Keith Agius has a problem with the current state of the Sydney theatre scene. While box offices seem to be ringing strongly across town, Agius says he is troubled about the lack of involvement from either side of the performing stage.
Agius, the director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream currently playing in the Belvedere Amphitheatre in Centennial Park, says he hopes his production offers something many other shows in Sydney don’t -“ interaction between actors and the audience.
I feel there is a lot of disconnection with theatre, especially with some of the more elite theatre companies, Agius says. It has become very much a case of -˜us’ and -˜them’.
I don’t like that as I like to engage an audience. Working in the outdoors, you are forced to involve your cast and, if you don’t grab their attention, you lose them completely.
This production is very interactive and I direct the show in and around the audience, so the people watching feel like they are a part of the piece. Their personalities influence where we take it as well.
Prior to each performance, children from the audience are invited to audition to play a role of a fairy in the show.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s 400-year-old play about the whimsies of love and lovers, remains one of the most popular and widely performed across the world.
This production in the park, which also stars Emily Ayoub, Lucy Miller (pictured) and James Lugton, features music performed by members of the Sydney Chamber Orchestra.
NIDA graduate Agius has directed previous outdoor productions of Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing at Coogee. He believes Shakespearean plays continue to be popular around the world, four centuries after being written, because of the universal themes of the writing.
They are all so timeless and there is something magic about these stories, which in the case of Midsummer Night is greatly helped with a setting as beautiful as Centennial Park.
Midsummer Night plays with the extremes of love in all its many qualities, and everyone of any sexuality can connect with that. People love theatre which takes their imagination to places they didn’t think they would go to -“ and these plays do that.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream completes its season on Sunday, and on the same day the troupe begins rehearsals for A Comedy Of Errors, which opens in February at Coogee.
That will be in time for Mardi Gras, so that play will be perfect for people in need of a good laugh at that time, he says.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays nightly at the Belvedere Amphitheatre (home of Moonlight Cinema) in Centennial Park until Sunday 19 November. Bookings on 9664 4234.