Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Once Upon a Dream: Shakespeare Castle Tour

My article about Shakespeare performances in English in Scania and Copenhagen this fall has been published in the latest issue of South of Sweden Magazine.
Once upon a dream

Trade a kingdom for a stage when Shakespeare’s finest comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, descends on three castles in the Öresund region this September. Pack blankets and a picnic and enjoy a magical night with the bard in his own mother tongue and beneath twinkling stars.

It starts with your picnic. Your cakes and wine taste magically voluptuous when you dine outside on blankets with castle spires looming over you. Somehow, the setting works its magic on Shakespeare too and when, to the evensong of blackbirds, the first words of the play are uttered (Now, fair Hippolyta…) the bard bewitches you. The sky is your ceiling, just as in Shakespeare’s own wooden O, the Globe Theatre in London. As the first pale blush of dusk creeps up to kiss the sky, clever couplets rain upon you like precious jewels.

As part of their Castle Tour 2007, TNT Theatre Britain and The American Drama Group, bring the Dream to 50 castles in eight countries in Europe including six performances in the Öresund region. Sofiero Slott, the former royal summer residence with exquisite gardens in Helsingborg, hosts two performances on September 4th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. Backäskog Slott, on a forested slip of land near Kristianstad and framed by glittering lakes, welcomes Puck and his friends on September 5th at 7 p.m. Finally, the thespians take “the two hours passage of our stage” to Rosenborg Slot in central Copenhagen with performances on September 6th, 7th and 8th at 7 p.m.

Judging from their past productions, including Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and The Taming of the Shrew, TNT Theatre Britain and The American Drama Group will spellbind us with a refreshing and sincere version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s much loved romantic comedy. Director Paul Stebbings and producers Grantly Marshall and Gunnar Kuehn bring us a Shakespeare unsullied by lavish sets, laborious scene changes, and unwieldy orchestras. This simplicity gives centre stage to the poetic texture of the master’s language and the play’s themes and characters become more distilled, potent and memorable.

As the timeless wizard of wit and humanity spins his tale he holds up an enchanted mirror that shows us who we are, how we think and why we love. He is always fresh, never out of fashion because he peddles in our vices, our virtues and the wild spectrum of human emotion. We fall madly in love. We hate and fight. We are jealous, irrational, silly and wonderful just like classical Athenians, English pagans and Shakespeare himself. As Ben Jonson prophesied, “He was not of an age, but for all time!”

As night sinks in and crickets take up harmony, Puck soothes us gently, “If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumber'd here, while these visions did appear…”

The American Drama Group
Ohio native Grantly Marshall founded The American Drama Group in 1978 in Munich, Germany. The group performs historic and modern classics of American, British and French drama in Europe and Asia. For more information visit The American Drama Group site at

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