Midshizzle – the visual aesthetic

28 Aug

This post is a culmination of the explorations around the current Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing in Roma Street Parkland (Brisbane) until September 7th.

For maximum effect, read the first three posts, here, here, and here. Otherwise you are of course welcome to just enjoy the pretty pictures (by Benjamin Prindable).

If you’ve read the earlier posts, these pictures will demonstrate how the dramaturgical ideas from our exploration manifest in the visual aesthetic (mainly costumes, along with the minimal set). So I’ll mostly let the pictures do the talking for a change.

First of all, a gratuitous photo of me and the costume designer, Angel Kosch, playing music for the show.

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The full band for the show consists of us plus three actors from the show and resident fiddler Steve Mackie.

We begin with the Athenian ‘nobility’, as discussed in previous posts a band of war-lords and warriors eking out a desperate and vicious existence under the strain of the failing environment. Here are the four lovers, from left to right below Nick James as Lysander, Johancée Theron as Hermia, Rebecca Murphy as Helena and Silvan Rus as Demetrius:

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Demetrius to Helena “You do impeach your modesty too much / To leave the city and commit yourself / Into the hands of one that loves you not; / To trust the opportunity of night / And the ill counsel of a desert place / With the rich worth of your virginity.”

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Helena and Hermia, like to a double cherry:

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And here is Athens’ Duke Theseus (Zac Kelty) with his newly won bride, Ruby Drewery as Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.

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Harder to show in photos, the Athenian world is physically rough, often breaking out into violence. These photos show some of the lovers’ antics in the woods, and a picture of the hapless gimp Philostrate:

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The shadow world of the play, the faerie kingdom, is led by these same two actors who play Theseus and Hippolyta, appearing as Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of Faerieland:

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Alongside them are Oberon’s plucky Puck, played by Louise Brehmer, and Titania’s faeries (Laura McKenna, Matt Gaffney, Sam Jeboult, Brandon Dowery):

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The last photo above nicely showcases Belinda McCormack’s set. Constructed from short platforms and 44 gallon drums, the set suggests both industrial refuse and broken architecture. In the forest, several of the platforms become the tops of ‘mushroom’ like structures. Again, the element of the forest that is highlighted is not the tall trees but the undergrowth, the fungus, the dank earth.

The final ingredient in the mix is provided by the mechanicals, the band of manual labourers who come together by night to prepare a play, which is eventually performed at the nuptials of Theseus and Hippolyta, and of the four lovers:

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Finally, some pictures of an ass (Colin Smith’s Bottom), the Queen of the Faeries riding said ass, and Oberon cuckolded by an ass:

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