This week, justArts spoke with Gabe Walker ’19, who directed Hold Thy Peace’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

justArts: How did you decide that you wanted to direct “A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Gabe Walker: So, I was thinking about a lot of the Shakespeare that I’ve worked with in the past, and something that I’ve always really wanted to experiment with is how music can be used to help audiences understand and engage with Shakespeare’s work. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” feels so musical to me, with all the fairies dancing and running around, and the lovers running through the woods and getting into drama and all the chaos. I really wanted to explore that through a musical lens, so I started working with fellow student and composer BT Montrym (’19), who is absolutely fantastic, and they wrote a brilliant score for it, and that’s how it came to be!

JA: Did you do anything, besides adding the music, to abridge the play or make it any different?

GW: Yes, very different actually! It’s very much an adaptation inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I really wanted to focus it specifically around a lot of the relationships in the show, and I also wanted it to be viewed through the lens of fairies, and the fairy chorus, rather than just kind of presenting it. So, I turned four characters who are normally very small roles — Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Moth and Cobweb — into a Greek chorus that was kind of leading the show, which was a lot of fun! And I also did a lot of reinterpreting the character of Bottom. I ended up eliminating all of the other mechanical roles that I had, and [made it more about] the fairy chorus.

JA: What was your favorite part of directing?

GW: There’s a lover’s choral, halfway through the show, when the love potion has affected both the men and they’re falling in love with wrong person, and it’s very funny. We turned that into a lover’s quartet; so it was the four of them singing at each other and over each other, and it was hilarious. It was a lot of fun to work with!

JA: If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently?

GW: I mean, it was a very short rehearsal process, we only ended up having about three-and-a-half weeks of rehearsal. I think I would really like to play around with how you could bring the audience into the forest; I had them all sitting in the back and kind of just looking at everything, which I was really happy with. But I would want to really play around with how could I have the fairies moving people throughout the forest, really seeing all the little things, and seeing all the action that’s happening everywhere? How the audience engages with the show is definitely what I would want to take another look at. 

JA: Is there anything you hope the audience took away from watching the show?

GW: I just hope they had a good time! “Midsummer” is a great show, and there were some subtle things I was putting in that I was really interested to see whether people picked up on or not, but the most important thing for me was just that it was an enjoyable experience.

—Lizzie Grossman