Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's show time -- finally -- for 'Midsummer'

The Garfield Shakespeare Company in Indianapolis experienced a "first" last Friday when it was scheduled to open its fall production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in the outdoor MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts: a rainout. In its modest history, no outdoor show ever had to be postponed because of weather before.

So Friday's opening was pushed back a day to Saturday, when the show, directed by Joe Cook, launched ... despite one of the coldest nights the all-volunteer theater troupe ever had to perform in. Spectators wisely brought along coats, blankets and hot chocolate, and at least one of the rain dates (either Oct. 5 or 6) will come into play. There was some word last weekend that the troupe would try to add the second extra show as well, but I hadn't heard anything official on that yet. Definitely still on the schedule are this weekend's shows -- Sept. 28 and 29.

Weather was no object on Sept. 19, two days before the originally scheduled opening, when I shot the only all-cast dress rehearsal at the amphitheater. It was the first opportunity I had to see several cast members in their costumes. Pictures from that shoot are what you see here; a full gallery of images from the production can be found at my site at

I think I'm like a lot of people who, when the subject of Shakespeare's "Midsummer" comes up, first conjure images of the play's fairies, three of whom -- Oberon, Titania and Puck -- have key roles in the story. But the other fairies of the forest provide wonderful dressage and imagery to the production, which is why I chose to lead with the image you see at the top. It was a challenge to capture them all in a single frame, but what you see above is most of them from the GSC cast.

Below you'll find images from other moments of the play.

Above and below: Puck (left, played by J.D. Bonitz) is referred to in the plot narratives as "mischievous," but it's Oberon, king of the fairies (played by Stephen E. Foxworthy), who directs Puck's antics. Above and below, Puck and Oberon's child servant (played by Trey Van Pelt) act out as Oberon discusses his cupid-playing plan. 

Above: Gabby Sandefer stepped up splendidly in a GSC breakout role as the lead fairy, Mustardseed. In this picture, she stood right in front of a set of colored lights, making this image "pop," as they say in the photo industry. 

Above: The photos give powerful testament to the costuming task directed by Bradley A. Jones. On a meager budget, he shops Goodwill and other bargain stories and transforms the acquisitions into believable period garb. Here his work is "modeled" by fairy Elizabeth Fasbiner.

Above: Dancing fairies Clara Ross (left) and Mia Hinds.

Above: Faced with an awkward vantage point, I tried to turn it into my favor by going for a little different perspective with this shot of Bonitz and Sandefer.

Above and below: To illustrate the detail in makeup to round out the fairy costuming, here are closeups of Foxworthy (Oberon) and Susan Yeaw, who played Titania, queen of the fairies.

Above: One of my favorite shots of the rehearsal -- as Titania makes it clear to Oberon that her troll changeling, whom Oberon desires, is off limits, Puck can hardly contain himself in the background.

Above: Theseus, duke of Athens (played by my son, Ben Konz), along with (from left) Hippolyta, played by Lexie Brown, and Hermia (Christy Walker). Theseus and Hippolyta were to be be married by the end of the play, but at this point  Hipployta was still queen of the amazons. 

Above and below: Photos that exploit the dramatic quality of selective depth of field, both shot at f/2.8, the widest aperture available on different Canon lenses. Above, Konz and Walker; below, Trey observing Bonitz and Foxworthy from afar. The difference in the bokeh (the blurred subject area) is attributable to the lens focal distance. Above, the more compression- and smoother-bokeh-delivering 70-200mm lens set at 145mm; below, the lower-range 24-70mm, at 51mm.

Above: Mark Fasbinder portrayed Egeus, father of Hermia. Egeus fiercely opposes his daughter's romantic interest in Lysander and instead lobbies for her marriage to Demetrius.

Above and next two below: The romantic interests of Demetrius (above, played by Spencer Elliott) and Helena, played by his real-life wife, Ashley Chase-Elliott are scrambled along with those of Hermia and Lysander, played by Andy Sturm (far left in first image below). Early in the storyline, Helena goes after Demetrius aggressively (above) despite his repeated rebuffs. Once Puck applies romance-changing drops to Lysander, the plot escalates into confusion and a flat-out free for all (below).   

Above: Oberon later directs Pucks to reverse the chaos the king had unwittingly created (because Puck improperly administered the order), putting Hermia and Lysander back together again.

Above: Meanwhile, six local laborers got together to form a theater troupe, the Rude Mechanicals, with plans to perform a play, "Pyramus and Thisbe," a love story written by one of them, Peter Quince (right). Quince begins to make assignments for the cast of this play, beginning by the appointment of Nick Bottom (played by Todd Crickmore, left) to play male lead Pyramus.

Above and next two below: Puck's mischief extends to the Mechanicals when the fairy transformed Bottom's head into that of a donkey (above), or as Bottom aptly refers to it in the manuscript, "an ass." But despite that turn of events, Titania (first image below) finds herself attracted to Bottom after she, too, gets a dose of affection-changing drops from Puck at Oberon's direction. That lasts until Oberon (second image below) uses the magic flower to reverse the hex on his wife.

Above and below: The Mechanicals' Snug, played by Cody Blackford, gets perhaps the most challenging role in "Pyramus" -- to play the lion -- because Snug is not only meek (his "roar" is hardly that) but also a little slow to grasp things. The shot above, another of my favorites, was taken as Snug struggled with the simple task of exiting the stage during an early scene. Below, the king of the forest acting out his role in "Pyramus."  

Above: The Mechanicals' Robin Starveling executes her role in "Pyramus" as Moonshine by using a lantern to provide light. 

Above: When Quince assigns Francis Flute (played by Christopher "Rock" Blackwell) the role of Thisbe, Flute doesn't realize at first that Thisbe is a woman. "What is Thisbe? A wandering knight?" Flute asks with pride. When Quince sets Flute straight about how there will be a cross-gender required, he reacts in disbelief (above), to the amusement of fellow Mechanicals Starveling and Snug.

Above and next three below: The Mechanicals' Tom Snout (center, played by Tony Van Pelt, Trey's father) acts as the wall (literally) and uses the fingers of a hand to create an opening in the wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe communicate. Flute acquits himself nicely (first image below), carrying out the cross-gender role of Thisbe and, in fact, provides the troupe's shining moment (second and third images below) when his emotions upon finding the body of Pyramus and then using her lover's sword to kill herself moves Theseus to praise the passion he has just witnessed.

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous photos of an exceptionally creative enterprise! Thanks so much for your kind words btw.