If you happen to pass by Pinkney Park this week, you may notice that the A Midsummer Night's Dream set is coming together. With a little over one week to go until the opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a crew lead by technical director Maya Robbins-Zust is working hard to set up the stage before the arrival of the actors and the beginning of the production. (The actors are rehearsing in New York City, and will only arrive at the park this Saturday to begin "tech week," or rehearsals on stage and in the park itself).
Today I have a chance to go with producer Colin Liander to see how the construction in the park is going. As we pull in, I see piles of heavy black carrying crates stacked up by the road, next to bright orange wires which snake through the grass. Crew members climb up lighting rigs to plug in lights and wheel around loudspeakers on little dollies. In the "ampitheatre" of the park itself, the little valley where thousands of people will sit to watch the show in the upcoming several weeks, the hum of drills fills the air as the skeletal wooden framework of the stage is slowly constructed and filled in, becoming a multicolored, tiled floor. Athens, and the magical forest that surrounds it, is coming together before my eyes.
The set for the play is the brainchild of designer Brian Prather. It starts as a scale model about the size of a Lego set- small but intricately designed, with every detail mapped out, essentially a smaller mirror image of the actual set. Having seen the scale model for this year's production, I'm struck by how identical the one being constructed in the park looks.
The set design is sent to Maya, who then constructs it with her crew at a location in the Berkshires. They then disassemble it, pack it into a truck, and drive it to Pinkney Park, where it's reassembled (you may see their white truck parked on the side of the road by the park!). This, of course, isn't completely without problems: the set build in the park was delayed when the truck got trapped in traffic (oops!). Still, the build in the park is going smoothly, on track to be finished for this Friday- just in time for the actors to arrive.
This year stage is surrounded by four lighting rigs, two tarp tents (one with the lighting/soundboard for cues and lighting during the play, one for actor costume changes and the like), and many smaller setpieces, For those of you who have been to productions before, you may notice that the stage is oriented in a different direction than in previous years, with the back facing the water instead of the fence; this will pose unique challenges in terms of seating due to the changes in elevation of the park's natural hills. (For those of you who have been to the park, high- and low-backed chairs are usually placed on the slope leading down to the stage, but will have a different view of the stage due to its new orientation).
As we leave the crew as they prepare for possible incoming rain (the sensitive lighting and sound equipment will have to all be covered with tarps and trash bags), Colin tells me that the set will be gone almost immediately after the production. Maya's crew will begin disassembling it on the night of the final production, working at almost 11 in the night to break everything down. Just like Hippolyta's observation that "Four days will quickly steep themselves in night./Four nights will quickly dream away the time" in the play, A Midsummer Night's Dream's 4-week stint in Pinkney Park will be over before we know it, and it'll best if we enjoy it while it lasts.
A Midsummer Night's Dream opens on Thursday, June 14th and will run through July 1st, with no performances on Mondays. Please see our "Visit" tab for information about ticket sales and activities to do in and around the park!