Students present comedy and tragedy
Area theatergoers have two productions that should take center stage on their calendars this week. Both are spring productions at local high schools.
Tonight is opening night at Lakeridge High School for the theater arts' production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' one of William Shakespeare's most popular works.
The play portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, and the adventures of four young lovers and a band of laborers/amateur actors, who are manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which the play is set.
It is a comedy that involves love, problems with time, loss of individual identity and more.
Presented in the school's Black Box Theater, the intimate presentation will pull audience members into the action and rhythm of the Shakespearean style. The student actors have worked hard on the language and presentation to ensure audiences can relax and enjoy the humor of the play.
'This is the first show I've got the part I wanted to play,' said Ollie Friedman, who plays Nick Bottom, one of the "rude mechanicals." 'I hope the audience will listen to the words ... they are so whimsical and funny.'
Julie DeBryun, who plays Hippolyta, said the cast worked especially hard on the language and phrasing of their lines.
'It is easy to understand Shakespeare when you are performing it,' she said.
The cast realizes that audiences sometimes need a little time to get used to the Shakespearean language.
'We have been working really hard to ensure that the lines will come alive for the audience during the performances,' DeBryun said.
The costumes add a rich as well as whimsical touch to the production.
The cast believes audiences will thoroughly enjoy the play to the end.
'It will leave thee with a stitch in thy side,' DeBryun quipped.
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' opens tonight at 7 and continues May 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $6 to $10 and can be purchased online at pacerdrama.com or at the door.
Theater arts instructor Joe Theissen invites the public to attend 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and the Performance Seminar performances scheduled for May 31 at 7 p.m. and June 2 at 2 and 7 p.m. These performances feature short scenes on the theme of "Fate vs. Choice."
After the whimsy of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' you might be ready for more serious theater. Lake Oswego High's Performance Seminar students will offer that in their production of Sophocles' play "Antigone," opening at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.
This ancient Greek play also has challenging lines but again the student actors put effort into making the message clear.
Before the beginning of the story, two brothers leading opposite sides in Thebe's civil war died fighting each other for the throne. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, has decided that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices will be publicly shamed. The rebel brother's body will not be sanctified by holy rites, and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals like worms and vultures, the harshest punishment at the time.
Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead Polyneices and Eteocles. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the palace gates late at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wants to bury Polyneices' body, in defiance of Creon's edict. Ismene refuses to help, which causes Antigone to disown her.
'This isn't your 'sunshine and rainbows show,'' said Jake Buhlman, who plays Creon. 'Even though it was written about ancient Greeks, the story is still real and still pertinent today. Human nature doesn't change. People today still struggle with blindness to one's ways.'
'It's a play about blindness and stubborness,' said Iris Liu, who plays Antigone. 'It's tragic. ... No one wants to listen. They can't see the flaw in what they are doing.'
'Come see 'Antigone,'' said Andrew Nitsche, who plays Haemon. 'But be ready - this is not high school theater anymore. It is very different in a good way."
Antigone features costumes and masks created by student Elise Wunderlich.
The play opens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 29, and continues at 7 p.m. May 30, 31 and June 1, 2. There is also a 2 p.m. performance June 2. Tickets cost $5 for students and seniors and $8 for adults.
Theater arts instructor Bob McGranahan said the play is best suited for children older than 12. Purchase tickets online at lodrama.org or at the door.