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Shakespeare in the Park: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
June 24 - July 30
In 2019, Milwaukee’s Free Shakespeare in the Park (SITP) celebrated 10 seasons of live, summertime performances of the works of the Bard of Avon. In 2020, Optimist Theatre kept their tradition of free Shakespeare alive with a new web series titled No Holds Bard. In 2021, they embrace the best of both experiences as they return to the stage with live performances of Shakespeare’s light-hearted and beloved “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” paired with a serialized web stream of No Holds Bard: The Midsummer Project.
Adding a new twist, “Midsummer” will be a touring production, using a mobile set designed for the company. Optimist anticipates 12 live matinee performances over six weekends beginning July 24-25 in multiple outdoor locations in the greater Milwaukee area. Conversations with potential hosts are well underway and, as they are confirmed, a calendar with specifics of when and where will be added to the Optimist Theatre website. “Midsummer” will be co-directed by M.L. Cogar, Optimist Theatre’s Dramaturg, and Tom Reed, Associate Artistic Director, and assistant-directed by Executive Director Susan Fry. Cogar has created a shortened version of the play for a cast of six actors playing multiple roles. The story will focus on the follies of the lovers and the foibles of the fairies Oberon and Puck and will run 60 to 75 minutes.
Following the success of Optimist’s 2020 offering No Holds Bard: The Pericles Project — a filmed 16-episode web series of “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” — they will also film this summer’s play under the co-direction of Fry, Cogar, and Reed. Fry is also an independent film producer. These episodes will stream as No Holds Bard: The Midsummer Project and are expected to air in the fall/winter of 2021.
According to Fry: “We’re happy and relieved to be joining the ranks of our fellow companies bringing live theatre back to audiences who are craving love, connection, and laughter. With our mobile set, we’ll be able to help fill that need anywhere there’s a piece of flat grass, an electrical outlet, and bathrooms within walking distance.” Fry adds, “This is also our opportunity to take our shows to green spaces all over Milwaukee. Connecting with all of our diverse communities is one of our cornerstones. It’s why we Optimists work so hard to keep our performances free. After all, All the world’s a stage!”
More information on the productions is available on the Optimist Theatre website at www.FreeShakespeareInThePark.