Preview: Virtual Production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Emphasizes Individual Creativity

This Fall Term, Andover’s Theater and Dance departments are collaborating to produce William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” With a cast of around thirty students, many scenes are being filmed virtually over Zoom or with green screens.

Dance Director Judith Wombwell, Instructor in Theater and Dance said, “We came up with this idea of counterparts… The actor will be speaking the lines, and the dancer will be dancing the lines, and so you see them in a split screen, and that’s pretty effective.”

According to Zora Warren ’23, who plays Francis Flute, a male mechanic, Wombwell and Acting Director Rickey Watson have encouraged actors to explore themes of gender and sexuality through their characters. Wombwell assigned multiple male characters, such as Francis, to female-identifying actresses and dancers, in an effort to break gender stereotypes.

“I wanted to use some themes that are inherent in the play regarding [acting] against authority and gender fluidity… I think the kids have appreciated that, and the virtual world actually helps in discussions of things that we need to be talking about that have to do with race and class and gender, and sexuality, specifically,” said Wombwell.

Many of the dancers are self-choreographing their dance pieces. Claire Song ’22, Student Director of Camera and Editing and “Fairy Group Leader,” expressed how being remote allows for more opportunities to individualize characters and performances.

“Towards the beginning of the term, we researched a lot about our characters and what we wanted, specifically, to portray in our roles, so we brought that when self-choreographing and collaborating in the remote setting,” said Song.

Despite the challenges of virtual production, Warren highlighted Wombwell’s creative direction with dance and the video editing, which she feels gives the cast more freedom on how the final production will look.

“At the end of the day, we come together and both parts of what we do contribute to the larger picture which makes it so remarkable. Having both the actors and dancers on stage, or in the video, at the same time is really interesting… I am really looking forward to [seeing] it as a final product,” said Song.

In anticipation of the production’s December release date, Wombwell is excited to edit the various scenes together in one final production. Wombwell emphasized how important individual creativity is when working in a remote setting.

“We are actually talking about content and ourselves, and things that really matter more, rather than the product. It has really put the emphasis more on the process instead of the product, and I think that’s very appropriate,” said Wombwell.