For Ohio Shakespeare Festival managing director Tess Burgler, the Bard is a family business. When Burgler was 12 years old, her parents created Ohio Shakespeare Festival, an Akron-based theater company dedicated towards classic theater performances. This year, she’ll be directing its summer performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a classic Shakespeare comedy surrounding the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta every Thursday through Sunday from July 15- Aug. 15. Before you get lost in Fairyland, here’s what to know.
This year's performance looks a little different. In a normal year, any outdoor show run by the Ohio Shakespeare Festival features first-come, first-serve outdoor seating. That’s not the case this year, as patrons must reserve spots ahead of time for socially distant seating. Still, it’s well worth the extra steps. “Outdoor theater is our bread-and-butter,” Burgler says.
The venue plays into the show. We’ll forgive you if their production makes you think you’re in Athens, Greece, as the outdoor setting at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens fits perfectly into the aesthetic of the story. Additionally, guests who arrive early will be able to wander the grounds beforehand to soak in the ambiance ahead of the show. “Stan Hywet is our own magical forest that we’re able to perform in,” Burgler says. “This year’s set has all the elements of a pop-up storybook. The costumes in particular are spectacular.”
It's the perfect play for everyone. You don’t have to be a fantasy fanatic to enjoy this performance, as Burgler and her team have put together a show that’s easily understood in both its language and production. With a full cast and a live music production, each rendition of the play will truly feel like a trip into a fantastical world. “I love the ensemble quality of the show since it allows for us to have a diverse cast of many ages, shapes, abilities and backgrounds,” Burgler says. “Each group’s story is exciting, hilarious and magical.”