Shakespeare Alive, a spiritual successor to the Virginia Shakespeare Festival’s Williamsburg efforts, debuts Sunday with an abridged take on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” during the 2nd Sundays Art and Music Festival. The troupe will perform 30-minute shows twice during the monthly festival through October.
Dorothy Raskin, a former Virginia Shakespeare Guild member, felt a void after the VSF ended its annual Williamsburg programming in 2016 due to falling attendance. She took inspiration from the Los Angeles-based Shakespeare in the Park initiative in her pursuit of bringing Shakespeare’s repertoire back to Williamsburg.
“I think it’s as relevant today as it was back then,” Raskin said. “It just speaks to humanity.”
The free, bite-sized productions are meant to be more accessible in hopes of drawing more families and capitalizing on the festival’s diverse crowd. The inaugural “Midsummer Night’s Dream” production focuses on the work’s play within the play.
“That seemed to be a good place to start,” Raskin said. “I think they’re staying true to the text but being creative in their own way.”
Director Julie King said the play exemplifies Shakespeare’s universal themes and memorable sense of humor.
“It’s relevant. It’s hilarious,” she said. “I’m very excited.”
Raskin has big plans for the future of Shakespeare Alive. She said she hopes to collaborate in the future with individuals like Mitchell Reiss, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s president and CEO, and the College of William and Mary’s new president, Katherine Rowe. Raskin is also pursuing nonprofit status for the organization.
With Shakespeare Alive, Raskin said Sunday’s performances are only the beginning of a grander journey.
“We are evolving,” she said.
Want to go?
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performances run 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday in front of the Flower Cupboard, 205 N. Boundary St. Free. Repeats at the same times and location during 2nd Sundays through October.
For more info on 2nd Sundays, visit 2ndsundayswilliamsburg.com.
Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.