Student's Dream stages Midsummer's Pioneer Trek

Published: October 02, 2014 | Author: Jennifer Burt | Read Time: 3 minutes

Fairies, lovers, magic and handcarts? It’s certainly not what one would expect to see in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but Nathan Smith, student director of SUU College of Performing and Visual Arts' fall production, says he thinks the combination is a magical blend.

“I want to use A Midsummer Night’s Dream to tell a southwestern fairy tale,” says Smith, whose upcoming play is set in pioneer Utah. “The production will blend pioneer history and the heritage of our local community with Native American Mythology and Shakespeare’s classic text."

The idea for this unique spin on William Shakespeare’s classic comedy was first contrived by Smith and friend Josh Durfey. “About a year ago I directed a production of Macbeth. The play centered around a campfire and was a big success. As soon as it was over, Josh and I started thinking of ways we could combine another Shakespeare play with the outdoor, western environment.”

It wasn’t long before Smith stumbled across an article comparing Puck, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to Coyote, the trickster of Native American lore.

“That's when the idea started to take hold,” explained Smith. “The idea was that Puck, Oberon and Titania were very really mystical figures that transcend cultures. So when the English were the victim of the mysterious pranks associated with a trickster, they called it Puck. The Vikings would call it Loki. And the Native Americans, and the new American settlers in the area, would see the trickster as Coyote.”

Each October SUU's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance stages a Shakespeare Play, and while these fall productions are generally directed by theatre faculty, Smith's concept and obvious enthusiasm earned Smith complete creative reign over the 2014 production.

“It's important early on for a student director, or any director for that matter, to claim their turf. When we have given our trust to a student director, I want them to begin with the freedom to try new things and make mistakes without their mentor over their shoulder,” explained Peter Sham, Smith's mentor and co-chair of SUU Theatre Arts and Dance. “My students like to call it the Gandalf approach. I always know when it's time to call in the giant eagles, but till then, I want them to risk and fail and learn.”

Looking ahead to the play's October 2 premiere, Smith said, “The show is great. It's funny and it has got heart — it is one you will not want to miss!”

SUU’s Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is set to perform Smith's fantastical western Shakespearean imaginings October 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10 in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. for all performances. Smith's production opens the 2014-15 Theatre Arts & Dance Season.

Ticket prices are: $10 Adult General Admission; $5 Youth and free for Faculty/Staff and SUU students with a valid ID. Faculty and staff are entitled to bring one guest. The CPVA Flex Pass offers six admissions to any theatre, dance or music event and can be used for a single entrance to a production or can be used to admit six people to one event. The pass can be used in any multiples for CPVA ticketed events. The cost of the Flex Pass is $40 per pass (a $65 value). For tickets or the Flex Pass, call the SUU Ticket Office at 586-7872, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., or purchase in person at the Centrum Arena box office. Single tickets may be purchased online at

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