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Driftwood Theatre presents pay-what-you-can theatre in Bloomfield

James Dallas Smith (Theseus, Oberon) with Siobhan Richardson (Hippolyta, Titania) – Dahlia Katz-James photo

Driftwood Theatre, Ontario’s longest-running professional not-for-profit touring theatre company, will celebrate its silver anniversary with a pay-what-you-can performance in Bloomfield.

The company, for 25 years, has held true to its belief that everyone, no matter where they live, or how much money they have in their pockets, should have access to characters and stories that have inspired and delivered generations.

On Friday, Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m. the troupe brings A (musical) Midsummer Night’s Dream to the Bloomfield Millpond stage – for a pay what you can, or free admission show.

Set in the fictional city of Athens, and its nearby forest, present day. The synopsis notes that in the wake of layoffs, Bottome, a lifelong autoworker, embarks upon a journey to rediscover his sense of place, community and belonging.

Meanwhile in the upper echelons of Athens society, the wedding plans of co-mayors Theseus and Hippolyta are interrupted by a campaign supporter, Egeus, who arrives with a complaint against his daughter Hermia.

Egeus has made a match for Hermia with Demetrius, the son of an influential family. Hermia would rather be with Lysander. Calling upon an old technicality within the law, Egeus demands that she marry Demetrius or be put to death. Hermia, not surprisingly, thinks that this is a terrible idea and elects to escape to the forest with Lysander and elope.

Director Jeremy Smith says he hates that he loves this play so much. He’s performed in it twice, directed it four times, seen it countless times and never tires of the familiar story.

“My love affair with A Midsummer Night’s Dream began 25 years ago when, as a third-year student at Queen’s University, I dreamt of spending my upcoming summer doing something different. I’d been inspired by companies like Die in Debt (Toronto) and Repercussion Theatre (Montreal). I wanted to share something similar with my own community.”

This will be Driftwood’s third production of the musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s great comedy.

“There’s a magical quality to the human voice raised in song which suits the play very well,” said Smith. “The writing is not simple (listen closely) and it beautifully underscore the playfulness, musicality, and spirit of Shakespeare’s play. And it’s incredibly groovy. Like any good musical, it heightens and enriches the dramatic journey of its characters.”

Bottome, he notes, in all of his clownish glory, is on a journey desperately seeking what we all do: community, connection, companionship.

“Without it, he’d be lost. Without it, so are we. It’s a parable for today, really. In our ever-increasing disconnected, digital world where we spend more time looking at our phones than the world around us, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a celebration of human connection, a reminder to put our devices down and be present in our lives and loves.”

Nick Dolan (Demetrius, Snout) and Kelsi James (Helena, Quince) – Dahlia Katz photo

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