Steamboat Springs High School students present Shakespeare production this weekend | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs High School students present Shakespeare production this weekend

Sammi Lee, who portrays Puck in the Steamboat Springs High School's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," rehearses a scene on a stage set up in front of the high school. The shows are scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will also be a show at noon Saturday.

— This weekend, Steamboat Springs High School students will bring to life one of William Shakespeare's most popular comedies, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," with shows at 5 p.m. today and at noon and 5 p.m. Saturday.

In one sense, staging a Shakespearean production is simple, as there are generally few if any special effects.

"It's just the words and how they can create this electricity between the actors on stage," said Stuart Handloff, artistic director of Piknik Theatre, who led Shakespeare workshops with SSHS students for this weekend's performance. "It's a transformative experience as the simple language comes to life."

If You Go…

What: William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

When: 5 p.m. Friday; noon and 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School (outside the cafeteria), 45 Maple St.

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Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for students

A line such as, "The course of true love never did run smooth," has the ability to take on new meaning with an emotive delivery, added Jamie Oberhansly, director of the high school production.

"It's an amazing line, because every single person in the world can relate to that," Oberhansly said. "It's part of the embodiment of this show. We all understand love, conflict and the relationship aspect of life. It's universal. Shakespeare knew that, even back in the 1500s."

Dealing with this universal theme and all its complications, Oberhansly said "A Midsummer Night's Dream" follows the tumultuous adventures of four young lovers and a group of comedic, amateur actors in an enchanted forest of Athens.

"This is about connecting with the audience by how the actors embrace and interpret the characters, to portray as much as they can to show us the story," Oberhansly said. "If you can convey the humor in some of the words and portray how funny the scene is, then the audience will have a good time."

A departure from more modern productions such as "Legally Blonde, the Musical" or "Little Shop of Horrors," this will be the first time the cast and crew of about 35 students has tackled a Shakespeare production, said SSHS senior Maggie Farrell, student/assistant director.

"This is extremely different than what we have done in the past," Farrell said. "We've used costumes for a lot of it to show the characters and how they relate to one another, and with that, we really hope people will see how beautiful Shakespeare's work is. His understanding of … human emotion and characters is absolutely incredible."

Chasing Puck — the clever, mischievous jester character — around the stage with a foam pool noodle to evoke emotion was just one technique Handloff brought to the group during the rehearsal workshops in February.

Handloff was granted the opportunity to lead the Shakespeare workshops at the high school after the Education Fund Board's Grant Commission awarded him $1,000 as one of eight innovation grant projects.

"He chased me around the stage to make me afraid, so that I would have that reaction on stage," said SSHS sophomore Samantha Lee, who plays the role of Puck. "It's to associate the scene with real fear, rather than something made up in your head to make sure you are portraying the scene accurately. If you're not portraying it in the right way, the audience won't get it."

Without the meaning and emotion embodying the text, Handloff said, Shakespeare can be perceived as "dry." Emotions and action, he said, evoke a deeper understanding.

"This is about finding the magic within the performance and the way language comes to life," Handloff said. "’A Midsummer Night's Dream' is a classic comedy piece that has a full range, from magic to clumsiness of the amateur actors running into each other."

The hour-long show is suitable for all ages and will include bubbles at the entrance for children. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at SSHS.

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@ExploreSteamboat.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

When: 5 p.m. Friday; noon and 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School (outside the cafeteria), 45 Maple St.

Tickets: $10 for adults and $5 for students