“There has always been this perception that Shakespeare is long and boring,” says Jared Sakren, executive director of 6th Street Playhouse and the director of FairyWorlds!, the recently opened outdoor extravaganza at Santa Rosa’s Shakespeare in the Cannery Festival. Formerly producing artistic director of Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa, Arizona, Sakren says, “I decided to take it on and change people’s minds.”
That’s how FairyWorlds! was born. A 90-minute, elaborately visual, audience-interactive take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the dazzling show was originally staged outdoors at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix in 2014.
“The show was huge, produced on a very grand scale,” Sakren says. “It had ballet, fire-eating, amazing costumes, fairies with electric wings and all kinds of outrageous circus-type elements. It was not boring.”
Though stripped-down textually, the basic story of Midsummer is intact. After fleeing Athens to avoid the marital demands of their parents, four young lovers (Abbey Lee, Devin McConnell, Haley Rome and Benjamin Stowe) find themselves lost in the woods, and right in the middle of a battle between two powerful fairies, Oberon (Chris Schloemp) and Titania (Elizabeth Henry). Complicating matters is a band of Athenian craftsmen, led by the dim Bottom (Craig Miller), all taking to the woods to rehearse a very strange play.
“The story is all there, and then some,” Sakren says.
NOW PLAYING: FairyWorlds! runs through September 2 at the Shakespeare in the Cannery Festival, Historic Railroad Square, 135 4th St., Santa Rosa; 707/228-4704; shakespeareinthecannery.com.