A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“Cupid is a knavish lad.”
“Cupid is a knavish lad.”
Kings, queens, fairies, lovers, and sprites all collide in an enchanted forest one midsummer night proving that “the course of true love never did run smooth.” One of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies takes us on a beguiling odyssey full of mistaken identities, misguided passions, love potions, and magic spells. Fall in love all over again — but watch your step!
“There is, of course, no such thing as a foolproof play, but A Midsummer Night's Dream comes about as close as anything written in the last 400 years.” –The New York Times
Synopsis and Notes on A Midsummer Night's Dream
Notes on Shakespeare’s Magical Comedy
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of the most commonly performed works of the Bard, and for good reason. It is a successful comedy, and therefore undoubtedly an audience pleaser, but it is also unique, not only from the rest of Shakespeare’s comedies, but from his entire collection of dramatic works. Although Shakespeare usually receives credit for the rich stories and interweaving plots that compose his plays, the vast majority of these are influenced by and borrowed from existing plays, narrative poetry, historical chronicles, or other primary source material. By contrast, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a largely original work.
As one of Shakespeare’s early comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was probably composed in 1595 or 1596. Most scholars believe that it was the Bard’s original wedding play, and that it was written for entertainment to accompany a marriage celebration. Furthermore, despite the elusiveness of the specific day or month of the summer night, the title still suggests that the argument of the play is associated with two traditional English country festivals: May-Day and summer solstice. The themes in the play generally accommodate the light-hearted merriment that is established by this setting, but there are of course layered intellectual influences as well. For example, Chaucer’s “The Knights Tale” from Canterbury Tales was a prominent influence in the story. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is also evident both in the overarching theme of transformation, and in the introduction of the story of Pyramus and Thisby, which is then butchered in a performance by the players in the final scene of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
This comedy is perhaps the most fantastical of Shakespeare’s plays, and most scholars agree that, if it is not the product of his finest dramatic genius, the Bard certainly had a good time writing it. Despite its celebratory purpose, however, many of the fantastical elements of the play are both whimsical and strangely dark. The nearby woods that encompass the fairy kingdom are traditionally English, as well as mythological. The mysterious aspect of the kingdom and its mischievous creatures attribute an unfamiliar and potentially threatening aura to the world of the play. Of course, the enchantment of the audience and the perspective that we gain into the world of magical sprites primarily serves to satirize the classic conundrum of powerless lovers. In fact, the characters of the lovers are only slightly individualized, so that they may further the plot; their larger purpose, however, is to provide a generalized image of the unreason of love, and to prove that love is governed more by nature and the seasons than by the contents of the lovers’ hearts.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written between 1594 and 1598. It has three interlocking plots, all involving marriages. The first is the planned marriage between Duke Theseus and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta; the second involves a mad scramble between four young lovers who fall in and out of love with each other in the depths of the forest; and the third involves the marriage between Titania and Oberon, two fairies who reside in the forest of Athens.
The play’s first scene shows us Hermia, a spirited young woman who refuses to marry Demetrius, the man her father (Egeus) has chosen for her. Egeus calls on Athenian law, which states that a girl must accept her father’s choice of a suitor or else face death. Theseus feels sorry for Hermia and gives her another choice—to live forever as a virgin and worship the goddess Diana.
Hermia is not fond of either choice, and decides to elope with her lover, Lysander, to the forest. She tells her friend Helena of the plan that she and Lysander have hatched. Helena, recently rejected by the man of her dreams, Demetrius, decides to use the information to try to win him back. She reveals Hermia’s plans to Demetrius, but the information backfires when Demetrius decides to pursue Hermia and Lysander into the forest. The lovelorn Helena runs after him.
Next is the storyline shared by Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the fairies in the forest. Titania has refused to give up to Oberon her Indian changeling boy, whom Oberon wishes to have as his henchman. To punish her, Oberon orders the fairy Puck to wipe a love potion from a purple flower on Titania’s eyelids while she is sleeping, so that when she wakes, she will fall in love with the first vile creature she sees. The two plots converge when Oberon witnesses Demetrius cruelly insulting Helena, who is still in hot pursuit of him. Oberon orders Puck to wipe the potion on Demetrius’ eyes while he sleeps, so that when he opens his eyes he will see Helena and fall in love with her. But Puck makes a mistake, putting the potion on Lysander’s eyes instead. When Lysander awakens, he happens to see Helena run by, and falls in love with her! Oberon sees this and commands Puck to put the flower potion on the right young man’s eyes. Puck finds Demetrius asleep, puts the love potion on, and sure enough he wakes up just as Helena arrives—pursued by Lysander—and, of course, immediately falls for her as well! Both young men are now in love with Helena, and Hermia can’t believe it, since neither young man wanted Helena at all before the night set in. In fact, Helena herself can’t believe it and thinks the boys are playing a cruel joke on her by only pretending to be in love. After enjoying the confusion for a while, Oberon orders Puck to undo his mistake, and, once the lovers fall asleep on the forest floor, he reapplies his potion so Lysander falls back in love with Hermia.
Things move from the sublime to the ridiculous when Titania awakens from a sleep in which she has been “treated” to Puck’s love potion. She falls in love with an ass! “Ass” is another word for a donkey or a foolish person, and in this case the ass is Bottom, one of the “rude mechanicals” who are busy rehearsing a play they want to perform at Theseus’ and Hippolyta’s wedding. Puck’s mischief has been getting out of control, and he has transformed Bottom’s head so that when Titania opens her eyes to the vision of Bottom, she is in love with an ass!
Eventually, however, all the plots untangle and everything works out. Oberon gets the changeling boy he wants and all is well between the fairies. When Theseus and Hippolyta come to the forest for a morning hunt, they awaken the four young lovers. Since Demetrius no longer loves Helena, Theseus overrules Egeus’ edict and declares that Lysander should marry Hermia and Demetrius should marry Helena. The lovers decide that they must have been caught in a dream, and, at the wedding feast, they all sit merrily and watch the ridiculous version of the tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe put on by the rude mechanicals.
A condensed biography and career timeline of William Shakespeare.
Although he may not have invented it, Shakespeare famously employed the "play-within-a-play" in several of his works. See how the Bard used this metatheatrical device in A Midsummer Night's Dream to both reference and parody a classical Ovidian myth.
Calling all readers! Multnomah County Library put together a reading list inspired by our production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Egeus & Others
Lauren Bloom Hanover*
Hippolyta & Others
Nicole Marie Green*
Hermia, Others, & Fight Captain
Tyler Andrew Jones*
Helena, Others, & Dance Captain
Theseus & Others
Lysander & Others
Demetrius, Others, & Music Captain
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Luke Norby & Five OHM
Sound Designer & Original Compositions
Muffie Delgado Connelly
Shakespearean Language Coach
Amanda Vander Hyde
Assistant Stage Manager
Kristen Mun-Van Noy
Chip Miller & RaChelle Schmidt
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
The Director is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.
The Scenic, Costume, Lighting, and Sound Designers in LORT theaters are represented by United Scenic Artists, Local USA-829 of the IATSE.
Orion Bradshaw, Assistant Director
Kyle Colgan, A1
Diane Trapp, Craft Artisian
Catelyn Chism & Miranda Nolten, Wig Artisians
Foggy M. Bell & Natalie Scott, Stitchers
Claudia LaRue, First Hand
Naragkar Glover, Costume Painter
Corey McCarey, Carpenter
Roy Joshua Antonio, Nia Fillo, Zachary Horn, Abby Jacquin, Allison Knight-Blaine, Steph Landtiser, Dug Martell, Kelli McCloskey, Esther McFaden, Oliver Pemberton, Connor Ward, Electricians
Sound design recorded and engineered at ScoopFlow Studios
Thrilled to be making his Portland Center Stage debut. Other performance credits include Florizal in A Winter’s Tale, The Moon in Blood Wedding at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Iago in Othello, Richard III in Richard III, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Southwest Shakespeare in Arizona. Exiles, The Laramie Project, Love! Valour! Compassion! at Artist Repertory Theatre. Mr. Western in Emma the Musical for Arizona Theatre Company. Bordertown at Actors Theatre of Phoenix. Men on the Verge of a His-Panic Breakdown- Borderlands. Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins, Shrek in Shrek, Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz, Captain Hook in Peter Pan for the Northwest Children’s Theatre. Most Recently, he directed The Inheritance part 1 and 2 for Triangle Productions.
Lauren Bloom is pleased to return to Portland Center Stage after appearing in Macbeth in 2019. Previous credits include The Actors Company Theatre (NY), the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Capital Stage (Sacramento), and Just Theater (Berkeley). Locally she has appeared with Profile Theatre, CoHo Productions, and in staged readings at Artists Repertory Theatre and Portland Shakespeare Project. She received her M.F.A. from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. She is currently the Executive Director of Portland Revels. For K&O.
Nicole is a Pacific Northwest-based actor, director, and theater educator. She grew up in Nyack, New York, where she began studying theater at a young age within the Rockland County community. She earned her undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts and Public Relations from Flagler College in Saint Augustine, Florida. After a few years living and working in NYC, she decided to head midwest to pursue an M.F.A. in Acting and Directing at UMKC, where she has had the opportunity to work at KCRep, The Coterie Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Spinning Tree Theatre, New Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, among others. Nicole has been a working multi-hyphenate artist for over a decade. Currently, she resides in Portland, OR, where she loves to teach yoga, cook, walk her dog, and find the funkiest veggies at the farmer's market. Nicole is a proud member of Actor's Equity.
Tyler is beyond thrilled to return and close the 22/23 PCS season with A Midsummer Night's Dream after starring as Michael in the season opener tick, tick … BOOM! A multidisciplinary theatre artist, writer, and teacher, Tyler previously understudied both Hedwig and Yitzhak in Hedwig & the Angry Inch. Tyler has had the opportunity to work on stage at Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Portland Playhouse, in New York City at 54 Below, The Cell Theater, New World Stages, and in Egypt at both the Cairo and Alexandria Opera Houses. Additionally, as a playwright, some of his most notable works include The Marks You Leave which, produced in part with Ronnie Lacroute, premiered at the 20th Annual International New York Fringe Festival, and Even Faster Than a Blink, which receive its first public reading at PCS's JAW New Play Festival last year. Special Thanks to Marissa, Muffie, and this beautiful company! He is a proud member of AEA and The Dramatist Guild of America. IG: @t.andrew.jones
Jennifer received her classical acting training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and her improvisation training from Paul Sills at his Wisconsin farm. She is currently co-artistic director of Original Practice Shakespeare Festival (OPS Fest) in Portland. Previously seen at the Armory in Redwood, Jennifer has been seen locally at Profile Theatre, Third Rail Repertory, Portland Playhouse, & Artists Repertory Theatre, on television with Leverage, Hawaii, Grimm, & a Super Bowl LV commercial, and on film in Water Man, Thin Skin, & Scrapper. Lanier lives with her wife, two sons, a tornado of a kitten, and an anorexic tortoise. jenniferlanieracts.com
Treasure is thrilled to be returning to PCS for A Midsummer Night's Dream in their first Shakespearean role. Hailing from the East Coast but now residing in the West, Treasure is honored to be a part of the Pacific Northwest performance community. Recent credits include Sometimes I Think About Dying (Sundance), It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (Portland Center Stage), Chicken & Biscuits (Portland Playhouse), August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (Portland Center Stage), Barbecue (Portland Playhouse), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play, and Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Portland Center Stage).
Andy is an actor, improviser, and educator based in Portland, originally from Kansas City, MO. After earning his B.F.A. in Acting and Directing from Avila University, he went on to complete the M.F.A. program in Acting at Purdue University. Currently, he is the Associate Artistic Director at Curious Comedy Theater, where he also teaches and performs. As an actor, he has worked with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Coterie Theatre, and Spinning Tree Theatre. His previous PCS credit is as an understudy for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He would like to thank Nicole and his parents for their continued support.
Jesse Weil, former cat owner, is grateful to be back at PCS after helping to open the season as Jon in ‘Tick, Tick…Boom’. Hailed by at least one of his parents as “a very special guy”, Jesse is also a passionate writer and teacher. Other recent credits include the 1st National Tour of Fiddler on the Roof (Motel Kamzoil), The Other Side of Paradise at Ars Nova (Scott Fitzgerald), The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon (Josiah), and the debut of his one-person show, Adult Small, at 54 Below. He’s feeling very lucky for the opportunity to collaborate with this brilliant collection of artists, and he’s sending love to his family and friends for all of their support and inspiration. Say hi! @jesseaweil jesseweil.com
An actor/poet/playwright from here in town, Ken is joyful to be joining these absurdities with you. Credits include Maz and Bricks (Corrib Theatre); The Journal of Ben Uchida (Oregon Children’s Theatre); 1984 (Artists Rep); Twelfth Night (Oregon Adventure Theatre); Chitra, the Girl Prince (NW Children’s Theatre); and Mojada, A Medea in Los Angeles (Portland Center Stage/Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Having recently completed PETE’s Institute of Contemporary Performance, he’s excited to make more new work. Ken is a Reed College graduate and deeply enjoys reading people’s astrology. His debut book of poetry, Monster Colored Glasses, is available to purchase from his website yoshikawaken.com! @yoshakeawaken
William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet, and actor. He is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.
Marissa is in her fifth year as artistic director of Portland Center Stage. Select directing credits include tick, tick … BOOM! by Jonathan Larson, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Simon Stephens (Portland Center Stage); Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff (The Public Theater; world premiere at KCRep); Man in Love by Christina Anderson (KCRep); 77% by Rinne Groff (San Francisco Playhouse); Precious Little by Madeleine George (Shotgun Players); The Lily’s Revenge (Act II) by Taylor Mac (Magic Theatre); and The Late Wedding by Christopher Chen (Crowded Fire Theater). Marissa was nominated for Best Director by BroadwayWorld San Francisco and the Bay Area Critics Circle, and she held the Bret C. Harte Directing Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Peter is a scenographer and media artist whose work has been presented both nationally and internationally. He was a founding curator of the Incubator Arts Project in NYC, won an Obie Award for the scenic design of Untitled Mars (this title may change), and a Bessie Award for the visual design of This Was the End. Recent Portland credits include designs for The Americans, Apoptosis, The Cherry Orchard, Fronteriza, The Weather Room, Sweat, Indecent. Previously with PCS, he designed the sets for Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. He holds an M.F.A. from CalArts, is a professor at Reed College, and is a member of the Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble (PETE).
Sarita was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her more recent works include projects such as Death of a Salesman, Broadway; Drinking in America Audible Minetta Lane Theater; Theater of the Mind, Denver Center of Performing Arts; Elyria, Atlantic Theater; A Bright Room Called Day, Public Theater; Joy and Pandemic, Huntington Theater Company; Fefu and Her Friends, American Conservatory Theater. In the dance world, Sarita has worked with choreographers such as Liz Lerman and Edisa Weeks. M.F.A. in design from Tisch School of Design. Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut and lectures at Princeton University. She recently was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design from The National Black Theater Festival 2022. Lily Award recipient 2020.
Carl is delighted to return to PCS after designing 2019's Macbeth. Recently around town: Frida (Portland Opera), Snapshots (Broadway Rose), Sanctuaries (Third Angle), Magellanica (Artists Rep), Fires in the Mirror (Profile), John (Third Rail). Outside of Portland: Arena Stage, Boston ICA, Ars Nova, ADF, and Oklahoma Contemporary, as well as touring production for Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver, & The National. Carl has also served as a light artist at Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival and is a founding member of Woodshed Collective (New York, NY). Education: Vassar College. Member: United Scenic Artists Local USA 829. www.carlfaber.com
Luke is thrilled to be back at PCS for the first time since designing projections for Jordan Harrison’s Futura in 2011. Notable design credits with Five Ohm Productions include the world premiere staged adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me with Kamilah Forbes at the Apollo in Harlem, The Kennedy Center, The Atlanta Symphony Hall, and the eventual subject of the HBO special of the same name. The Bands Visit at the Atlantic Theater. Cambodian Rock Band by Lauren Yee at Signature Theater, The Alley, Berkley Rep and currently on Tour. Somewhere Fun with Anne Kaufman at the Vineyard Theater. Luke offers gratitude to ScoopFlow Studios, The Blur, and Scott James but mostly his EXTRAORDINARY wife Stephanie, with whom he shares Arlo&Heron.
Muffie is a choreographer, performer, and movement researcher. Her performance work is part of her activist practice, and in both arenas, she is informed by her identity as a Chicago-born xicana mother. Her work has been presented across the United States at Links Hall (Chicago), Packer Schopf Gallery (Chicago), The Art Institute of Chicago, Movement Research Festival (New York), The Gibney Dance Center (New York), and in Portland at White Bird, Performance Works Northwest, and the Newmark Theater. She has previously choreographed for Portland Center Stage in Earth Without Borders/Tierra Sin Fronteras as well as tick, tick … BOOM! She is the recipient of awards from the Ford Foundation (New York), Illinois Arts Council and the Regional Arts and Culture Council (Portland). Currently, Muffie teaches at Bodyvox and is a yearly guest teacher at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is one of five artistic leaders of the FLOCK Dance Center. IG: @muffiedelgadoconnelly
Jonathan immigrated to the USA in 2021. He has worked extensively as an actor in England since 1985, including major roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's Globe, the National Theatre and in London's West End. He has also taught Shakespeare and acting as a guest professor at Duke University NC, ACT in San Francisco, and RADA in England, among others. He has a lifelong fascination with the challenge of unlocking the rich resources of Shakespeare's text and is delighted and excited to be working with Marissa and such a talented company on this magical play.
Amanda graduated from Western Oregon University in 2018 with a B.F.A. in technical production. She is a freelance intimacy choreographer in the Portland area. She has worked as an intimacy professional on many pieces in the past season at Portland Center Stage, including Rent and Ms. Holmes & Ms. Watson – Apt. 2B. She works as the resident intimacy choreographer at Valley Shakespeare Company and has worked in various spaces as an intimacy coach to young professionals. Currently, she is also the production manager of MediaRites Productions, one of the stage managers in rep at Oregon Children's Theatre, and on the stage management team at Portland Center Stage for their 2022-2023 season. In her ample spare time, she is also a friend, a wife, and a cat mom.
Janine is thrilled to return for her seventh season at Portland Center Stage. She has been a stage manager and production manager for more than 20 years on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and on tour. Some of her favorites include tick, tick ... BOOM!, Rent, Frida ... A Self Portrait, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Macbeth, A Christmas Memory/Winter Song, Wild & Reckless (Portland Center Stage); Sweeney Todd (Portland Opera); The Lion King (Broadway); The Graduate (starring Morgan Fairchild), Cats, The Vagina Monologues, Jekyll & Hyde, Show Boat (National Tours); The Daily Show with Jon Stewart “Democalypse 2012 Republican National Convention.” Proud NYU graduate and AEA member.
Portland Center Stage: Debut. Gillian recently graduated from UC San Diego with her M.F.A. in stage management, and is delighted to debut at PCS with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Selected credits include: La Jolla Playhouse: Here There are Blueberries. The Old Globe: Word Up; Lunar New Year 2023. Additional selected credits: Dance Nation, Men on Boats, In the Red and Brown Water (UCSD); Newsies (Theatre Lab); A People’s History (Capitol Fringe Festival); Daddy Long Legs (Monumental Theatre Co). M.F.A. from UC San Diego.
Kamilah is a playwright, dramaturg, and educator originally from North Carolina. She holds a B.F.A. in theater education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and was an NC teaching fellow. Kamilah has spent several seasons at celebrated regional theaters across the country, including Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, Asolo Repertory Theater in Sarasota, FL, and Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ. Her play Nick & The Prizefighter was a semifinalist for the 2022 L. Arnold Weissberger Award, the 2021 Bay Area Playwright’s Festival, and it won the 2021 Urbanite Theater Modern Works Festival.
Orion is a Storyteller, Licensed Teacher, Equity Facilitator and Social Justice Advocate; he is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity, the National Education, and the Oregon Education Associations. Orion spent 6 seasons altogether as an Actor and Teacher at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, relocating to his beloved Portland in 2011 to co-found Post5 Theatre. He then earned his Master of Arts in Teaching degree from his alma mater Southern Oregon University in 2019, while also training with the Racial Equity Coalition, among others. Orion has been a professional Performer and Teacher for 16 years, and currently serves as a licensed Substitute Teacher for Portland area schools, as well as a Facilitator with Matthew Reynolds Consulting, LLC. May our Learning never cease, and may this magical Story brighten your world! mrrconsulting.org/; facebook.com/thebardparty; facebook.com/orionbradshaw.artist
"Such a talented cast, using so many skills — from physical comedy to interpretive dance to (obviously) Shakespearian verse with contemporary delivery. We were so impressed!"
"The play's the thing! In addition, great ushers, excellent cocktail, great set, good acting, good choreography, creative costumes. Loved the fact that the costumes defined the characters' gender rather than the physical attributes of the actors."
"I loved the inclusivity of casting as well. Each actor seemed perfectly suited for their role."
"The 4 lovers were great- brought new life to characters we’ve seen before, and clearly had built a group connection."
"The best “play within a play” section of MND I’ve seen."
"Underneath the spellbinding forest locale – designed by Peter Ksander – four lovers, a bumbling band of theater makers, and a troupe of fiendish fairies bring true magic to life." —Renegade PNW
"Portland Center Stage's fresh take on Shakespeare's comedy is a nimble, playful, genderfluid, and not at all didactic delight." —Oregon ArtsWatch
"It’s the perfect play to send patrons off into summer since the plot focuses on escaping the oppressions of the city by romping freely through an enchanted forest." —WilliametteWeek
In The News
“Sometimes, you do feel like you have to hide an aspect of yourself to acclimate and to assimilate. It feels really nice to be able to just walk in the building and know that wherever I’m at, there will be space held for me.” —Treasure Lunan in an interview with Oregon ArtsWatch
Our incredibly talented cast took out some time to play a guessing game with Shakespearean Slang!
Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).