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Lysander loves Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander. Demetrius loves Hermia. Helena loves Demetrius. No one loves Helena (poor Helena). This byzantine love quadrangle turns even more ludicrous when, lost in the woods on a midsummer's eve, the love-struck quartet finds themselves at the mercy of a band of mischievous fairies armed with a potent love potion.

Written in 1595 or 1596, A Midsummer Night's Dream is Shakespeare's most popular comedy, despite the critic Samuel Pepys writing in 1662 that it was "the most insipid, ridiculous play [he] ever saw." Contemporary critics have argued that Shakespeare put some of his most sophisticated poetry in service of this story of love and mischief. Director Scott Kaiser, a Shakespeare expert and 27-year veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival calls it "the greatest comedy ever written by the greatest playwright who ever lived," adding, "if you love to laugh you'd be crazy to miss it."

It is likely, though not conclusively proven, that the play was written as an entertainment for an aristocratic wedding, with some scholars positing that the play-within-the-play, performed for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, is a meta-commentary on Shakespeare's own labor.

The play has appeared frequently in literature, art, and popular culture, and has been adapted for film over twenty times. Neil Gaiman's comic series The Sandman uses the play in the 1990 issue A Midsummer Night's Dream. A Midsummer Night's Dream was George Balanchine's first original full-length ballet. The play features prominently in the 1989 American film Dead Poet's Society, and in 1964 The Beatles performed the play-within-a-play from Act 5, Scene 1, Pyramus and Thisbe, for the British television special Around The Beatles, with McCartney playing Pyramus and Lennon playing Thisbe.

Guest director Scott Kaiser (pictured, right) worked on over 100 productions as voice and text director, co-director, adapter, assistant director, and actor over 27 seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Kaiser joined the School of Drama last year as a guest faculty member, teaching Shakespeare's wordcraft to actors in the Professional Actor Training Program (MFA, Acting), a program of which he is an alumnus. "As someone who graduated from the PATP with an MFA in acting in 1985," says Kaiser, "I'm tremendously grateful to be returning to the UW as a director 34 years later." Kaiser is the author of the books Shakespeare's Wordcraft (2007), Mastering Shakespeare: An Acting Class in Seven Scenes (2003), Shakespeare's Other Women: A New Anthology of Monologues (2017), and The Tao of Shakespeare: A Book of Meditations (2014), among numerous others.

The cast is comprised of second- and third-year members of the Professional Actor Training Program (MFA, Acting) as well as undergraduate Drama majors. The designers are all members of the MFA Design program.

Tickets can be purchased at drama.uw.edu or through the ArtsUW Ticket Office: 206-543-4880, ticket@uw.edu.

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