Because I am an English major and a huge Shakespeare fan, I was so pleased to find out Arcadia was going to be putting on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As soon as I heard, I called up my sister (a fellow Shakespeare enthusiast) in order to tell her the good news. I chuckled as I dialed, expecting her to respond with sentiments of envy and jealousy. I even thought she might decide to visit campus herself just to see the production.
What I was not expecting was that her school would be staging the very same play.
Oh no you don’t, I thought. This play was Arcadia’s. How dare another school put on the same show! But, indeed, that was the case. I was not worried, however. I had faith that Arcadia’s production would be amazing, leaving any other attempt in the dust. Unfortunately, my sister had the same high hopes for her own school’s theater department. It looked like we would have to settle this on the stage. (Admittedly, we can both be a touch over-dramatic.)
When the night of the performance finally arrived, I was first in line at the box office and the show did not disappoint. Arcadia’s production was unique and hilariously original. Towards the end, one of the actors even did the worm! As soon as Puck delivered the show’s closing lines, I raced out of the theater and called my sister. She picked up on the first ring.
“Mine had interpretive dance.”
“Oh yeah? Well mine had Christmas lights! Beat that!”
For the next hour we went back and forth and back and forth, comparing the two productions. Swarthmore’s play had taken place in a large tent in the woods. A bon fire, blankets, and hot chocolate had kept the audience warm as they watched their fellow students prance around dressed as fairies in strands of Christmas lights.
Now, Arcadia’s players certainly did not dress in Christmas couture, but what the show lacked in accouterments, it made up for in spirit and heart. By the end of the production, I found myself on my feet and applauding wildly. The cast had such a small stage with which to work, but by the end of the production, I had found myself focusing less on the limits of the walls and more on the scene being created within them. That is the essence of creative spirit, right there—the decision to make something special out of whatever materials are available.
In the end, I was glad that Swarthmore had put on the same play as Arcadia, because it had given my sister and I the opportunity to compare the two shows. By seeing what characterized the Swarthmore play, I could more easily identify what Arcadia’s theater department is all about: hard work and imagination. And, while I didn’t get a cup of that hot chocolate, I sure did get a taste for what Arcadia’s theater department has to offer.
Photos by Fig Tree Photography