About This Clip
Sonho de uma Noite de verão (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
In the program notes that accompany Teatro Praga’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, members of the audience discover that what they are about to see “is a celebration in the pursuit of happiness and a tribute to power to the sound of Purcell and with a contemporary flavor, our flavor”. The notes further describe how “the production wants to provide enjoyment and relaxation” as, after all, “Why theater when all you want to think about is Summer and Love?” Those sitting in the theater will soon discover that this is not what one would consider a traditional adaptation of Shakespeare, in the sense that the text has been erased and rewritten, while Purcell’s Fairy Queen and a number of contemporary plastic artists have been called upon to reinterpret the bard’s work.
Teatro Praga, a collective whose members, at the time of this production, included André E. Teodósio, José Maria Vieira Mendes, Cláudia Jardim, Patrícia da Silva, and Pedro Penim, is known for its non-conventional type of theater. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first presented at Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), one of Portugal’s main theatrical venues and was later presented at the Maison de la Culture de Seine-Saint-Denis festival (MC93) in Bobigny, France.
The fact that Teatro Praga’s adaptations only use Shakespeare’s words from time to time has led critics to consider that the company is working against Shakespeare (or, for admirers of Purcell, against his compositions). However, the game that is being played with the audience is one that tests their knowledge of the play, alluding to ideas present in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This adaptation reproduces actions and redefines certain aspects of the play, while remixing its references with those of popular culture.
In this piece, the actors are confined to a dressing room on stage, which the spectator only sees through a projection (this room is an allusion to the green room in television shows in which one waits to be called to the live show). The physical presence of the actors is thus denied or mediated through cameras, and their words are not poetic and seldom quote from Shakespeare’s text. Bawdy language is at times used but not, as in Shakespeare, to portray the adventures of minor characters or to identify and place them socially in relation to noble characters. In Praga’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, characters’ words could be described as the type of banal conversation that contemporary lovers have on reality television shows, which, though mundane, use language to which people can relate. These conversations intentionally disrupt and dislocate the poetry in Shakespearean lines. The fact that such conversations appear in between Purcell’s music and other references reminds us of someone sitting at home watching television and constantly changing channels. Teatro Praga’s production appears as a collection of moments in which some, such as the staging of Purcell’s songs, belong to what could be described as high culture, while others allude to and replicate the everyday popular experience of television, of text messages, and ordinary people falling in and out of love. The purpose of these adaptations is not to be faithful to content, but to ponder on how to make sense of Shakespeare’s legacy in this day and age. In their use of playfulness and irony, and while trying to be agreeable to the audience, perhaps the critique being made is also of a certain notion of what theater is or should be.
Script in Portuguese adapted by Pedro Penim, André E. Teodósio, and J.M.Vieira Mendes.
The company website has additional information about this production.
Cast and Crew
Actors: André E. Teodósio, Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Bento, Joana Barrios, Joana Manuel, Patrícia da Silva and Rodolfo Teixeira
Soloists: Ana Quintans (Soprano), Rossano Ghira (Counter Tenor), João Sebastião (Tenor) and Nuno Dias (Bass).
Olisipo Choir: Elsa Cortes (Soprano), Luísa Tavares (Contralto – July 3), Lucinda Gerhard (Contralto – July 4), Diogo Cerdeira (Tenor), Armando Possante (Bass) .
Three fairies: Leonor Robert, Rafaela Albuquerque and Rita Fonseca.
Film crew: Carlos Eduardo, Cláudia Morais, Francisco Moreira, João Martins, Leonor Noivo, Nuno Morão and Tiago Oliveira.
Guest artists: Ana Pérez-Quiroga, Catarina Campino, Javier Núñez Gasco, João Pedro Vale, Leo Ramos, Miguel Viegas, Rogério Nuno Costa, The End of Irony (Diogo Lopes, Ivo Silva, Miguel Cunha, Rita Ricardo Morais and Teixeira) Vasco Araújo and Vincente Trindade.
Musical Director: Marcos Magalhães.
Video Director: André Godinho.
Light Design: Daniel Worm d’Assumpção.
Sound: Ricardo Guerreiro.
Set Design: Bárbara Falcão Fernandes.
House: Filipe Carneiro (Triplinfinito).
Costume Design: Carla Cardoso.
Production: Bruno Coelho, Cristina Correia and Sara Maurício.
Assistance: José Nunes.
Tejo’s Musicians: Álvaro Pinto (Violin-concertmaster), Xu Na(Violin I), Raquel Cravino (Violin I), Denys Stetsenko (Violin II), Zófia Pająk (Violin II), Raquel Massadas (Viola), Lúcio Studer (Viola), Paulo Gaio Lima (Cello), Xurxo Varela (Viola da gamba), Filipa Meneses (Viola da Gamba), Duncan Fox (Violone), Carolino Career (Bassoon), Luís Marques (Oboe I), Andreia Carvalho (Oboe II) Antonio Quítalo (Trumpet I), Bruno Fernandes (Trumpet II), Hugo Sanches (Theorbo), Ricardo Pedro Leitão (Theorbo), Joaquim Lopes (Percussion), Marta Araújo (Clavier I), Marcos Magalhaes (Clavier II).
Time Out, June 2010
by Ana Dias Ferreira
When it became known that Teatro Praga would stage one of the most known of Shakespeare’s play, curiosity was immediate. Who has been aware of the company’s work, which recently joined the playwright José Maria Vieira Mendes, knows that nothing is safe from the fury and energy of the group. Much less the classics, whether it’s a shakespearen comedy or The Miser, by Moliere.
This is visible even when, at five minutes of a Midsummer’s Night Dream, which debuts this Saturday at 21:00 at the Great Auditorium CCB, the players laugh at the names of characters and tell jokingly: “Demetrius? Nobody is called Demetrius? And Theseus? Think someone is called Theseus? “The challenge of taking on Shakespeare’s comedy was released by Mega Ferreira, President of CCB, when the company was invited to be the associated theatre company of 2009/2010 season. Stung, the group began to read about the play and came to Henry Purcell, who composed an opera, The Fairy Queen, from Midsummer’s Night Dream. “At so we thought: why not mix things up?” says actress Cláudia Jardim. And that’s how, beside the Shakespearean characters, there is an orchestra playing live arias from Purcell – Músicos do Tejo – and there is a choir, the Olisipo, besides various moments by commissioned artists such as Rogério Nuno Costa, Vasco Araújo, Catarina Campino, challenged by the company.
“Purcell made a free adaptation of the play and created what we called masks, which are moments that have nothing to do with rest”, says Jardim. “We wanted to keep it and the moments of artists are our masks.” Those moments are shown in the proscenium arch, while the rest, almost the entire narrative takes place in a closed house that the public sees only through a live video projected on a screen, performed by André Godinho. That is, the players – André E. Teodósio, Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Bento, Joana Barrios, Joana Manuel, Patricia da Silva and Rodolfo Teixeira – are almost always in this house, and what that the audience sees is what is filmed.
Of the shakespearean play remained the two mismatched couples from the start – Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius – while the enchanted forest where the couples flee remained Titania, the queen of the fairies, and a magic potion that makes who ever drinks it to fall in love with the first person to come.
But otherwise, everything is different: Theseus is a kind of television host, interviewing Helena about her heart pain and receives a new theater group, The End of Irony, as Tesénia a fairy “that is bored.” As in Purcell’s period (1659-1695) and theater done for the court, this time Praga wanted to make a “lovable show, with no heavy themes apparently more fun”, says Jardim.
“Not to say that the show is free of issues, they are presented in a lighter form. Because it is summer there is a World Football underway, people do not want to think too much.”
Mendes, Maria Sequeira. “Teatro Praga’s Omission of Shakespeare – An Intercultural Space”. Multicultural Shakespeare 15.1: 91-104. https://doi.org/10.1515/mstap-2017-0007 Web.
Rayner, Francesca. “Whose hand do we kiss?: Performing Democracy in a Portuguese A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Shakespeare Bulletin, vol. 32 no. 4, 2014, pp. 533-558. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/shb.2014.0065
Production notes provided by Maria Sequeira Mendes, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon.
Sonho de uma Noite de verão (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Fagundes, Patricia; 2006)
- Sonho de uma noite de verão (Midsummer Night’s Dream) (Marchioro, Marcelo; 1991)
- Sonho de Uma Noite de Verão (Midsummer Night’s Dream) (2002)
- Sonho de uma Noite de Verao: uma intromissao do grupo Nós do Morro no mundo de Shakespeare (Midsummer’s Night Dream) (Mello da Costa, Fernando; 2004)
- Sueño de una noche de verano (Midsummer Night’s Dream) (Faesler, Juliana; 2009)