BYU Young Company presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
An introduction to Shakespeare through the art of puppetry!
The BYU Young Company, celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, is a troupe dedicated to theatre for young audiences. The group performs in front of 23,000 young people each year on campus, in schools and throughout local communities.
This year, the group’s Shakespeare Company presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream, adapted and directed by Nat Reed, who is a puppetry professor at BYU and also runs the puppetry program at SCERA Center for the Arts.
The Bard’s popular comedy comes to life at the hands—or, rather, the strings—of a troupe of handmade marionettes. Children will be captivated as they watch the antics of fairies and humans in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
The Young Company brings theater to elementary-aged students, and its goal with this production is to capture children’s imagination while encouraging interest in The Bard. “This play is kind of like gateway Shakespeare,” said director Nat Reed. “It’s funny and I think the most accessible of Shakespeare’s plays, which makes it a good entry play for kids.”
Reed utilized “Midsummer” — Shakespeare’s famous comedy of four star-crossed lovers in the fairy woodland — to mark the occasion. The play features three human actors playing Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, as well as Puck, Oberon’s servant. The balance of roles are played by five marionettes (handled by five puppeteers), designed by Reed and made from wood, PVC pipe, foam and papier-mache.
In keeping with tailoring the production to appeal to kids, “Midsummer” has been cut down from a full-length production to just 50 minutes. The sometimes unwieldy language of Shakespeare has also been pared to make comprehension of the story easier.