A Dream within “A Dream”

Tonight I fulfil a dream. To be on the stage in a play. A play by the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. (why he was not knighted or made a lord of something I do not know!) At school we studied Macbeth, I love that play, and I really wanted to act out the words of Shakespeare. But life went off on a tangent and though I appeared on stage in amateur productions of “The Mikado” and “Ruddigore” as “chorus” ,that career path didn’t happen.

Fast forward 30 year (gosh is it really that long ago??) I am a storyteller and Mom of beautiful daughters and through their youth theatre, I met Mel and Carl at Appletree.

There was a flier for open auditions for Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Why not thought I, thinking it would be a good experience, to see what auditions were really like and to see how other people portrayed the characters.

To my total surprise, I was offered a part –  PHILOSTRATE from Dream.

Now you may or may not know, that PHILOSTRATE is butler to Theseus, and Master of Revels, and is very often cut from the play, his part being distributed between Lysander and Egeus. But PHILOSTRATE was Shakespeare’s satire of the theatre system of the time. You could not get a play put on until it had been passed “the Master of Revels” so to playwrights he was hurdle to be overcome!dscf7556

In Here to There Productions  “Dream” set in Athens in 1955,  PHILOSTRATE becomes “Phyllis O’Strate” a determined spinster Aunt, using her brother Egeus as a stepping stone to climb to new heights in the household of Theseus and Hippolyta.  As Aunt to Hermia, she approves of Lysander with his “Nosegays and poetry” as she thinks it terribly romantic and dislikes the overbearing and unfaithful Demetrius, whom her brother would have marry her niece!  Thus she is very pleased when the four young lovers are paired more romantically by fairie magic!

She appears in Scene 1, and Scene 5, but her spoken part is in Scene 7, where she gives Theseus a list of the marques and merriments available for the evening. Usually either Theseus or Egeus deliver the list, but in this production, Phyllis has a shining moment and delivers some of the best words (in my opinion) ever in a play!

“The Battle with the Centaurs, to be sung by an Athenian Eunoch to the harp”

“The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, tearing a Thracian singer in their rage”  (actual titles of plays in Shakespeare’s time, accoriding to Wikipedia)

Thus the list goes on until the Mechanicals play is the only one left on the list, but to be honest, Phyllis has seen it and thinks it is crap! And in trying to dissuade Theseus, loses her rag a bit, but the play is presented, and she gets to say “The prologue is addressed” with much contempt!

So there you have it, a usually overlooked Shakespeare character, but one that I have been given the privilege to play and bring to life.  It has been a wonderful few months, meeting all the fabulous folks involved, and learning so much along the way. Rehearsals have been a joy to be at and I shall miss them when it’s over. Who knows, this could be the first step on a new ladder for me – we shall see!

There are parallels with storytelling and much to differentiate between the two, especially as engaging with the audience goes, but it has been amazing.

So I go to my first night, all a-tremble, and butterflies in residence in my stomach, but determined to do my best and not disappoint my fellow actors and stage management and especially Director Carl Walker and Stage Manager Sally Walker, who I would like to thank for giving me this chance to fulfil a life-long dream, by being in “Dream”

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