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26 January 2012

Shakespeare in the Grove

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Ancient Athens comes to South Florida in a slapstick comedy with Elizabethan flair, as Shakespeare Miami performs “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Feb. 4.

The Winter Shakespeare Festival is the only Shakespeare in the Park event in the world to be held in January, artistic director Colleen Stovall said.

“My goal is to bring people together in the community to create theater and to volunteer to make it happen,” Stovall said. “That doesn’t mean just amateur theater – we have professional actors.”

These free events are sponsored entirely by community organizations, grants and voluntary donations from audience members.

In doing so, the company is carrying out its mission of promoting literacy and appreciation of the arts through free performances of Shakespeare’s work.

Stovall sought to bright out the comedy in the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“The actors kind of just owned the magic in the show,” she said

Bree-Ana Obst, the actress who plays the “shrewd and knavish sprite” Puck, says their performance is lively and full of physical humor.

“In ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ there’s not one character that stands out,” Obst said. “Everybody’s working together and it’s very strong and energetic.”

Though Obst thought the role of Puck, the fairy jester, would come easier to her than previous characters she has played, she looked hard into how to go beyond the obvious.

“Now that I have the character, every night of the show I’m still finding something new about Puck to try out and play,” she said.

Shakespeare Miami performed at the Pinecrest Gardens Amphitheater last weekend, turning away 100 people on Saturday because of the packed crowd, Obst said.

This weekend the company will be at Shell Lumber, an actual lumber yard, in Coconut Grove, performing at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The venue seats 400 to 500 people and provides a more traditional experience, comparable to how Shakespeare was performed back in the day.

“You’re surrounded by wood and you see the audience in front of you,” Obst said. “That’s what’s exciting about performing at Shell Lumber, because you’re the performer on the stage and that’s about all you’ve got to work with.”

The Coconut Grove Grapevine said that food trucks and a full bar will be on site, too. Bring a blanket to the show or rent a chair when you’re there, and enjoy the show.