Directed by Royal Shakespeare Company Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation will feature 18 professional actors, who will be joined in each area by one of 14 different local amateur theatre companies who will play the six Mechanicals. Ayesha Dharker will take on the celebrated role of Titania, Queen of the Fairies, performing with the local schoolchildren and opposite the 14 amateur Bottoms cast from across the country.
When A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation arrives at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford the RSC will be joined by Leeds Arts Centre in the role of the Mechanicals and local school children from Samuel Lister Academy have been chosen to form part of Titania’s fairy train.
Ayesha Dharker is joined by Jamie Cameron (Fairy); Lila Clements (Fairy); Lucy Ellinson (Puck); Aimee Gray (Fairy); Peter Hamilton Dyer (Egeus); Laura Harding (Hippolyta); Jack Holden (Lysander); Chris Nayak (Demetrius); Mercy Ojelade (Hermia); Chu Omambala (Oberon); Sam Redford (Theseus); Laura Riseborough (Helena); Isaac Ssebandeke (First Fairy); Alex Tomkins (Fairy) and Jon Trenchard (Philostrate). With further casting to be announced.
The children taking part from Samuel Lister Academy are: Aaminah, Abdul, Adam B, Adam R, Ajay, Alhayna, Ali, Bradley, Dehleez, Fabian, Fatima D, Fatima Z, Fiza, Fizzah, Hamza, Haasan, Louis, Maisha, Mehroz, Muhammed, Nida, Paige, Rahees, Ridah, Saima, Sana, Sean, Shuaib, Sumiyaah, Zain A, Zainz.
Prior to the performances, members of the RSC Education and creative teams will visit Samuel Lister Academy to rehearse with the children. During the rehearsals the children will create their own very special fairy worlds, learn a fairy song and a specially devised dance routine, and explore the lines of text that they will perform in the show.
Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said: "2016 is a very special year as we celebrate the legacy of a man whose work, 400 years on, is still studied and performed the world over. There are so many ways that schools can join in our celebrations throughout 2016 - big and small - but we are thrilled that for the first time schoolchildren from all over the UK will get the chance to appear alongside RSC actors as part of our 2016 touring production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.This anniversary year is about celebrating the legacy of our national poet, and the best way to do that is by opening Shakespeare up to everyone. Our Dream tour and the other initiatives we're announcing in 2016 will help us to do just that by giving as many children and young people as possible the best introduction to Shakespeare's work regardless of their background, where they live in the country, or what school they go to."
Some of Shakespeare’s best loved characters, the ‘Mechanicals’ (including the iconic role of Bottom the Weaver) are an under-prepared, yet loveable bunch of craftsmen and women who put themselves forward to entertain royalty at the end of the play. In Bradford the roles will be played by members of Leeds Arts Centre: Tazmin Bennison (Quince); Rachel Brewin (Starveling); Ed Corbet (Snug); Fiona Galloway (Snout); Barry Green (Bottom); Ben Hopwood (Flute); Ken Taylor (Amateur group Director).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur theatre companies across the UK. This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is supported by Arts Council England Cross-Border Touring Fund