A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hartwood Acres, Virtual Production)
- Choreographer: Choreographed by PBT Company Dancers: Tommie Kesten, Jessica McCann, Kurtis Sprowls and Cooper Verona. Conceived and arranged by PBT Artistic Director Susan Jaffe
- Music: Felix Mendelssohn
- Costumes: Janet Groom Campbell
- Set Design: This production was recorded in the woodlands and fields in Hartwood Acres, an Allegheny County park near Pittsburgh, PA.
- PBT Performance Date: Aired on Sunday, August 16, 2020 at 7 p.m.
Every August, thousands of dance fans, budding ballerinas and outdoor enthusiasts gather at beautiful Hartwood Acres for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s season opening performance under the stars. This year, PBT will bring the spirit and excitement of this annual event into homes throughout the region in a special primetime episode of The Allegheny County Summer Concert Series presented by BNY Mellon, which will broadcast on Pittsburgh’s CW, a KDKA affiliate station.
The episode dedicated to PBT, aired on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 7 p.m., featured a reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, conceived and arranged by Artistic Director Susan Jaffe in her first creative project for the company, with choreography by PBT Company dancers. Viewers will enjoy the serene greenery and pristine landscaping of Hartwood Acres from the comfort of their homes as the Shakespearean retelling unfolds in vignettes filmed throughout the estate. The program will include a narration from the children of PBT School, never-before-seen interviews with company dancers and ethereal costumes by Janet Groom Campbell.
Our performance is set to Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture (Op. 21) for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which he composed in 1826 when he was just 17 years old. Years later Mendelssohn composed a longer work (Incidental Music, Op. 61), which is not used in this production.
Our story starts midsummer, in Athens, Greece. A man named Egeus wants his daughter, Hermia, to marry a man named Demetrius. He asks Duke Theseus, who is about to get married himself, to a woman named Hippolyta, to help convince his daughter. But Hermia does not love Demetrius. She loves Lysander, who is a poet.
Lysander and Hermia run away into the woods to be together. Demetrius follows them. In the woods they meet their friend, Helena. Helena is in love with Demetrius. Hermia has an idea: if Helena and Demetrius should fall in love, Hermia can marry Lysander, and then all four of them will be happy!
But our friends from Athens are not the only people in the woods that night. The proud fairy queen Titania and the mighty fairy king Oberon are in a fight over a young man Oberon wants to make a knight. Titania leaves Oberon alone, and he decides to get back at her for disagreeing with him.
Oberon has a servant named Puck, who loves making mischief. Oberon tells Puck to use the power of a magic flower on Titania to make her fall in love with the first person she sees when she wakes up. He has also seen the four young friends from Athens, and he decides that Puck should also use the flower to help them, by making Demetrius fall in love with Helena.
Nearby in the woods, a group of actors is practicing a play to celebrate the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. The group is led by a very silly man named Bottom. Puck decides that Bottom is the person he should have Titania see when she wakes up. Because he loves tricks, Puck also decides to give the man a donkey’s head.
When Titania wakes up, she sees Bottom. When Lysander wakes up, he sees Helena. Now Titania is in love with Bottom the donkey-man, both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, and nobody is in love with Hermia. Everything is a mess.
Oberon realizes that he has hurt Titania and the young friends from Athens, and that Puck’s mischief has done more harm than good. He tells Puck to undo the spells, and to have everyone wake up in the morning with things back to normal. Puck agrees to undo his mischief.
Titania wakes up and remembers that she loves Oberon. Lysander wakes up and remembers he loves Hermia. Demetrius and Helena wake up and remember they love each other. Bottom wakes up, and is very happy to be a man again, and not a donkey!
All of the human couples – Theseus and Hippolyta, Hermia and Lysander, and Helena and Demetrius – get married at a grand celebration, and Bottom is finally able to perform his play. Titania and Oberon make up, and forgive Puck. They all live happily ever after, remembering the evening’s events as a midsummer night’s dream.