We are awash in content these days and one thing that’s clear after a year of lockdown is that great writing stretches and adapts over time. William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is fresh and relevant right now. Here are two ways to explore the play virtually.
WATCH PROFESSIONALS LIVE in LONDON
The Royal Shakespeare Company and Epic Games have created a digitally enhanced experience that is only available until March 20; inspired by a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the 50 minute LIVE experience focuses on Puck and the fairies (Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed and Peaseblossom… and some fireflies).
It’s available for free at set times during the week – live actors are filmed with motion capture 3D cameras – and for a small uncharge (ten British pounds) you can interact with the production. Read more here in a New York Times story, or here on the production’s website.
PERFORM THE PLAY YOURSELVES ON ZOOM
Our book club did something new this month after almost a year meeting by zoom. Led by an enthusiastic trio of Shakespeare fanatics, we acted out a Midsummer Night’s Dream on Zoom. One of our daughters is part of a group that has been performing a Shakespearean play once a week since the start of lockdown. Together with a group who are literally all around the globe, they distribute roles on Monday, devise costumes and study their lines during the week, and gather virtually to perform each Saturday night. That’s about the best use of quarantine isolation that I know of – and, having done all the plays at least once (except for a few they deem racist), they’re starting all over again.
Is there anything better than fairies? We enlisted three of the group to help us perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Some of us exercised natural thespian muscles joyfully, and others (like me) discovered that Zoom allowed a freedom we never felt on an actual stage. We donned various masks and hats as props, threw ourselves into the roles, and got through the whole play in under two and a half hours. Admittedly, the millennials took on the best parts (Puck, Bottom, and Titania) and their semi-pro bolstering definitely helped our confidence. But thrown into the virtual forest, we relaxed into the story and the language immediately. Encouraging and praising each other in the Zoom chat made the experience even more fun.
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s website is full of excellent information