Midsummer Night’s Dream Cast Brings Their Show to Youth in Public Schools
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a timeless classic written by William Shakespeare and captivates audiences with its simple plot and playful nature. BYU Young Company adapted the play to tour local schools in Utah County, inviting children to watch and participate.
This play has been adapted many times. Directed by Kris Peterson, this version takes place in a blanket fort, and captures the nostalgic feeling of “a bunch of kids having fun in a slumber party, and falling asleep.”
Artistic and Managing Director, Rebecca Wallin, discussed the value of bringing the play setting to communities in Utah county. “The library shows are free. This is one of the first shows kids see so we try to make it fun for them.” Wallin said that the BYU Young Company shows take place each Fall and Winter and are organized by schools contacting BYU directly.
Aunah Johnson, a student who played Hippolyta, Titania, and Quince, was asked about the pleasures and challenges alike that come with touring and performing for younger audiences. “My favorite part is post show when we do a workshop with kids,” she said. “I love watching the passionate kids do theater with us and see their creativity become inspired by our interactions. It reminds me of being in fifth grade and loving theater [and] watching shows.”
Johnson believes performing for younger audiences is a different process compared to other productions. “Kids will tell you what they think, right there in the moment. They know if you are not totally engaged with them in the performance and it is hard to bring them back in. With kids, you have to be vulnerable, sincere and intentional.”
Lydia Cox, who portrayed Helena, Snout and Wall, also loves performing for children. She said, “Kids are the best part about what we do. We’ve had over 20 shows, and it is impossible to zone out because all the kids give off so much energy. One challenging thing is keeping kids’ attention; there are lots of management techniques. It is great when the kids feel comfortable being part of the show.”
Will Blackburn, who portrayed Theseus and Oberon, agreed. “The joy of children is the most unadulterated kind of joy. It is pure, understanding and real. I think it is really cool and rewarding for me to see.” He described the impact theater has had on his life and the outreach to children in other communities. “For those wanting to try theater, it has changed my life. You make connections with people and create something that feels real for those kids. I have never experienced anything like this before.”
Actors and producers alike praise A Midsummer Night’s Dream for its impact on children's development. Audiences are invited to enter into the “blanket fort of imagination and magic” to experience Shakespeare’s story.