Just under twelve months ago, we found out that our annual production, The Lion King, could not go ahead with an audience. The atmosphere in the library after the children found out was incredibly sad. When we were all coming to terms with the implications of a global pandemic, the job of trying to explain the reasons to the children was almost impossible. It was fairly apparent from the start of this academic year that our normal Easter production in the Crabbie would not be possible. However, I was desperate to give the Ardvreck school community something to look forward to, and the idea of an al fresco performance on the Headmistress’ lawn held great appeal. The natural amphitheatre would be ideal for an audience to relax with a lovely picnic, bringing a touch of Glyndebourne to Perthshire! With our beautiful woodland surroundings, the thought of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream seemed the ideal choice. Having enjoyed S4K’s Macbeth in 2018, a return to Stratford Upon Avon’s finest’s canon seemed like a great idea. Of course, current restrictions still present problems: Will we be allowed an audience? How big will that audience be? How will we rehearse? What about Scotland’s weather in June? Maybe a cagoule will be equally as important as the contents of the picnic hamper! We are incredibly lucky as a school to have the filming expertise of Zazie Mackintosh; If we cannot have an audience, then we will share our production as a movie, and if the Christmas Nativity is anything to go by, I’m sure nobody will feel short changed!
So what of the piece? For a school show A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an ideal choice; there is a good number of evenly sized roles which gives many children an opportunity to shine. There are three distinct groups; the Athenians, the Fairies and the Mechanicals. With a mixture of magical mystery, comedy and romantic confusion, it certainly has a little of something for everyone. My introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream was via Benjamin Britten’s wonderful 1960 operatic version. Having sung three of the mechanical roles (Nick Bottom, Snug the joiner and Peter Quince), I am very much aware of the hilarity these working men of Athens bring to the proceedings. It seems like only yesterday I was stepping out as Peter Quince at Poole’s Lighthouse in James Conway’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream production for English Touring Opera. Alas, it wasn’t quite yesterday, as our Director of Studies can confirm that he was, infact, an audience member, who happened to be studying the piece for his A level music. That makes me feel old!