“April ... hath put a spirit of youth in everything,” Shakespeare wrote in Sonnet 98. He might as well have been writing about this year’s Shakespeare in Yosemite production.
With Friday’s premiere — attended by high school students from Mariposa and several children of park employees and El Portal residents and performed by a troupe of players ranging from those experienced and trained in Shakespeare to brand-new actors — the 420-year-old “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” seemed new again.
This is the second year Shakespeare in Yosemite has showcased UC Merced’s special relationship with the park and highlighted Earth Day and Shakespeare’s birthday with plays adapted for Yosemite and directed by UC Merced Professor Katherine Steele Brokaw and Professor Paul Prescott from the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K., both Shakespeare scholars.
Shakespeare purists might object to the language that differed from The Bard’s, but they would protest too much — the incorporation of Merced, Yosemite, Firefall, lacewing, wilderness ranger and other familiar regional terms helped make this production special to Yosemite.
Besides including local references, Brokaw and Prescott emphasized a conservationist theme, making parts of costumes out of park refuse, and having Puck show disdain for single-use water bottles throughout the play.