Del Shakes to bring free “Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to Rodney Square

Charlie Megginson Culture, Headlines

Eric Mills (here with Krista Apple in 2018’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ will play Oberon in Del Shakes’ ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Photo by Alessandra Nicole/Delaware Shakespeare

Delaware Shakespeare will host free outdoor performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Rodney Square next month.

The group says it will transform Rodney Square into a “magical forest where confused lovers, bumbling actors and powerful fairies all meet to pursue their wildest dreams!”

The Sept. 16-Sept. 19 production is being presented in partnership with the City of Wilmington and Mayor Mike Purzycki.

“Free Shakespeare in the heart of the city is a hallmark of world-class destinations,” said Tina Betz, director of cultural affairs for the City of Wilmington. “This collaboration with Del Shakes adds to the momentum building in Wilmington as an amazing city for the arts.”

Performances will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

David Stradley, producing artistic director, said the troupe is excited to return to full production with what it believes may be the  theatre performance ever in Rodney Square.

“We could all use a little more magic in our lives, and a little more love,” Stradley said. “This play gives us both. We’re grateful to the City of Wilmington for inviting us to perform at Rodney Square, and to PNC for helping to make it free for the whole community.”

Guests are encouraged to bring their own blankets, chairs, and picnic supplies — but leave alcohol at home, at the request of the organizers. 

The production will be directed by Bi Jean Ngo, who helmed Delaware Shakespeare’s biggest box office success with 2018’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” She has been creating programming throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a member of the group’s Artistic Quad.

“This is a chance for us to re-engage with each other as a community and to celebrate our humanity,” said Ngo. “Come join us for a ‘most rare vision’ and bring your biggest dreams.”

Delaware Shakespeare traditionally offers a summer production at Rockwood Park that hasn’t been able to take place the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also usually has a traveling production in the fall, visiting places like prisons, homeless shelters and schools where access to the performing arts is limited. 

COVID restrictions, however, have forced organizers to get creative.

Hosting a theatrical performance in the heart of downtown Wilmington does not come without its challenges, according to Stradley. 

“It’s an urban center so there’s definitely more noise and atmosphere at Rodney Square but we’re really trying to embrace that,” Stradley said. “We want to bring great, exciting, vibrant Shakespeare right to the middle of our community.”

Stradley hopes that by hosting the event in Rodney Square, passersby will become “saturated with the magic of live theatre” and join the audience. 

Depending on how it turns out, Stradley said  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” could be the first of many public productions in the downtown area. 

The performance will last about 90 minutes. Seating is first come, first served. Audience members must bring their own chair (no more than 30” high) or a blanket for seating. The event will conform with all local public health guidelines.

For more information, go to delshakes.org.

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