DHS drama club prepares for season opener

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What do you get when you take a classic Shakespearean tale and set it in the Harlem Renaissance? &8212; the season opener for the Demopolis High School drama club, William Shakespeare&8217;s &8220;A Midsummer Night&8217;s Dream.&8221;

The production, which is the tale of four young lovers and a group of amateur actors who get caught up in a forest full of fairies, is being put on in part due to a $23,000 Alabama Black Belt Arts Initiative grant.

According to director and DHS theater teacher Jody White, this is the second year the grant has been awarded to the program. Last year, the funds went toward the high school&8217;s production of &8220;School House Rock.&8221;

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This year, she enlisted the help of visiting artist, Stephen Williams from Shelton State Community College.

When asked about how she decided to rework the play and set it in the Harlem Renaissance, White said it was a collaborative effort with English teacher Leslie Gibbs.

All the classes study the Harlem Renaissance in literature, so the two decided it would be an interesting treatment for their upcoming play.

In addition to costumes set in the Harlem era, White and her crew use period music to transform the world of the fairies into a world full of jazz and swing. The fairies themselves are clad in short dresses and flapper attire typical of jazz clubs in the 1920s and 30s.

When asked how the students responded to the changes in the play, White said making the changes actually helped the students to get into the material better.

White said another important part of the production has been the volunteers. Harris Hurst, Lisa and John King, and Paul Robertson of Advantage Sound have all volunteered their time to help put the production together, White said.

The rehearsals started six weeks ago in class and all this week the group has been practicing diligently in preparation for opening night at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Other performances will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18; 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday Nov. 19-20.

Kelli Wright is the staff writer for The Demopolis Times. She can be reached at kelli.wright@demopolistimes.com.