Midsummer in December

By Grant Mudge

The December full moon arrives at 12:12am on 12/12, known as the Full Cold Moon. It’s the same date we selected for Lavina Jadhwani’s master class, in anticipation of her production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The class will run from 7-9pm.

It’s known also as the Long Night’s Moon, and both names have roots in First Nation or Native American traditions, occurring as it does on or near the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, this year the 21st. It’s also called the Moon Before Yule, the Oak Moon, and the Bitter Moon.

Naturally, this had me thinking of the Moon in Midsummer. Some of you may know Earth’s satellite plays a special role in my house.

There’s even a hint of direct reference in the play, though Theseus here is speaking more about Chastity than Winter, and contrasting with more Earthly fruitfulness:

“Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father’s choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun,
For aye to be in shady cloister mew’d,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice-blessed they that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage;
But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,
Than that which withering on the virgin thorn
Grows, lives and dies in single blessedness. ” I.i

It’s a distillation of the fertile growth of summer living on, perhaps in progeny. Like a flower distilled into perfume outliving the blossom itself.

The cycles of the Moon and the Seasons of course are often tied to fertility rites, marriages, and festivals whether of high summer, deep winter, or harvest. In the very first sentence of Shakespeare’s play, Theseus bemoans the slow approach of a new Moon, whose pace and chastity “lingers his desires.” Hippolyta assures him that the time will quickly pass and that the Moon will arrive in four days, “like to a silver bow/ New-bent in Heaven.” She will “behold the night of our solemnities.” One assumes chaste Diana will occasionally look away.

Moments later in the same scene, Egeus decries Lysander’s singing of feigning verses to Hermia “by moonlight” and of course the Queen of the Fairies herself proclaims the Moon to be “pale in her anger,” who “washes all the air that rheumatic diseases do abound,” among other disastrous climate changes. The speech is a key reason I’ve selected Midsummer for 2020.

The troupe of workmen rehearsing a play for Theseus and Hippolyta’s royal marriage need moonlight in their play because, “you know, Pyramus and Thisbe meet by moonlight.” Nick Bottom later greets the actor presenting Moonshine with “Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams.”

Even Cupid’s arrows are “quenched in the chaste beams of the watery Moon,” and after forty-seven other references, it is not Theseus who speaks the final mention of the Moon, as the Dream fades into morning, but Puck:

“Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the Moon.”

I’m intrigued and delighted to see that as we reach the antipodal solstice of our coming 20th Anniversary NDSF Season, the full Moon will usher in some winter cheer on the 12th day of December. Maybe we’ll howl at the Full Cold Moon.

It should be a terrific occasion and I look forward to everyone meeting Lavina Jadhwani.

See you then.






Exploring the outcast, the excluded, and the other.

The theme of this summer’s Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival is, unfortunately, quite timely. What does Shakespeare have to say about those on the margins of society? Those who are cast out, forgotten, pushed aside? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Through three of his most famous works, this NDSF season explores what it means to exist on the edges of an arbitrarily selective culture.

“Poison his delight.”
So much has changed since Shakespeare’s time, and yet, so much remains the same. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, one of Shakespeare’s most powerful (and famed) dramas, comes ready-made with controversial themes; race, duty, jealousy, prejudice, and manipulation all swirl about in its tragic story.

And yet the hope of all dramatists, excoriating though their material can be, is to help us move forward into a better world. As director Cameron Knight notes in his season essay, “Will we continue to seek safety and community in hate? Or can we have the hard conversations and take the strong actions to make a world we all can be proud of?”

Othello comes to life in a bold new Professional Company production here at Notre Dame beginning August 14th. Starring in the title role is Esau Pritchett, a powerful and dynamic actor seen often onscreen (Orange is the New Black, Luke Cage, The Night Of, The Blacklist) and onstage (Broadway’s Vivian Beaumont Theater, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, among many others). The cast also includes veteran stage actor Robert Ramirez as Iago, Delaney Feener as Desdemona, Paul Hurley as Roderigo, and Chicago actor Maggie Kettering as Emilia.

  • WHEN: August 14-26, 2018
  • WHERE: Patricia George Decio Theatre, Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame, IN

Tickets for Othello are $15-$40 and can be purchased here.

Giving back to our community.
The mission of the Fremont Park Foundation is both simple and grand: To provide positive activities for young people and adults alike. Indeed, the Fremont Park Foundation has made a huge impact in areas of the city that have, until now, been overlooked or underserved. Fremont Park itself has been bestowed with transformative new additions, including a splash pad, new playground equipment, and new basketball courts. Why not add some Shakespeare into the mix as well?

To that end: Shakespeare in Fremont Park, a seven-week program involving community based organizations in South Bend. Focused on the city’s west side, the effort will allow young people to work directly with adults to create, rehearse, and perform a theatre production inspired by Shakespeare. Performing July 26 & 27 at 7pm, the Shakespeare in Fremont Park performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream features a cast drawn from local neighborhoods, in a bouncy and vibrant new staging directed by upcoming talent Marlon Burnley.

  • WHEN: Thursday, July 26 & Friday, July 27, 2018 at 7:00pm
  • WHERE: Fremont Park, 1800 Fremont St. ad W. Hamilton St., South Bend, IN

For more information about Shakespeare in Fremont Park, click here.

Don’t forget…
The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival’s Touring Company performance of The Merchant of Venice is on the road now! Check out an exclusive musical performance from the show below, and be sure to catch one of their shows, touring now through August 20 to multiple outdoor locations across Michiana.

Visit shakespeare.nd.edu for more information.

Summer Means Shakespeare.

This summer’s Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival kicks off Friday, July 13. Lucky you. This six-week celebration of all things Shakespeare draws thousands of attendees from across the country and around the world every summer. And this year’s festival will be one to remember.

Boozy. Bawdy. Bloody good fun.
The festival kicks off with Shakespeare After Hours. This ain’t ya mama’s Shakespeare. It’s a little boozy. A little raunchy. And it’s a lot of fun. This freewheeling audience favorite packed the house in its inaugural year, and it’s back and bawdier than ever. Bring cash for the bar — and leave the kids at home. It’s Shakespeare on the scandalous side, and it’s not to be missed.

  • WHEN: Friday, July 13 at 9pm
  • WHERE: LangLab, 1302 High Street, South Bend, IN

This event is currently SOLD OUT. Missed tickets? Have no fear. Any tickets not claimed by 9pm on Friday, July 13 will be released. Check with us at the door!

Bite-sized bits of the Bard’s best.
So you’ve had your grown-up fun. Now get the rest of the family in on it. Enter ShakeScenes — a staple of the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival for over 15 years. Come cheer on young people from across Michiana as they perform selections from Shakespeare’s greatest moments. It’s the perfect summer-afternoon entertainment, held annually in Notre Dame’s beautiful Washington Hall.

  • WHEN: Saturday, July 14 at 2pm
  • WHERE: Washington Hall, Notre Dame, IN

Reserve your FREE tickets for ShakeScenes here.

Laughter under the wide open sky.
Perennial favorite The Merchant of Venice is a fast-paced, pratfall-heavy comic joyride, brought to electric life by director Jemma Alix Levy and the NDSF Touring Company in their signature style. The tour kicks off July 15 at Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, and travels to multiple locations across Michiana through Aug. 20. Bring the family, pack a picnic dinner, and enjoy 80 minutes of family-friendly hilarity in the beautiful outdoor venue of your choice.

  • WHEN: Touring July 15-August 20
  • WHERE: Various locations across Michiana.

Click here for a complete list of NDSF Touring Company dates and times.

Check out a special performance from Merchant cast members Kayla Rundquist and Dana Gary!

And that’s just the beginning — look forward to Shakespeare in Fremont Park on July 26-27, and finally the Professional Company production of The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice from August 14-26.

Visit shakespeare.nd.edu for more information.

Meet the Cast of the Winter’s Tale: Grant Goodman

Grant Goodman (Leontes)

Grant Goodman (Leontes)

Grant Goodman (Leontes, the King of Sicilia) is thrilled to be “back home again in Indiana” to perform at The Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. Off-Broadway credits include: Antony & Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice (Theatre for a New Audience), King Lear, The Iliad (Lincoln Center), Richard II (New York City Center/Pearl Theatre) and Pericles (Red Bull) among others.  Regional credits include extensive work with: Yale Repertory Theatre, Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, D.C.), The Old Globe, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Court Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, PlayMaker’s Repertory Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage, the Illinois, Kentucky, and Utah Shakespeare Festivals, and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey among many others. Television credits include: As the World Turns and Sex and the City. Training: Graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Grant was recently selected to represent the U.S. in the International Actors’ Fellowship at The Globe Theatre in London this coming fall.

For tickets visit DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Box Office

For information visit Shakespeare at Notre Dame

Meet the Cast of The Winter’s Tale: Joneal Joplin

Joneal Joplin (Camillo)

Joneal Joplin (Camillo)

Joneal “Jop” Joplin (Camillo) is pleased to be making his debut at NDSF with The Winter’s Tale. He has appeared in over 300 productions throughout the U.S. and Canada. Recent roles have included Tony Reilly in Outside Mullingar, The Old Actor in The Fantastiks!, Monseigneur Ryan in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, Uncle Ben in Death of a Salesman, Selsdon Mowbray in Noises Off, Northumberland in Henry IV, Archbishop and King Louis in Henry V, Candy in Of Mice and Men, John of Gaunt in Richard II and Captain Smith in Titanic. He has performed at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Missouri Rep, South Coast Rep, The Muny Opera, Dallas Theatre Center, Atlanta Theatre Under The Stars, Kansas City Starlight, The Hangar Theatre, Country Dinner Playhouse, Indianapolis Starlight, Theatre on the Square, Ensemble Theatre, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, The Human Race Theatre, Actor’s Studio, and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to name a few. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, the proud father of two splendid actors, Jen and Jared, and the proud husband for 53 years of his lovely bride, Janie.

For tickets visit DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Box Office

For information visit Shakespeare at Notre Dame