anything but their own passions and trickster fairies with flowers sprouting from their scalps. But Midsummer is also the Bard’s most fantastical play and one of his most accessible, and by that measure it fits with the season’s tendency for escapist holiday entertainment—not to mention our personal pursuits of extravagance and overindulgence at this time of year. Portland Center Stage’s entertaining production is a welcome addition to the holiday calendar: Jovially directed by Oregon Shakespeare Festival veteran Penny Metropulos, it plays up Midsummer’s mischief without sacrificing warmth.read more
Aaron Scott | Portland Monthly [Review 20 Nov 2012]
The fairy Puck closes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with an apology: “If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended: that you have but slumber’d here, while these visions did appear.” While Portland Center Stage’s production of the Bard’s most famous comedy is far from offensive—only one unexpected pantomime even approaches a racy tone—the incongruous nature of its choices did befuddle, leaving me with the sense that it was Shakespeare set in the time of Disney.
Director Penny Metropulos, a veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival whose last turn at the PCS helm for An Iliad was excellent, chooses an approach to the play made famous by English director Peter Brook in the early 1970s, where the same actors play the mortal king and queen as the fairy king and queen (finely performed here in both garb by Richard Baird and Dana Green), while the performers playing the troupe of actors also double as fairies. The effect is to blur the line between the mortal and the magical, making it seem they are two sides of the same coin, which is the only explanation I can see for the production perplexities to come.read more
Win Goodbody | portland theatre scene [Review 18 Nov 2012]
Most seasons the venerable Oregon Shakespeare Festival puts on 11 shows and ends in early November. But this year a strong argument could be made that Oregon’s largest theatre company is still going strong the week before Thanksgiving on show number 12.
While stages in Ashland may be dark, the Gerding Theater at former OSF satellite Portland Center Stage is blazing bright. And under the masterful direction of OSF veteran Penny Metropulos, with a star-studded cast that includes several other favorites imported from the Rogue Valley down south, PCS has opened a truly outstanding production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM as the centerpiece of its 25th anniversary season.read more
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19 December 2012 & Posted by Kinsley Suer
If you’ve seen our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you might have felt like you experienced a little bit of theatrical magic. But the production crew has to rely on more than pixie dust to bring the fairy world of Titania and Oberon to life. Among other things, the props team was tasked with creating custom insect puppets of colorful butterflies and spiders to complement the atmosphere of the enchanted forest. Check out the transformation!More
03 December 2012 & Posted by KatieO
Dot Hearn, Portland Center Stage’s ASL Coordinator, sheds some light on interpreting The Bard. Sign language interpreters work between two languages: a spoken language and a signed language. That is an obvious statement, yes. But the process becomes more complicated with the addition of foreign words or phrases, or in the case of plays, longer passages of dialogue between characters in a third language.More
29 November 2012 & Posted by KellyC
Puck, the mischievous and terribly clever character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is a prime example of a literary archetype known as The Trickster. Through deceptive—yet hilarious—behavior, Puck’s actions catalyze Shakespeare’s witty story, causing a whirlwind of plot chaos. Similar to Puck, many other famous tricksters have played key roles in numerous stories, from Greek mythology to modern sitcoms. The list is long, but here are a handful of popular pranksters!More