Announcing Midsommer Flight’s Artistic Ensemble

Happy New Year!

Although the Midsommer Flight website has been quiet since our summer production of Romeo and Juliet closed, the company is definitely still at work.  Exciting things are in store for Midsommer Flight in 2014.  Starting with…

…the formation of Midsommer Flight’s Artistic Ensemble.  These talented and dedicated artists have already made significant contributions to the company over the first two years.  Please join us in welcoming the new faces of the company!  You can read about these fantastic folks on our brand new Meet the Company page.

Midsommer Flight Artistic Ensemble
Ashlee Edgemon

John Ham
Kanome’ Jones
Beth Laske-Miller (Resident Costume Designer)
Molly Lyons
J. Preddie Predmore
Dylan Roberts (Producing Manager)
Brian Scannell
Chris Smith
Julian Stroop
Sheila Willis

More Praise for Romeo and Juliet!

The praise keeps coming for Romeo and Juliet!  Chicago Theater Beat had quite a lot to say about our fantastic production:

[Romeo and Juliet] has captured the imaginations of generations and has been performed and adapted many times over – so much so that making a performance of Romeo and Juliet seem fresh is a challenging task. Midsommer Flight‘s Romeo and Juliet, however, manages to do exactly that….

Performed in Schreiber Park, this theatre experience is laid-back, and the production seems to foster a true sense of community as families who wandered into the park to play, were drawn to the show. It was also wonderful seeing young children in the audience….

[Ashlee Edgemon as Juliet] gives a spirited and endearing performance, and in Juliet’s happier moments, manages to exude a joy that is infectious. In the more somber moments of play, Edgemon’s performance deftly transitions to mournful without feeling sudden or overdone…. Edgemon and Brian Scannell, who played Romeo, have great chemistry together…. Another thoroughly enjoyable performance is Molly Lyonsas Juliet’s nurse. Lyons’ sincerity lends a sense of authenticity to Juliet’s scenes with her, which are among the best in the play.

Overall, this clean-cut execution of possibly the most famous love story in the world wins because it gives you the play as is, straight up, just as Shakespeare intended it (or as close as we can get today!) Whether you have read “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” or are only just beginning to dip into the Bard’s works, this a great way to spend a relaxing midsummer eve.  –Anuja Vaidya

You can read the entire review here.

Romeo and Juliet is Reader Recommended!

What a fabulous opening weekend!  Romeo and Juliet opened to great audiences and lovely weather. The audience reaction so far is uniformly positive, from the neighborhood kids to the seasoned theatergoers who came out to the park this weekend. We can already tell this is going to go by too fast — only three weeks left now to see the show.

Our first review is in and it’s a rave!  The Chicago Reader sings our praises and has added Romeo and Juliet to their Recommended list:

I’d be singing the praises of Midsommer Flight’s latest, an outdoor performance of Romeo and Juliet in Rogers Park’s Schreiber Park, even if I weren’t so admiring of its mission: to perform Shakespeare in under-served communities. Part of the thrill was the random appearance of intrigued locals not used to hearing Shakespeare in a corner lot. R & J is, of course, the classic tale of emotional extremity. Director Beth Wolf moves things along with speed and agility, cutting strategically and keeping the whole thing under two hours. The simple set (four wooden boxes which become balcony, bed, and tomb) allows the words to take center stage. The actors are uniformly strong, from bawdy scene stealers Mercutio (Julian Stroop) and Nurse (Molly Lyons) to the solid leading lovers. Brendan Hutt’s Friar Lawrence had me considering the radical, subversive role of the church in devotion to love. —Suzanne Scanlon

We are so incredibly proud of this show and the work that the cast and crew have done to bring it to life.  If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss Romeo and Juliet!

Free and Accessible to All

One of the basic tenets of the Midsommer Flight philosophy is to keep our shows free and accessible to everyone.  That’s why our performances are presented free of charge, out in the open in public parks, where anyone can stop by and see Shakespeare’s amazing stories told by an excited and passionate troupe of actors.

With our first show last year, we witnessed firsthand the impact that this kind of work can have on the community.  Kids hanging out in the park became interested and engaged in our work.  As actors came to rehearsals in the park, neighborhood kids stopped them to ask questions about the show.  Those same kids sat, rapt, watching us during rehearsals, and they came back to see the full play once we began performances.  We reached an audience that truly reflected the community we were in. At the end of the summer, this impact was recognized by the Chicago City Council when they adopted a resolution to honor our “dedication to bringing the arts to underserved communities.”

If you agree with us that Shakespeare in the park should be free and accessible to all, then please consider making a contribution to support our work.  Even on a shoestring, producing a play has financial considerations.  There are costumes, props, marketing materials, and so many other costs that have to be covered to make the show happen.

To support our production of Romeo and Juliet this summer, please check out our fundraising campaign. A donation of any amount will help us reach our goal.  In return, you’ll receive our public gratitude with your name listed on the Special Thanks section of this website.

You can be a part of our mission to keep Shakespeare in the park free and accessible to all. You can help make the show happen!

Announcing the Cast of Romeo and Juliet

Rehearsals start tonight for Romeo and Juliet.  We are so excited to jump off the cliff with the following wonderful folks!

CAST  
Ashlee Edgemon Juliet
Nick Ferrin Gregory, Peter, Paris’ Page
John Ham Benvolio
Brendan Hutt Friar Lawrence
Kanome’ Jones Chorus, Prince
Nyle Kenning Sampson, Friar John
Molly Lyons Nurse
Mason Pain Paris
J. Preddie Predmore Lord Capulet
Rachael Proulx Lady Montague
Brian Scannell Romeo
Chris Smith Tybalt
Julian Stroop Mercutio
Adam Welsh Abraham, Balthazar
Sheila Willis Lady Capulet
   
CREW  
Beth Wolf Director
Dylan Roberts Assistant Director
Beth Laske-Miller Costume Designer
Ross Lemmon Props Designer
David Yondorf Violence Designer

For more information about our cast and crew, please visit the Meet the Artists page.

Announcing Summer 2013 Plans

We are delighted to announce our selection for our next Shakespeare adventure: Romeo and Juliet

On the heels of last summer’s successful two-week run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Touhy Park, we will return to the north side this year with a longer run of performances and an expanded reach in the community. Performances will span four weeks this summer, with two weeks returning to Touhy Park as well as two weeks at nearby Schreiber Park. We are excited to partner once again with the Chicago Park District, especially with the opportunity this year to deepen our relationship with Touhy as well as to forge a connection with our new friends at Schreiber.

The play will be directed by Midsommer Flight founder and Producing Artistic Director Beth Wolf. Just like last year, all performances will be presented free of charge (donations gratefully accepted).  In addition, live music will be presented prior to each performance, and audiences are encouraged to come early and bring a picnic. We’ll post more details about the show as we get closer to the performances, including cast and crew listings, musical guests, and logistical information about planning your trip to the park.

We hope you’ll join us in July and August for another incredible experience this year.  We are thrilled to share Shakespeare’s beautiful and passionate story of young love this summer!

***

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO AND JULIET

July 27 – August 18, 2013
Saturdays at 6:00 PM
Sundays at 2:00 PM

July 27-28 and August 3-4
Schreiber Park
1552 W. Schreiber Avenue
Chicago, IL 60626
Field at the corner of Bosworth Avenue and Schreiber Avenue           

August 10-11 and 17-18
Touhy Park

7348 N. Paulina Street
Chicago, IL 60626
Southeast grove along Paulina Street

Sharing More Joy

The overwhelmingly positive response to our work last summer, which reached close to 300 audience members plus numerous other passersby, and which resulted in official recognition from the Chicago City Council, has led this little Shakespeare in the park adventure to begin to expand.  Partially that means making plans for a new production in summer 2013 with an even bigger community reach than last year. In addition, it means beginning to lay more formal administrative groundwork for the company to grow. 

So, we are embarking on the process of incorporating Midsommer Flight as a not-for-profit corporation.  This will allow us to handle some of the administrative realities of producing theatre with more ease.  It is also a big step for an endeavor that started last summer as a little passion project, but has been met with a huge show of support from the community.

A big part of incorporating the company means bringing together a Board of Directors.  Producing Artistic Director Beth Wolf is joined by arts supporters Nick Dlouhy, Christopher Lentino, Sarah Snow, and Zack Whittington to form the founding Board of Directors of Midsommer Flight.  Their support and enthusiasm for our mission to bring Shakespeare in the park to Chicago communities will be vital as Midsommer Flight begins to grow.  Welcome Nick, Chris, Sarah and Zack to the Midsommer Flight family!

The process of incorporation and application for tax exempt status won’t happen overnight; it can take six months or longer.  We will certainly post updates as we accomplish milestones along the way.  Wish us luck!

The Dark Lady revealed?

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
     And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
     As any she belied with false compare.

Thus reads Sonnet 130, Shakespeare’s famous ode to a mysterious Dark Lady who occupies the author’s affections through Sonnets 127 to 154.  Historians have wondered for centuries just who this woman might be, who so captured the author’s intense attention.

Now, one historian thinks he has solved the mystery and has identified Aline Florio, the wife of an Italian translator, as the unnamed woman.  You can read the full article here:

Has Shakespeare’s Dark Lady been revealed?

What old December’s bareness every where!

This fall has offered a small reprieve from the hard work we put in over the summer, but at the same time, it is starting to feel too long since we were out in the park, speaking Shakespeare’s glorious words to the summer sky.  And we still have the long winter to survive before we can be out there again!  A perfect melancholy sonnet comes to mind…

Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness every where!
And yet this time removed was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
   Or, if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.

But do not despair, dear readers and Shakespeare lovers.  There is much to look forward to…

Urban Sprawl vs. Historic Romance

Apparently, developers have received approval to build modern homes, shops and more less than 300 yards away from Anne Hathaway’s cottage home in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Understandably, this is causing quite an outcry from those who wish to protect the historic site where Shakespeare once wooed his wife-to-be.

You can read the full article here.

(For the more immature amongst us, we should also note that the villain in this narrative is a government bureaucrat named Mr. Pickles.)

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