William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a joint production of the Department of Fine Arts at Tennessee Wesleyan College and the Athens Community Theater, opens tonight in the Sue E. Trotter Theater at The Arts Center with a bit of a plot twist.
Shakespeare set his play long ago in Athens, Greece. This town-and-gown production also takes place long ago, but in Athens, Tenn. The story unfolds in 1822, the year of the Tennessee town's founding. The characters represent Athenians Shakespeare never imagined.
The female lovers, their families and their leader, Theseus, are the Cherokee who lived in the region. The male lovers wooing the women are mountain men who have come down from the hills. They have new neighbors, the Scotch-Irish settlers seeking new lands and a new life. Shakespeare's famous fairies are the native woodland spirits who filled the primeval forests before they were clear-cut, driving out the fairies much as the Cherokee would be driven out.
However, the story takes place before these tragedies, when Cherokee, white settlers and the forest spirits coexisted.
The play is directed by Dr. Eric Love, assistant professor of theater and speech. Musical direction is provided by Dr. Nathan Windt, assistant professor of music. The cast is a mixture of student and community actors. The music of Felix Mendelssohn is featured throughout the production.
Shows start at 7:30 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday through April 13, and there's a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 7.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students. They are available by phone at 423-745-8781, at www.athensartscouncil.org and at The Arts Center, 320 N. White St.