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Gina Gambony Visits The Sarus Festival

The Sarus Festival featuring site-specific and experimental art is underway!Dozens of local and visiting artists are creating public performances, often held outdoors. WHQR's Gina Gambony visited the rehearsal for one event: an unusual interpretation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," happening in the backyard of Jengo's Playhouse on Princess Street.

GG: So, what’s going on with this piece, Helena dancing?

TN: Helena is trapped, and in a way, every single character in this play is trapped. Everybody travels with their own personal hell, and trying to get out of it is…where you end up here.

GG: Looks like she’s sneaking out?

TN: Trying…washed away, sneak away from it, try to fling yourself into the walls that surround you. Helena tries everything to get out of her trap.

GG: That was Tara Noland, the technical assistant for this unusual adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” You may have noticed you can hear no lines being spoken in the scene we were talking about. Dialogue is sparse. The director, KarolaLuttringhaus, has replaced much of the dialogue with dramatic movement. Karola has focused this production on the women. One of the main themes is the struggle for authority and autonomy between men and women.

KL: These women characters are all fighting against the establishment of the patriarchy in their own ways. And Helena sheds all her dignity to become the perfect woman, quote unquote, the one that gives, that’s like a dog that follows, that will do anything for her husband as long as she’s allowed to be with him. There’s a weakness and a strength in that, nothing is just one way or another. There is always some duality in something… where I want to show that people are complex, not just one way or another. Egeus, the father of Hermia, who wants his daughter dead because she doesn’t follow his orders, but he has feelings. And he’s struggling with the decision to go before the Duke and ask for her death. He doesn’t know what else to do. His life in patriarchal society is threatened because his daughter doesn’t do what he wants. She is his possession.

GG: Aside from interpretive choices, Karola also made aesthetic choices regarding the location of the performance.

KL: You know, you hear cicadas, you hear crickets, you hear cars going by. So we have a sensory experience, we have the smell of earth, it smells a lot like earth. This is very important, as if we are in the forest. The forest is a metaphor for our subconscious, for things that we don’t allow ourselves to feel usually. The houses are metaphors for society, for civilization, for staying away from that. So the backyard is kind of an attempt to civilize some of the wild subconscious feelings. In the play, we are letting them come back up.

GG: This is Gina Gambony for WHQR.