Last Friday afternoon we biked to Central Park to see the Shakespeare in the Ruins production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a beautiful day just perfect for an outdoor performance.
The actors used the Waddell Fountain as their stage. It was built in 1914 in memory of Emily Margaret Waddell by her husband Thomas. She had a stipulation in her will that if her husband wanted to keep her estate worth $56,000 than if he decided to marry again he would have to build a public fountain in Central Park in her memory using $10,000 of her estate. At the time that kind of money could have built you a beautiful home in Winnipeg.
The Waddell Fountain was patterned after one built in memory of Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh.
Central Park was a good location to choose to stage the play since the area around the park is Winnipeg’s most densely populated neighborhood and is home to 70% of the refugees who move to the city.
The actors had their work cut out for them trying to project their voices above fire trucks, police sirens and a soccer game in full swing just beside them.
Then this little girl in pink strolled up on the stage and placing her hands on her hips made it clear she wasn’t going anywhere. The talented actors had to incorporate her into the script and work around her, which they did with gracious humour.
These kids were playing soccer but became so intrigued by what was happening onstage they left their game to take a look. Several kids were called up from the audience to take on certain roles. This young man played The Wall and did a great job.
Although they presented a shortened version of the play it still took about 85 minutes or so to sort out the mixed up lovers and get everything in place for the happy ending.
I’ve seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream many times but never on a midsummer afternoon in the middle of Winnipeg. It was a unique and enjoyable experience.
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