Oberon and Puck bring the bayou to Dunham

Director Peter Cocuzza’s take on William Shakespeares ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is set in a Louisiana bayou, at an indeterminate time period some time in the last century. Sticking to the Shakespearian dialogue, but incorporating Cajun music and translating Duke Theseus into a governor or a fictional parish called Athens, the production had a contemporary look and feel that heightened the audiences sense of engagement. Cocuzza is also the department chair and an associate professor in Theater and Dance.

“It’s kind of hard to understand at first, but when you listen and see the actions it’s really good,” said sophomore dance major Tatiana McDonald. “I’ve not seen Shakespeare before, but I think the set was on point. The ‘southern thing’ was cool, and I liked the nymphs and the fairies.”

Adrienne Villotti, SIUE grad and member of the Friends of Theater and Dance, has seen Midsummer many times and says the twists in Cocuzza’s production breathed new life into the piece.

“I love that the story is in Shakespeare’s original language, it’s an opportunity for people – especially the students – to see it from a different perspective,” Villotti said. “I think the talent of the students and their ability to project it to a diverse audience is amazing. There are seniors… young people who are students, and there are little kids – so it’s a very diverse audience.

Sophomore mass communications major Carrie Dougherty, who played Hermia, said that all the work getting into the head of her character paid off when the audience responded so well.

“In developing my role I read a lot of Shakespeare… It kind of helped me learn my character more, learn her responses to things,” Dougherty said. “You can hear the audience understand everything better when you put it in a context they understand. There’s so much under a Shakespearian text, and it’s our job to get people to understand that through feeling, facials and whatever.”

The physical comedy, and playing off the other actors energy, is what senior dual degree (theater performance and kinesiology) student Dana Szarzynski said she liked the most about playing Helena.

“I didn’t want to stop because it was so much fun and everyone was doing such a good job,” she said. “Of the responses that I got, the ones that make me feel the best are when they just walk up to me and say ‘I understood everything that you were saying’ and I’m like ‘you just made me feel awesome right now.’”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare was presented by the Department of Theater and Dance at SIUE from Oct. 13 through the 17th in the Dunham Hall Theater.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Theater & Dance


Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. llafond says:

    I attended the Sunday afternoon performance and thought it was great! Kudos to Peter Cocuzza all the performers for a delightful rendition of a classic.

Switch to our mobile site