By Julie Rattey | Photo by Christopher McKenzie
Forget the fairy wings. In the Classic Repertory Company (CRC) production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, costumes, lighting, and sets are nearly nonexistent. The jean-clad cast of eight (mostly CFA alums) remains onstage at all times, transitioning between roles and scenes to the beat of a drum. Midsummer is rife with transformation (of scorn to love, friend to foe, and, memorably, an average Joe into the donkey-headed paramour of a fairy queen) and the CRC’s minimalist aesthetic underscores this theme, inspiring actors and audience to refashion space through imagination.
“You come back to the basics—who are these people and what are they doing?” says Celia Pain (’13), who plays the mischievous sprite Puck and is education and advocacy coordinator for CRC, the flagship educational outreach program of the New Repertory Theatre (New Rep) in Watertown, Massachusetts. Pain and her fellow actors bring stage adaptations of classical and modern literature to New England-area schools and communities, including those underserved in the arts.
“Not only does our accessible approach to the material hopefully give them new insight into or love for these texts, but I think it’s really good for these kids to see that we went to school for something we are passionate about, that school can be fun,” she says.
CRC, which is in its first year of partnership with Boston University, is a bridge program that aims to help recent graduates make the leap into professional theater. “It builds their confidence, it builds their stamina, it builds their résumé,” says Jim Petosa, New Rep’s artistic director and the director of the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, “and it gives them that important thing that an actor always needs: an audience to engage.”