Summer Theatre: June  - 2009
  A Midsummer Nights Dream
by William Shakespeare
directed by Anna Antaramian

The wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to the amazon Hippolyta is fast approaching.  In the nearby woods, Oberon and Titania, the king and queen of the fairies, are quarreling and stand in stubborn opposition to each other. A group of tormented young lovers traipse through the forest while a band of bumbling but earnest working class actors practice a play.   Worlds collide as Oberon’s trusty sprite, Puck, uses his fairy mischief to intertwine their lives with hilarious effect. Join us for an evening full of royalty and rustics, of determined romantics and whimsical spirits, and of the magic of love in this poetic and unforgettable tale told through the beauty of Shakespeare’s language.


The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazonian queen, Hippolyta, and set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon.

In the opening scene, Hermia refuses to follow her father Egeus's instructions for her to marry his chosen man, Demetrius. In response, Egeus quotes before Theseus an ancient Athenian law whereby a daughter must marry the suitor chosen by her father, or else face death. Theseus does not want this young girl to die, and offers her another choice, lifelong chastity worshipping the goddess Diana as a nun. (The word 'nun' in this sense is an anachronism.)

Hermia and her lover Lysander decide to elope by escaping through the forest at night. Hermia informs her friend Helena, but Helena has recently been rejected by Demetrius and decides to win back his favour by revealing the plan to him. Demetrius, followed doggedly by Helena, chases Hermia. Hermia and Lysander, believing themselves safely out of reach, sleep in the woods.

Meanwhile, Oberon, king of the fairies, and his queen, Titania, were in the forest outside Athens. Titania tells Oberon that she plans to stay there until after she has attended Theseus and Hippolyta's wedding. Oberon and Titania are estranged because Titania refuses to give her Indian changeling to Oberon for use as his "knight" or "henchman," since the child's mother was one of Titania's worshippers. Oberon seeks to punish Titania's disobedience. So he calls for the mischievous Puck (also called Hobgoblin and Robin Goodfellow) to help him apply a magical juice from a flower called "love-in-idleness", which when applied to a person's sleeping eyelids while sleeping makes the victim fall in love with the first living thing seen upon awakening. He instructs Puck to retrieve the flower so that he can make Titania fall in love with some vile creature of the forest. Oberon streaks Titania's eyes with the juice while she is sleeping to distract her and force her to give up the page-boy.

Having seen Demetrius act cruelly toward Helena, Oberon orders Puck to spread some of the elixir on the eyelids of the young Athenian man. Instead, Puck accidentally puts the juice on the eyes of Lysander, who then falls in love with Helena. Oberon sees Demetrius still following Hermia and is enraged. When Demetrius decides to go to sleep, Oberon sends Puck to get Helena while he charms Demetrius' eyes. Due to Puck's drastic mistake of putting the juice on Lysander's eyes, both lovers now fight over Helena instead of Hermia. Helena, however, is convinced that her two suitors are mocking her, as neither loved her originally. The four pursue and quarrel with each other most of the night, until they become so enraged that they seek a place to duel each other to the death to settle the quarrel. Oberon orders Puck to keep the lovers from catching up with one another in the forest and to re-charm Lysander for Hermia.

Meanwhile, a band of six lower-class labourers ("rude mechanicals", as they are described by Puck) have arranged to perform a crude play about Pyramus and Thisbe for Theseus' wedding, and venture into the forest, near Titania's bower, for their rehearsal. Nick Bottom, a stage-struck weaver, is spotted by Puck, who transforms his head into that of a donkey. When Bottom returns for his next lines, the other workmen take one look at him and run screaming in terror. Determined to wait for his friends, he begins to sing to himself. Titania is awakened by Bottom's singing and immediately falls in love with him. She treats him like a nobleman and lavishes him with attention. While in this state of devotion, she encounters Oberon and casually gives him the Indian boy. Having achieved his goals, Oberon releases Titania and orders Puck to remove the ass's head from Bottom. The magical enchantment is removed from Lysander but is allowed to remain on Demetrius, so that he may reciprocate Helena's love.

The fairies then disappear, and Theseus and Hippolyta arrive on the scene, during an early morning hunt. They wake the lovers and, since Demetrius doesn't love Hermia anymore, Theseus over-rules Egeus's demands and arranges a group wedding. The lovers decide that the night's events must have been a dream. After they all exit, Bottom awakes, and he too decides that he must have experienced a dream "past the wit of man." In Athens, Theseus, Hippolyta and the lovers watch the six workmen perform Pyramus and Thisbe. It is ridiculous and badly performed but gives everyone pleasure regardless, and afterward everyone retires to bed. Afterwards, Oberon, Titania, Puck, and other fairies enter, and bless the house and its occupants with good fortune.

The action begins at the beautiful court of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and later moves to the mystical forest inhabited by Oberon and Titania, King and queen of the fairies.  It is the magical story of star-crossed lovers, overly ambitious homespun rustics and misadventures with the fairies.

Brad Cantwell (Oberon) recently appeared at the Stage Center Theatre as Amenuensis/Geronte in The Illusion and as Teddy in How He Lied To Her Husband.  Other favorite roles include Nick in A Thousand Clowns and Whitney in Life With Father.  Brad is thrilled to work with this wonderful group, and he thanks the loves of his life, Lisa and McCoy, for their inspiration.

Lisa Cantwell (Titania) is thrilled beyond belief to be a part of this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It has been her lifelong dream to play a fairy.  She is currently a graduate student in Communication, Media, and Theatre here at NEIU.  Favorite roles include Dog in Wiley and the Hairy Man, Miss Lynch in Grease, and Miss Framer in Lettice and Lovage.  Thanks to the fabulous cast and crew for this unforgettable experience, to Anna for putting sunshine in each day, and to my boys, Brad and McCoy, for filling every day with love.

Chris Leonard (Quince) has a BA in Theatre from the University of Central Florida and a MA in Linguistics from NEIU.  He has acted in numerous productions at the Stage Centre Theatre including The Real Inspector Hound, Dracula, and Much Ado About Nothing.  His directing credits include The Actor’s Nightmare, Joe and Stew’s Theatre of Brotherly Love and Financial Success, Oedi and The Illusion.  Later this year, Chris will be appearing in And on the Eighth Day and next year he will be directing A Tale of Two Cities. 

George Christopher (Lysander) is once again performing for the Stage Center Theatre, though he’s been a creator and performer at heart all his life.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 2006.  Since then he has worked in China where he acted, directed, and produced plays.  While in Hong Kong he worked as an extra.  Since returning to Chicago months ago he has been working more regularly as an actor.

Alicia Reese (Puck) is thrilled to be performing in one of the Bard’s plays!  She has her B.A. in Theatre from Southeastern University, as well as having completed the Summer Training Congress in Classical Theatre at the American Conservatory Theatre.  Chicago credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Importance of Being Earnest, and the Dream Theatre’s Theatre of Women III and Theatre of Women IV.  She wants to thank her Lord and Savior; her husband, Court; Mom and Daddy; and all the cast and crew!

Robert Babcock (Flute) is returning for his third appearance at Stage Center Theatre, and is grateful for the opportunity to work with such an incredible cast and crew for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Favorite past credits included The Laramie Project, Othello, and Taking Steps.  He is excited to work with the wonderful Anna Antaramian again, and would like to thank all his friends and family for their continued love and support.

Nathan Pease (Demetrius) holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Michigan-Flint, and spent the last two seasons as Resident Artist with Flint Youth Theatre performing in A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit, and Frankenstein.  He has also been in The Diary of Anne Frank, Middle Passage, Holiday Memories, and Arthur, King Of Britain. In addition, Nathan has also worked with The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, BoarsHead Theatre, First Folio Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Flint City Theatre, Jewish Ensemble Theatre, Union Theatre Company, and September Productions.

Jesus Matta (Egeus) is thrilled to make his Stage Center Theatre debut. His pride and joy was spending eight glorious years as an ensemble member with the nationally acclaimed Albany Park Theater Project helping in many different forms to create original theatrical productions. After taking some much needed time off to focus on academics, he is very excited and relieved to get back on stage. Special thanks to Anna and company for accepting me into their world and getting me reacquainted with the medium I love so much.

Colleen McCready (Helena) is elated to be performing with the Stage Center Theatre again.  She was seen last summer as Kendall Adams in Stage Door.  Other credits include: Mrs. Cyrus Pickard in He Said, She Said, Lyse in The Illusion, and Chrysothemis in Electra.  Colleen would like to thank the cast and crew for such a wonderful experience.  She would also like to thank Anna for this amazing opportunity, and especially thank Mark and Sebastian for their love and support as she follows her dream.

Andrew Berlien (Snout) is a native to Chicago.  He is delighted to be acting at the Stage Centre Theatre once again.  He was last seen as the title character in the Studio Series production of Queer Strindberg and the main stage production of Electra and Charley’s Aunt.  Andrew would like to thank Anna, Shakespeare, and the entire cast and crew for allowing him this wonderful opportunity.  Oh, and Mom? Dad? My shoes hurt for you.

Pearl Paramadilok (Blue Bell) is glad to be back at the Stage Centre Theatre.  She was recently seen in Lettice and Lovage, Queer Strindberg, and Stage Door.  She mostly has been concentrating on her studies but is compelled to travel the “road not taken”.  She sends all her love to the ones who have rescued her many times.  Pearl would also like to thank Anna and Professor Mace for all the opportunities.

Mark Heard (Snug) is appearing in his third Stage Center Theatre production.  He was last seen in Pieces of Eight, and Charley’s Aunt.  A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his first Shakespearian production.  Mark has a background in musical theatre, appearing in Jesus Christ Superstar, and Once Upon a Mattress, to name a few. Mark is majoring in CMT at NEIU, and would someday like to return to his musical theatre roots.  Mark would like to thank Anna for her outstanding direction and is excited to be working with her and the wonderful cast and crew.

Laura Gryfinski (Sweetpea) is thrilled to be acting yet again at Stage Center Theatre. She is in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and second major in CMT here at NEIU.   She appeared in Stage Door, and Electra. She would like to thank Anna for the opportunity to be a part of this production by playing Sweetpea and working with Allen on the technical aspects of the show.  And special thanks to all those who have long supported her along the way! This one's for you Grandma.

Joel Thompson (Theseus) is making his first appearance at Northeastern Illinois University’s Stage Center Theatre. But he is no stranger to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, having played Puck twice, he is happy for the chance to portray a human. He was last seen as Einstein in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Favorite roles include Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, James Keller from Miracle Worker and the Colonel from Brave Navigator. He would like to thank his friends and family for their constant support of his art!

Kathleen Griffin (Cobweb) is happy to once again be on stage here at NEIU.  Though her role as stage manager (Queer Strindberg) was on stage, her role as assistant stage manager (Pieces of Eight) was off stage.  Other acting credits include Duck, Duck, Goose, and Aladdin at the College of DuPage.  Kathleen would like to thank all those who support her with her love of acting.

Tom Camacho (Starveling) is grateful for being part of this talented cast in this fantastic opportunistic role. This is his seventh production at Northeastern Illinois University as he continues his second year as a graduate student in the Communication, Media and Theater Department.  Tom founded, developed and directs The Serendipity Youth Theatre which brings theater to underprivileged Chicago Public Schools.

Yvette Mohill (Moth) is excited to be in her first main stage production here at the Stage Centre Theatre.  She was last seen in the productions The Secret Lives of Toads and The Jungle Book, with the Children’s Theatre Workshop. She is an undergraduate student here at Northeastern Illinois University, majoring in English.

Norma Saldana (Peaseblossom) is thrilled to be working with the Stage Center Theatre.  Theatre has always been one of her greatest passions since elementary school.  Because of her English teacher, Norma learned to love acting and theatre.  She is also thankful for having a Mother who has always been there for her, guiding through her life, and is one of her greatest fans.  Norma would like to thank her love, Miguel and her closest friends, for being her biggest support.  This play is dedicated to her Godmother: Eleanor, may you rest in peace.

Production Staff

Director……………………………………………….Anna Antaramian
Assistant Director…………………………….Allen Davis
Stage Manager……………………………………Kyle Young
Assistant Stage Manager………………..Laura Gryfinski
Scenic Designer ………………………………..Jessica Kuehnau
Lighting Designer………………………………John Rodriguez
Costume Designer……………………………..Elizabeth Wislar
Technical Director…………………………….Brandon Wardell
Theatre Manager……………………………….Sara Moss
Box Office Manager………………………….Donna Duraj
House Manager…………………………………Mike Nemeth
Theatre Bookkeeper…………………………Becca Raven Uminowicz
Poster Designer………………………………..Cheryl Lyman
Production Assistant……………………...Maria Jimenez
Light Board Operator………………………Mike Nemeth
Sound Board Operator……………………Abby Lenz
Set Construction & Crew………….……..Summer Theatre Class

Artistic Staff Bio

Anna Antaramian (Director) has been a member of NEIU’s theatre family for the past nineteen years. She is the Managing and Artistic Director of the Stage Center Theatre, Thymely Theatre, and is a past president of the Illinois Theatre Association. She holds an M.F.A. from New York University and has worked in various theatrical venues across the country, the most recent being the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Special thanks to H-S-A-N-T and, as always, Mr. McGuire.

Allen Davis (Assistant Director) graduated with a Master's degree in Communication from Northeastern Illinois University.  He has appeared in numerous productions here at the Stage Center Theatre, as well as working with the A Red Orchid Theatre, August Ensemble, Fourth Wall, Marquee Theatre Company, and Thymely Theatre.  Some of his favorite roles were Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, Gately in Pvt. Wars, and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing.  Allen would like to take this time to thank everyone for their support and understanding.  Enjoy the show.

Kyle Young (Stage Manager) is a recent truant graduate who was unable to fall into the ne’er-do-well status he dreamed of after school.  Kyle’s agoraphobia defines him now, as well as the fact that he is not the lothario he hoped he was turning into.

Jessica Kuehnau (Scenic Designer) is pleased to be designing sets for the Stage Center Theatre. Since completing her MFA in Scenic and Costume Design at Northwestern University, she has been designing sets and costumes for such notable theatres as Lifeline Theatre, MPAACT, The Griffin, Vittum Theatre, Light Opera Works and Metropolis Performing Arts Center. Ms. Kuehnau is also the resident set designer at North Park University.

John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) joined the theatre faculty at Northeastern four years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer on Stage Center productions.  This past season he designed the lights for the four main stage productions: Charley’s Aunt, Electra, The Illusion, and Lettice and Lovage, and for the two Thymely Theatre productions last summer: Stage Door and Taking Steps.

Elizabeth Powell Wislar (Costume Designer) has been designing in the Chicago area for over six years. A few memorable productions: Queen Lucia , Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, The Silver Chair, Lucia del' Lammermoor, La Traviata, The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro, The Three Penny Opera, Die Fledermaus, Cosi Fan Tutte, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, A Room With A View, Die Zauberfloete (The Magic Flute), Sweeney Todd, Carnival, Design for Living, and The Mikado.   Elizabeth is the 2004 recipient of the Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award.

Brandon Wardell (Technical Director) is a freelance Lighting/Scenic designer and technical director in Chicago. He received his MFA from Northwestern University in 2007.  Recent Lighting credits include: On An Average Day (Backstage Theatre Co.), The Arab-Israeli Cookbook (Theatre Mir), and The Robber Bridegroom (Griffin Theatre Co.).  Recent scenic designs include: Maria’s Field (TUTA), In Arabia We’d All Be Kings (Steep Theatre), and Dracula (The Building Stage). Teaching credits include Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Illinois Wesleyan University.

Shakespeare’s Happy Kingdom

    Unless you are a 20th century Freudian, Marxist or feminist, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the happiest of confections. The Freudian might play up the bestial nature of love as evidenced in Bottom’s affair; the Marxist might complain about the aristocratic marginalization of proletariat artisans; and feminists, of course, would question the play’s subjugation of women and daughters. And to a certain degree they would not be wrong. But such readings implicitly fault Shakespeare for living when he did. What’s worse is that in the last 40 years, say, the influence of those readings of Shakespeare on most productions of this great comedy have been enormous. Such productions ignore the very heart of Shakespeare’s achievement in Midsummer, which is to present the happiest of worlds, a world that excludes disease and death, but which includes all else.

    Shakespeare’s audience for this play included that most powerful woman, Queen Elizabeth. The audience also included the uneducated poor. All social levels between queen and beggar comprised the rest of the audience. The actors on stage represent a similar gamut. The regal is found in Theseus and Hippolyta. There are courtiers, of course. The middle and merchant classes are represented by the lovers; the poor and undereducated are presented in the ‘rude mechanicals’ or tradesmen. How few of these characters have individual personalities! The duke and his future bride, at times, seem like mere functionaries; they fulfill their regal roles. Both male lovers, equally ardent, are virtually interchangeable, and the play makes a point of someone’s confusing them. The two female lovers are a little different: One is a rebellious daughter bent on marrying a man her father disapproves of; she is also an angry dynamo with a chip on her short shoulders. The other female lover is by turns reasonable, emotional, confused and indifferent.  Even so, the lovers, both men and women, fulfill certain functions as well. They do what all young lovers do in literature. They comically fall in and out of love at the drop of a flower.

    The tradesmen are the real heart of the play. They have their functions, too, in that they provide the comedy of aspiration. As they aspire to be the king’s entertainment, they become more endearing than the lovers or the king and queen ever could. And they are not merely interchangeable as the lovers are. They each have traits that individualize them even while they remain uncomplicated. We know who Peter Quince is and the struggle of his aspiration; we recognize the young man waiting for his first beard and the embarrassment of his being asked to play a girl; we know the loquacious and harmless and gentle Bottom.  

    But Shakespeare also includes the fairy element in this comedy, the world of sprites made visible for the length of the show. Odd as it may seem, it is the faeries who create order in the play; they also create much of the play’s disorder. The intersection between the fairy world and the ‘real’ world of the play is mostly one-sided. Puck performs his shenanigans and people can only suspect a spritely agent of influence. That is, until Bottom becomes the beloved of the fairy queen. The joke, of course, is on the queen, Titania, but most of the laughs are at Bottom’s expense. When, later on, Bottom gropes to remember the experience which he perceives only darkly and as a dream, we again see aspiration: The human need to say what cannot be said. In Bottom’s words, and with no apology to St. Paul, “The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of  man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was.”
Patrick McGuire
English Department, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Cast and Crew
The cast and crew of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Anna Antaramian (Director), back row, 5th from the left

Special Thanks to
The Department of Communication, Media and Theatre Faculty and Staff, Lisa Cantwell, Colleen McCready, Sara Moss, Tom Camacho, Laura Gryfinski, Kyle Young, Allen Davis, Becca Raven Uminowicz, and the Departments of  Accounts Payable, Budget, and Purchasing

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