A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Shakespeare Theatre

Washington D.C.

November 2012 - January 2013

Director: Ethan McSweeny

Playwright: William Shakespeare

Set Design: Lee Savage

Costume Design: Jen Moeller

Lighting Design: Tyler Micoleau

Sound Design: Fitz Patton

Movement: Peter Pucci

Stage Manager: Joe Smelser

With: Nancy Anderson, Maxwell Balay, John Bambery, Rob Beitzel, Christopher Bloch, Tim Campbell, Christiana Clark, Robert Dorfman, Bruce Dow, Jacqui Jarrold, David Graham Jones, Joe Mallon, Chris Myers, Amelia Pedlow, Max Reinhardsen, Lawrence Redmond, Rohan Saxena, Herschel Sparber, Gracie Terzian, Jessica Thorne, Sara Topham, Katherine Renee Turner, and Ted van Griethuysen

Really? Hooves? You high?

After being cast in A Midsummer Night’s Dream over the summer of 2012, the first thing I did was write an email to Ethan floating the idea of having hooves in the production. I then mentioned it to the costume shop. I was met with blank stares, both literal and virtual. 

For a long time, I had harbored this idea of Puck/Robin Goodfellow as being a sort of satyr. Woodcuts and folklore sometimes portray him as such (to the right).
The mythology of 
the character pre-
dates Shakespeare,
who really mashed
up the idea of a 
‘Puck’ (also, pooke,
from where we get
the word ‘pixie’)
and Robin Goodfellow. 

I didn’t get hooves, but to go along with a more exaggerated physicality, showing a touch of animal (panther, dog, sloth, monkey) in some of my movements on stage, I adopted a default stance not unlike the above picture. One foot slightly raised with a bent knee, as if I were resting on a hoof. 

Ultimately this was, uh, easier than actually having hooves; I never would’ve been able to live up to the physical playground that Lee and Ethan envisioned for the Midsummer stage.
Sad, Weird Stories from My Youth that Somehow Relate to This

In seventh grade English class, I read a Shakespeare play for the first time. Midsummer. One of the exercises we did was pair up in groups of four and perform a scene from the play. Three of my friends (including history professor Chris Nichols, still one of my best friends in the world) and I did the scene where Puck puts an ass’s head on Bottom. Nichols read Puck. Screw Nichols. I wanted to do that. What 12-year-old wouldn’t want to be the mischievous imp that plays pranks on some community theater actors? Since then, I wanted to play Puck on stage like nobody’s business. I hope my 12-year-old self would’ve enjoyed what I did with the part. And if not, well, I could probably beat him/me up anyway.

Photo by Scott Suchman

Courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

Photo by Scott Suchman

Courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company

The original design for Puck  that ended up on advertisements for the show (left) gave way, over the course of design conversations and rehearsal, to a dirtier, earthier Puck (right, in my dressing room). Not as clean, in clothing or thought.

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