Featuring the voice of BAFTA-nominated actor David Morrissey as Oberon and Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Nadine Shah in her theatre debut as Titania, an anarchic new production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream will be the first major home-grown production at the new £30m Shakespeare North Playhouse from Friday (September 23).
A collaboration between Shakespeare North Playhouse, Not Too Tame and Northern Stage, the creators promise a show that’s to be experienced rather than just watched.
Co-directed by Olivier-nominated Oldham-born writer and director Matthew Dunster – whose past work includes Hangmen and 2:22 A Ghost Story – and Jimmy Fairhurst, founder and artistic director of Not Too Tame, the show continues at SNP's Prescot, Merseyside base until October 22 before moving to Northern Stage in Newcastle (October 29-November 12).
Fairhurst says: "There will be everything you want from a good night out: live music and dancing, and Shakespeare too – but by the end of it, like most good nights out, you'll be exhilarated and ready for a drink, then on to the next place. It’ll also be a shared experience. People will end up communicating with each other, with people that they might not have otherwise met."
The cast came out of an open-call audition, about which Dunster says: "It was exhausting and exhilarating. There were over 2000 applicants and we saw over 200 across Newcastle and Warrington. We've ended up with an incredibly diverse company, both in terms of ethnicity, age, and how people identify in terms of gender. My thing about Shakespeare is that it should always open the door wider both in terms of the people who make it and who you invite through the door to see it.
"I've been a fan of Nadine’s since her first singles. Very kindly, she's let us have all her catalogue and we're remixing things with her. David Morrissey is my friend, and he's from Liverpool, so he wanted to get involved.
"There's been a lot of support, in the North-West in particular, for the notion of what this theatre could be for the region. With Titania and Oberon, we thought it would be wonderful if we had one from the North West and one from the North East, to stretch across the whole of the north of the country, representing the whole of that landscape through these wonderful, recognisable voices."
Shakespeare North Playhouse aims to offer a wide programme of performance, activities and conversations inspired by Shakespeare and relevant to today.
At its heart is a traditional 470-seat, timber-framed Shakespearean theatre, and there is also an exhibition gallery, studio and the Sir Ken Dodd Performance Garden. Inspired by Prescot’s historic connections to William Shakespeare, the playhouse hopes to play a major role in the continuing regeneration of the area, working with audiences, artists and local communities.
More info and tickets here