"Best Online Theater to Stream" - TimeOut NY
"What To Watch" - Times Square Chronicles
Ripple For Change Series
Live on Zoom August 29 & 30, 2020
EXTENDED via YOUTUBE thru Sept 5!
TSP Online Stage
To benefit The Ali Forney Center
The couples in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM just can’t catch a break, have you noticed that? Everyone is trying to tell them how to be and who to love: the government, their parents, themselves, crazy woodland fairies. It’s a lot like the society we live in now where lovers, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community, just can’t do their own thing without everyone and their mother trying to get involved. Our cast and production team, with a majority representing the LGBTQIA+ community (featuring Hermia and Lysander as a lesbian couple and a herd of non-binary fairies), will dive deep into this messy web of tyranny and prejudice to expose it for how silly it really is.
This play is being presented as a benefit for The Ali Forney Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness and empower them with the tools needed to live independently. To learn more about this fantastic organization, please visit: www.aliforneycenter.org
Synopsis for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM:
This story, brought to life by The Seeing Place, has been modernized to involve multiple LGTBQIA+ storylines.
Lysander loves Hermia, and Hermia loves Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius; Demetrius used to love Helena but now loves Hermia. Egeus, Hermia's father, prefers Demetrius as a suitor (as Lysander is a woman and same sex relationships are forbidden), and enlists the aid of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to enforce his wishes upon his daughter. According to Athenian law, Hermia is given four days to choose between Demetrius, life in a nunnery, or a death sentence. Hermia, ever defiant, chooses to escape with Lysander into the surrounding forest.
Complications arise in the forest, which is overridden with a herd of non-binary fairies. Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of Fairies, are locked in a dispute over a boy whom Titania has adopted. Oberon instructs his servant, Puck, to bring them magic love drops, which Oberon will sprinkle on Titania's eyelids as they sleep, whereupon Titania will fall in love with the first creature they see upon awakening. Meanwhile, Helena and Demetrius have also fled into the woods after Lysander and Hermia. Oberon, overhearing Demetrius's denouncement of Helena, takes pity upon her and tells Puck to place the magic drops upon the eyelids of Demetrius as well, so that Demetrius may fall in love with Helena. Puck, however, makes the mistake of putting the drops on the eyelids of Lysander instead. Helena stumbles over Lysander in the forest, and the spell is cast; Lysander now desires Helena and renounces a stunned Hermia.
In the midst of this chaos, a group of craftspeople are rehearsing for a production of "Pyramus and Thisbe," to be played for the Duke at his wedding. Puck impishly casts a spell on Bottom to give him the head of a donkey. Bottom, as luck would have it, is the first thing Titania sees when she awakens; hence, Bottom ends up being lavishly kept by the Queen. Oberon enjoys this sport, but is less amused when it becomes apparent that Puck has botched up the attempt to unite Demetrius and Helena. Oberon themself anoints Demetrius with the love potion and ensures that Helena is the first person he sees; however, Helena understandably feels that she is now being mocked by both Demetrius and Lysander (who is still magically enamored of her).
Finally, Oberon decides that all good sports must come to an end. He puts the four lovers to sleep and gives Lysander the antidote for the love potion so that she will love Hermia again when they all wake up. Next, Oberon gives Titania the antidote, and the royals reconcile. Theseus and Hippolyta then discover Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius asleep in the forest. All return to Athens to make sense of what they think is a strange dream. Likewise, Bottom returns to his players, and he and the male Flute perform the lovers' story, "Pyramus and Thisbe" at the wedding feast (which has since become a wedding of three couples). As everyone retires, fairies perform their blessings and Puck delivers a tender epilogue soliloquy.
Featuring original music by Randi Driscoll.
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes plus a brief intermission, followed by an informal talkback with the cast and creative team.
Reviews and Audience Response for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM:
"The Seeing Place Theater, now in its tenth season, offers indeed a talented ensemble of actors in a delightful late-summer mounting made for Zoom...Inspired by the legendary Group Theatre, The Seeing Place aims for an "organic, edgy American style of acting", evident by such turns as Cronican's comically lovesick presentation of Helena matched with her focused, businesslike portrayal of Peter Quince; Walker's Oberon has a growl with the over-the-top arrogance of a pro-wrestler; Laura Clare Browne wryly plays off the actor with flat non-amusement as Fairy Queen Titania; Puck, played with laid-back jauntiness by Peacock; and Dan Mack's hammy Bottom - his physical transformation into a symbolic animal is achieved with digital cartoon visuals while the actor supplies enthused vocal embellishment."- Michael Dale, Broadway World
"The Seeing Place Theater’s Zoom production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is perhaps the best Zoom work I’ve seen so far...They brought this magical comedy to life with great depth and understanding...The production gave us brilliant performances with outstanding digital effects and overall stellar direction. Not one of the eight actors came up short with their acting acumen, and notably, their awesome facility with the four hundred year old language. In almost all contemporary Shakespeare theater or film, at least one or some of the actors seem flat or stilted. But not here. All eight seemed to understand everything they were saying, and delivered their lines as if they were on a first name basis with The Bard. They also had such a deep understanding of the play, that they were able to communicate it to a twenty-first century audience easily. I just want to point out, that a late sixteenth century play about ancient Athens made itself at home in New York City in 2020. The humanity of that astounds me."- William Cataldi, Ewing Reviewing
"Queer "Midsummer Night's Dream" Offers a Most Rare Vision. Queer reimaginings of canonical texts, such as The Seeing Place Theater's virtual reading of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, thus perform a vital role in constructing a robust counterdiscourse within our heteronormative culture...Like "Bottom's Dream," The Seeing Place provides a fresh and fantastical perspective on an established experience."- John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards, Thinking Theater
"Now in their tenth season, The Seeing Place Theater put on one of the most enjoyable renditions of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream I have yet to see...The talented ensemble of eight doubled up on their roles, which they executed quite well. As someone who is a part of the [LGTBQ] community, it felt nice to see myself represented in such an iconic play...I, for one, can’t wait to see what the theater company has in store for us next!" - Jacy Topps, Manhattan With A Twist
"The Seeing Place's Charming Zoom A MIDSUMMER NIGHT DREAM is very enjoyable to watch. The actors rehearsed it quite well, and delivered a great performance from their own homes across America. The Zoom backgrounds were carefully chosen with surprisingly good special effects–notably Bottom’s donkey head. Kudos to The Seeing Place!"- Lucas Eller, Viva Lifestyles
"The Seeing Place MIDSUMMER is playful and socially relevant: It might be closing in on fall, but the online production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by The Seeing Place Theater has proven that there is always time for playful and socially relevant interpretations of this classic comedy...What the Seeing Place Theater does that is really smart is that they use the elements within the show, and a few modern touches to show how much the modern world and prejudices have in common with a play written over 400 years ago...The cast performances are strong, with lots of laughs, and relationships build satisfyingly among the characters. Performed over a live Zoom link the casts fine performances are aided by the technology at hand to great effect."- EM Reiter, Talk Theatre To Me
"I was excited to see what The Seeing Place Theater in New York had done to make Midsummer, often a very physical show, work on the Zoom platform. I know many people decry Zoom-based theater and long for a return to in-person shows. I long for in-person shows as well, but the creativity artists are showing as they play with this new format is, honestly, delightful. Overall, this is a very enjoyable production of Midsummer, and it couldn’t be for a better cause."- Melissa Hillman, Bitter Gertrude
"I saw a live play from my couch! The Seeing Place performed queer Shakespeare (Midsummer) as a fundraiser for Ali Forney Center. I really liked it & the Zoom production took good advantage of new possibilities presented by the medium." - Mel Goldsipe, Two Show Days
"New York City based theater company The Seeing Place is on to something. They found new ways to use Zoom to present a unique reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. An outstanding cast gave two live presentations. Using a variety of enhanced camera and visual effects, the production was a feast for the eyes and ears.Excellent camera work brought good closeups of the actors on screen and it made the dialog easier than usual to understand. I happened to watch the presentation on a fairly large screen and it seemed like the actors were right in the room with me. It brought a new awareness of all that was being said and done." - Karen Nowasad, Let's Go To The Theater
"The young lover couples in The Seeing Place Theater‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are really the driving force of this production, and in my eyes, every production of this fantastically sweet Shakespearean play...The cast and production team do some pretty fine work with the text, fleshing out the fun and driving the piece forward." - Steven Ross, Front Mezz Junkies
"Your company was such fun to find! Each of you completely rocked Shakespeare's text . . . learned a lot watching all of you work out. The technical affects just made it all that much more fun, but your work in interpreting the text was such an education for me. Well worth my small donation of $10, but really glad you were able to share with the public for such a nominal sum. And good to hear you're able to stick together during this crisis. Many smaller companies are dissolving..." - Denise Pence, Patron
FREE WITH YOUR TICKET - Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30
(immediately following reading)
Speakers: The Cast and Creative Team of MIDSUMMER Theme: Creating MIDSUMMER for the Zoom Stage
This talkback will enable audience members to talk directly to the artists who created A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM about their experiences with the play, how it was rehearsed for Zoom, and its relevance to a modern audience.
FREE - Wednesday, September 2, 2020 (6pm Eastern Time, via Zoom)
Speakers: Russell Gregory, Ali Forney Center, with an opening statement from City Councilperson Carlina Rivera Theme: Action Steps: How to Address Homelessness in the LGTBQIA+ Youth Community
This panel discussion with speaker Russell Gregory from the Ali Forney Center (bio below) explores the themes of the play A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM and how we can use what the play teaches us to take positive action toward supporting LGTBQIA+ youths.
Information and Articles about LGTBQ homelessness:
Russell Gregory, Ali Forney Center - Russell is currently the Assistant Director of Crisis Housing at the Ali Forney Center in Harlem, New York. Russell manages 6 crisis shelters for young adults aged 16-24. Russell manages a team of 70 housing professionals that assist homeless young adults with navigating the multi-layered NYC housing system. As a graduate of an HBCU, Russell has worked in communities of color providing housing resource management to disenfranchised young adults for nearly 10 years. Prior to the Ali Forney Center, Russell worked at Bailey House executing substance use programming for young adults living with HIV.
Carlina Rivera, New York City Councilwoman District 2 - represents the 2nd Council District which includes the diverse neighborhoods of the East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. Since taking office in 2017, Carlina has fought for the affordability and livability of New York City by championing issues around affordable housing, small business survival, equitable healthcare, transportation, and quality of life issues. In addition to tackling these tough legislative issues, she has taken a stand for gender equity as the Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus by sponsoring legislation on sexual harassment and the gender wage gap.