April 22, 2010

‘Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be!’  Shakespeare comes to Ocracoke


If you’ve been in the neighborhood of Books to Be Red on Ocracoke Island lately, you may have seen some local folks cavorting about on the Live Oak stage, exclaiming in iambic pentameter such lines as “The course of true love never did run smooth” or “What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?”

These foolish mortals have been rehearsing the Ocracoke production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” directed by Ocracoke high school English teacher Charles Temple.

The play will be performed May 6-9.

Although Temple has taken on the role of director – and also has a role in the play -- he admits that none of this would be happening if it weren’t for the persistence of his student assistant, sophomore Molly Lovejoy. She was inspired by a field trip last fall when Temple took students to see a North Carolina Shakespeare Festival production of “Midsummer” in High Point, N.C.

“Theater used to be a big part of Ocracoke, and I wanted to bring that back,” said Lovejoy. “When we all went to see ‘Midsummer,’ everyone showed real enthusiasm for the play. We started planning our Ocracoke version on the bus on the way home. Basically, I nagged Charles until he began considering the idea.”

Lovejoy’s freshman English class had read “Midsummer” and as an assignment, Temple had asked them to describe how the students would stage it on Ocracoke. Lovejoy picked Live Oak stage, which was originally built for the annual Ocrafolk Festival.

“I just wanted to see it under the trees, in the natural light,” Lovejoy said. She and Temple assigned the set design to freshman Emmet Temple and Ocracoke School’s shop teacher Roger Meacham. The third period furniture and cabinet making class have been helping Temple and Meacham with set building this semester.

“It’s a simple set design,” Lovejoy said. “Because most of what we need is already there – the outdoor stage, the woods, the light.” 

(Emmet Temple would like to add, “That’s easy for her to say.”)

Lovejoy spent much of the winter watching other “Midsummer” productions – professional and amateur – online to learn from their different interpretations.

“I saw things that I wanted to have in our play and learned a lot about set design and costuming ideas. I also looked at cast interactions and how the whole production was put together,” she said.

Jennifer Kidwell, aka the fairy Mustardseed, has volunteered to do the costumes, and has settled upon a “steampunk” look that Lovejoy really likes. (“Steampunk” refers to a style that developed from science fiction/fantasy stories combining Victorian style and settings with steam-powered mechanical modern technology.)

“Jen’s time in New York this winter was really useful for our play,” said Lovejoy. “She came back with little top hats, and bowlers, and fabric for the costumes.”

Kidwell has her work cut out for her as there are 24 characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” including fairies and mere mortals.

“One of reasons I wanted to do ‘Midsummer’ is because of the big cast,” said Lovejoy. “There are the lovers, the fairies, the royals and the mechanicals – lots of different stories going on. I love how all the scenes and stories tie together in the end.”

Lovejoy is also happy that so many different people are involved.

“We have people of all ages in the cast,” she said. “It’s not just a high school play. It’s brought different aspects of the community together.”

The cast is comprised of Ocracoke School students Andrew Tillett, Walker Garrish, Kevin Perez, Annie Buchanan, Wyatt Norris, Joe Chestnut, Emmet Temple, Virginia Downes, D.J. Lukefahr, Deana Seitz, Dalton Kalna, Echo Bennink, and Carlos De Lao, and community members Bill Jones, Bill Cole, Kati Wharton, Jessie Morrissey, Zoi Tsousis, Caroline Temple, Jennifer Kidwell, Phyllis Wall, Lori Masaitis, and Charles Temple.

Ocracoke’s “Midsummer” will begin outside of Deepwater Theater, which will represent Athens, or civilization, where the royals are planning a wedding, and the course of true love is running not so smoothly for the four lovers. From there the play (and audience) will move to the Live Oak stage, which represents the rustic forest home of the fairies, who meddle in mortal affairs. The play will end up back at Deepwater, where the audience will see the play within a play put on by the mechanicals (actors) and enjoy the happy ending for all. This is one of Shakespeare’s comedies, of course.

The production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”is funded in part by a Grassroots Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts. Administrative support for grant funding comes from the Beaufort County Arts Council. The Ocracoke Business and Civic Association also provided funding.


Performances are scheduled for May 6 and 7 at 5 p.m. and May 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children.  They will be available at the school office on April 26 or call Charles Temple at 928-0462.

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