In Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Oberon, King of the Fairies, invites his Queen, Tatiana: “Come, my queen, take hands with me/And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be,” — the sleepers being four human lovers whose affairs become magically complicated when fairies intervene.
On July 28, NapaShakes invites its audience to “Rock the Ground” in St. Helena when it presents the world-premiere cinema screening of Emma Rice’s production of the London Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The screening will be followed by a Bollywood disco celebration to benefit NapaShakes. Tickets are $65, and are available through the NapaShakes website.
The screening starts at 5 p.m. at The Cameo Cinema. It will be followed by a Bollywood Disco Celebration at the Caldwell-Snyder Gallery, a few doors down from the Cameo. Braden Bjornson is producing the party, which will include dinner, drinks, disco, world music, live performance and a tableau along the “Midsummer Night” theme. A Middle Eastern food truck will be paired with wines from the JCB Collection from Jean Charles Boisset.
Capacity is limited, and the event is one-night only; guests are encouraged to wear their Bollywood or disco finest.
Former Globe Artistic Director Emma Rice’s Bollywood-inspired production, a mash-up of theater, comedy and music, sold out every performance at London’s Globe Theatre. It also shocked Shakespeare traditionalists. Rice, herself a controversial pick for the position, had limited experience with Shakespeare, and she was clear about her intention to depart from the tradition of treating his text as sacred.
In addition to Indian influences, her “Midsummer” includes a touch of David Bowie, George Formby, original songs, and an uninhibited performance by the international cabaret star Meow Meow as Tatiana. Rice also replaced the female character Helena with a male character, Helenus.
Critics’ reviews range from positive to ecstatic. Rice was lauded for bringing new audiences into the venerable theater with her hilarious, approachable production. But many theater traditionalists questioned her introduction of amplified sound — including an electric sitar, rock, pop and world music — and artificial lighting, including a giant “Rock the Ground” neon sign plus a disco ball – into the Globe’s “original practices” venue, which had relied on ambient light and natural sound, as in Shakespeare’s time.
Rice even poked fun at the “original practices” approach with pre-show hijinks by the Rude Mechanicals, dressed up as Globe Theatre staffers. Despite its success, tradition won out and Rice resigned after one eventful season.
The BBC filmed her “Midsummer” live on stage and screened it online as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations. This will be the first time the production will be shown in a cinema.
The screening and celebration mark the latest chapter in the partnership between the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre of London, and NapaShakes, a Napa Valley-based nonprofit, which has presented the Globe Theatre live on stage in performance twice, as well as multiple sold-out seasons of Globe on Screen at the Cameo Cinema. Proceeds from the evening will benefit NapaShakes arts and education programs and the return of a new season of Globe on Screen presented by NapaShakes at the Cameo. The Globe is expected to return live to NapaShakes in 2019.
“NapaShakes is thrilled to be partnering with the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre again, after several successful seasons of presenting their productions both live on stage and on screen,” said Laura Rafaty, founder and director of NapaShakes.
“The departure of the Globe artistic director caused an interruption in their live touring schedule, and also caused delay in development of our ‘Jig is Up’ project, which we are creating with the Globe music director and choreographer,” Rafaty said. “That project, along with a companion children’s education project, is now likely to be combined with live performances by the Globe company to be presented here by NapaShakes in 2019. The new Globe artistic director, Michelle Terry, brings an actor’s sensibility to her role, and has an exciting interactive new plan for the tour — which we bring to Napa Valley.”
Tickets for “Rock the Ground” are available on Eventbrite via NapaShakes’ website napashakes.org/tickets. The evening is most appropriate for age 21 and older. A video preview of the Globe production is available at youtube/8werWRT9x9U.
The Cameo Cinema is at 1340 Main St., St. Helena. The Caldwell-Snyder Gallery is at 1328 Main St.
More information and tickets are at www.napashakes.org/tickets