SANTA CLARA — Founded on the belief that theater, and especially Shakespeare, should be accessible to everyone, Santa Clara City Shakespeare in the Park is excited to present “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
This free production will take place on the large grassy area across the street from Santa Clara City Hall, 2306 Santa Clara Drive, for three days starting Friday at approximately 8:15 p.m. Food trucks will arrive at 5 p.m. for those interested in purchasing meals.
Santa Clara City Shakespeare in the Park creator and show director Heidi Lee said the idea for creating an arts event in Santa Clara “walked into her head fully formed” about five years ago. With the support of her husband, Michael Lee, the pair created HAM Productions, an arts nonprofit dedicated to bringing Shakespeare to Santa Clara.
Though Washington County has many wonderful community theaters and art events, Heidi Lee said, Santa Clara doesn’t really have an art event that is its own. Additionally, there aren’t any theaters in the county that are producing Shakespeare regularly, she said.
Santa Clara City Shakespeare in the Park follows the model created by The Public Theater founder Joseph Papp who first created Shakespeare in the Park in New York City’s Central Park.
Papp believed that theater should be as accessible to the public as a library book, Heidi Lee said. Papp’s philosophy, she added, was that theater shouldn’t be exclusive or elitist, and that everyone should be able to enjoy good theater, particularly Shakespeare.
With that in mind, Heidi Lee said one of her first priorities in creating Santa Clara Shakespeare in the Park was to make sure that it was a free, family-friendly event for people to come together and experience Shakespeare.
“When I learned about (Papp) and his philosophy, it resonated with me so deeply,” Heidi Lee said. “Because I believe the same thing. I believe that theater is for everyone, but sometimes it can be a little exclusive because there’s usually a significant cost involved in seeing good theater.”
For the inaugural production, Heidi Lee chose to produce “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies.
“It’s fun, and it’s comedic, and it’s light, and I feel like there’s something for everyone in this play,” she said.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a light-hearted story that follows four young lovers from Athens into a forest where a mischievous sprite causes all sorts of mayhem. True to Shakespeare’s love of theater, there is also a play within the play that adds some comedy in an already funny show.
For Santa Clara Shakespeare in the Park’s production, Heidi Lee has assembled a cast ranging in experience from first time on stage to some who have been in professional productions.
“My actors are fantastic,” Heidi Lee said. “There’s a huge, huge kind of breadth of experience among this cast but I feel like they’re all working really well together and I really feel like we got the right people in the right roles.”
For their part, the actors are all very excited to be doing Shakespeare and telling one of his most iconic stories.
“It’s just so much fun,” said David Love, who is playing the part of Bottom. “(Shakespeare) is the Bard, he is the master.”
Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies are filled with lyric and poetry that contain deep meaning and comments about humanity, Love said.
“It is always fun to do Shakespeare,” he added.
In addition to helping create Santa Clara City Shakespeare in the Park, Michael Lee is playing Demetrius, one of the lovers. Michael Lee said he is excited to be bringing this production to a wide audience but admits that his experience with Shakespeare thus far has been limited.
“I’ll be honest with you, Shakespeare is, is newer for me,” Michael Lee said. “I’m enjoying it very, very much … but I’m not an expert by any means.”
As far as the cast goes, Michael Lee said he knew from the moment the cast was posted that the show was going to be successful.
The show will have a three-night run April 12, 13 and 15. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets to sit near the stage and lawn chairs to sit farther back.
- What: Santa Clara City Shakespeare in the Park, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
- When: Friday, Saturday and Monday, April 12, 13 and 15, starting at approximately 8:15 p.m. Food trucks available 5-8 p.m. before each performance.
- Where: Across from Santa Clara City Hall, 2603 Santa Clara Drive.
- Cost: Free.
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