Titania and Bottom
A scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream
Tokyo Public Performance
In English with Japanese subtitles
May 15, 2019 (Wed) Start: 18:00 Doors open: 17:30 (no reserved seats)
Performance: 2 hours 30 minutes
Akasaka Community Center 3F in Akasaka Civic Center
4-18-13 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
※Tickets available from Feb 2019 at Ticket PIA, e+, Confetti and ITCL office
Kissport price ¥3,000
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Athenian citizens Lysander and Hermia love each other, but since Hermia’s mother vigorously opposed their marriage, they decided to run off together into the “woods” near Athens.
The moonlit night “woods” is a kingdom governed by the fairy king and queen who are in the middle of a quarrel. Helena, who cannot give up Dimitrius, romantic rival of Lysander, also comes into this fairy “woods”. An elf Puck, under the order from the king Oberon, put on the eyelids of the sleeping queen and of the four lovers “magical flower juice” which make them fall in love with the one first seen after they wake up. Also came to the woods the mechanicals to practice their amateur performance which they were going to give in front of the king on the day of his wedding and the head of Bottom the weaver was transformed into that of a donkey. The awakened queen saw this monstrous Bottom and certainly fell in love with him! But arch and careless Puck put magical juice in a wrong way on the Athenian lovers and the wrong ones fell on love with each other. In an absolute confusion, they wander through the wood and exhausted, fall asleep. Finally when they woke up…
International Theatre Company London
International Theater Company London (hereinafter called ITCL), based in London and giving its tour performances all over the world, enthralls worldwide audience with its original interpretations. Its 46th Japan tour will be organized in May 2019.
This time, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of the most popular and well-known Shakespeare’s plays, will be performed in original language. Paul Stebbings, who was awarded an MBE medal by British Royal Family for his longtime contribution to promote overseas British literary works, writes the play and directs the performance.
Plays are rarely performed in original language (English) in Japan. This will offer a precious opportunity to appreciate a high-class foreign theater. We would like you to fully experience the rhythm and flavor of Shakespeare’s language.
Press: The TIMES of Malta
Maeve Leahy (left) as Hermia and Noa Bodner as Titania, the fairy queen.
Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 by
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
San Anton Gardens
It is perhaps forgivable that one of Shakespeare’s better known and universally enjoyed plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, is produced rather too often.
TNT always put on an excellent show, proving that good theatre can keep Shakespeare relevant and entertaining even in the contemporary digital world
However, its playful language ensures that it never fails to amuse and when well-produced, the audience can enjoy a new take on the way the script can be interpreted through a director’s artistic vision.
I have seen several different productions and not once have they come across as repetitive.
It can certainly be said that Theatre Britain’s production in the courtyard of the President’s Palace at San Anton Gardens did not fail to please and entertain.
Paul Stebbings has once again done a sterling job with his clever direction while Eric Tresser Lavigne’s choreography created excellent visual impact on the stage, especially when set to Paul Flush’s music – with live accompaniment by the cast themselves.
While I was not entirely certain about the playing up of the back-story where Hypployta, Queen of the Amazons, is captured and conquered by the Greeks and forced into becoming Thesus’s consort, the interpretation allowed Noa Bodner to give her Hypployta a much feistier attitude than the more usual submissive role other productions tend to give her.
For the first time, I actually saw her role as a concrete character rather than a shadowy filler.
Bodner did a very highly commendable job both as Hypployta and as Titania, the fairy queen.
This second character mirrored the strength of will which she had already established as the Amazon Queen.
While it is an oft-used device to have the characters playing Hypployta and Thesus to double for Titania and Oberon respectively, one of the recurring showcases of technical excellence which this theatre company exposes is the impeccable art of doubling.
Eric Tresser Lavigne’s cunning Oberon may have outshone his Thesus but was equally matched by his bumbling Peter Quince.
The Mechanicals in the play-within-a-play were terrifically funny and their over-the-top acting so well hammed that it was clearly the mark of a highly talented cast who knew exactly what they were doing.
What was particularly interesting was the fact that the actors playing the four young lovers also played others parts.
Dominic Brewer managed to lift Lysander out of the usual interpretation as a handsome but rather sappy lover and made him a much more artful and, certainly, more comedic figure.
He made a great counterpart to the diminutive Hermia, played by Maeve Leahy, who made the role her own by giving it the right amount of naivety when it required it, without losing her fighting spirit when she needed to defend herself.
Brewer’s Puck was particularly hard to coordinate because of the countless quick changes and instant character transitions which he had, including some excellent masks and body swaps which were done so slickly that the changes were almost imperceptible. It was a laudable performance which was also highly entertaining.
Leahy’s Francis Flute, the bellows-mender, was bumbling and earnest and earned quite a few laughs, while Brewer’s Snuck the joiner had a dead-pan expression and slow demeanour which made for some very humorous scenes that depended on the actors’ sense of timing.
The performances I enjoyed the most were the roles played by James Burton, who portrayed Demetrius and Bottom, as well as Rebecca Naylor’s Helena.
Burton managed to turn the slightly annoying Demetrius into a very likeable character, while his interpretation of the over-confident Bottom made for an irreverently loveable fool.
The manner in which he transitioned from the geeky Demetrius to the loud Bottom was great to watch and his interaction with Naylor’s Helena was great.
The latter worked very well with the rest of the cast to create a strong dynamic and she portrayed an essentially good but highly neurotic young woman perfectly.
The effrontery she believes she faces makes her indignant enough to start the perfect argument in the lovers’ quarrel scene, which was perfectly choreographed and a joy to watch.
Coming as it did, at the very end of the summer season, following the August lull, A Midsummer Night’s Dream served as the perfect introduction to the autumn/winter theatre schedule.
TNT always put on an excellent show, proving that good theatre can keep Shakespeare relevant and entertaining even in the contemporary digital world – weaving a web of magic and joy which elevates its audiences from the mundane.
TNT theatre Britain and ITCL present William Shakespeare’s greatest comedy:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Directed and edited by Paul Stebbings. Original music composed by Paul Flush.
This Shakespeare’s most famous and popular comedy. The story follows the fortunes of a quartet of lovers who are lured into the forest by fairies who trick them with a magic potion that forces them to fall in love with the first person they see. The Queen of Fairies herself takes the potion and when a donkey crosses her path she falls in love with the beast. This hilarious comedy explores the madness of love and laughs at human folly. It contains some of the finest poetry that Shakespeare wrote, hilarious comedy, touching love scenes, mystery and theatrical magic. This production has been an extraordinary international success – Shakespeare that is easy to understand and enjoy, even for an audience whose first language is not English – Shakespeare’s magical play is both simple and profound so almost any audience can grasp the ideas and conflicts in the play. Specially composed music is woven into the production for added effect, much played or sung live by the skilled actors.
The production is directed by Paul Stebbings and presented by TNT theatre Britain. Their cycle of Shakespearian classics include HAMLET, MACBETH, KING LEAR, ROMEO & JULIET and the TAMING OF THE SHREW – productions that have received popular and critical acclaim in over forty countries worldwide performing in cities and castles from Berlin to Atlanta, Tokyo to Paris and Windsor Castle to Prague Castle. This is Shakespeare as might have graced the original Globe: funny, direct, visual, musical and appealing to almost every audience.
The company are the most popular foreign theatre to tour in Japan during the last twenty five years. Director Paul Stebbings was awarded an MBE medal by HM Queen Elizabeth for his contribution to British culture (2014).
“I never knew Shakespeare could be so entertaining”. CNN TV
“If young people need to be persuaded to go to the theatre TNT are the company to see”. SUDKURIER Germany
“The cast had the audience in stitches of laughter with their wonderful comic timing….this production’s twin achievement is to make Shakespeare’s comedy both hilarious and clear STRAITS TIMES Singapore
“TNT are one of the most interesting developments on the current theatrical scene”. THE GUARDIAN, London
“Highly effective and charismatic theatre. ” VILLAGE VOICE New York
“TNT are known as the most popular touring theatre in the world” China National TV
“The company prove that even an audience whose first language is not English can enjoy a production of Shakespeare” JAPAN TIMES
International Press and Reviews
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
"The ensemble proves impressively that this play can be more than just a comedy. With original costumes, song and dance, a constant sprinkling of comical interludes, the carefully chosen use of music and a simple backdrop, fitting for an open-air stage, the troupe and director Paul Stebbings offered the audience in the Meierhof the choicest of original language Shakespeares."
"It's a long time since anyone has died as entertainingly as this Pyramus….This is Shakespeare: truly popular, highly entertaining and still profound. The magic of Shakepeare's excellently articulated language, glittering costumes and masterly musical interludes completed the spectacle."
"But the main attraction is the screamingly funny troupe of Athenian mechanicals, rehearsing a play for the Royal wedding and finally performing it as a fabulous parody of Romeo and Juliet. Their star, Bottom the weaver, with his noisy conceit and literally knockdown death scene, alone is worth the price of admission.
At long last, after much open fun, concealed seriousness, fierce emotions and sparkling magic stand a triple wedding, a reconciled elfin royal couple and so the message: Reason and fantasy, like women and men, are reconcilable.
Thanks to the intelligent direction and the faultless acting ensemble, a strict understanding of the original version becomes a minor issue. Great applause from the audience for a great performance."
"British director Paul Stebbings, in his original as well as wonderfully clear production, successfully explores the serious motifs of this great comedy. In the fairy world as well as the mortal world the characters never appear ridiculous, in spite of the play's ironies. Ridiculous are only those who are meant to be: The players' troupe of the play within the play. This troupe is rehearsing "Pyramus and Thisbe" for Theseus' and Hippolyta's wedding.
The highly professional actors manage to jump from the surreal mortal world into the magical fairy kingdom and back into the parts of the simple actors at court. TNT’s "Midsummer Night's Dream" is intelligently realized. Love remains mysterious, irrational and, unfortunately, random."
West Deutsches Allgemeine Zeitung
"In the end, it takes a skilled troupe to bring alive the nuances and
richness of Shakespeare, and TNT delivers the witty lines with polished
poise in classic style …The packed audience was enthralled. The production of MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM swept away the audience – young and old alike."
ETNI Ranaana Israel
Other reviews about TNT’s Shakespeare work:
"I never knew Shakespeare could be so entertaining!" - CNN TV
"World class theatre" - The Observer UK
"Touring theatre at its best"- South China Morning Post
"Highly effective and charismatic theatre" - Village Voice New York
"TNT are known as the best touring theatre company in the world." - China National TV.