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A Midsummer Night's Dream in Bali

William Shakespeare's Classic Adapted in a Balinese Version at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival October 7, 10 and 11.

(9/12/2009) This year's Ubud Writers and Readers Festival theme is 'Suka Duka', which roughly translated become 'Solidarity and Compassion' or "through thick and thin." On one level, "Suka Duka" defines the shared support that communities in Bali offer to each other in times of joy and sorrow.

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To explore this theme and the diverse talents of the communities in Bali, theatre firefly will present a contemporary Balinese version of the Shakespearean classic, A Midsummer Night's Dream in October. This magical Balinese adaptation of Shakespeare's classic explores our relationship with ourselves, our environment and each other - dissolving the boundaries between audience and actor, East and West, seen and unseen.

Featuring some of Bali's most talented performers along with professionals from England and America, the production will also showcase our talented youngsters, giving the opportunity for performers with a variety of backgrounds and experience to work together. Directed by South African theatre maker Rehane Abrahams, with digital gamelan and video installation designed by Noe saKAna, this feast for the senses promises to delight audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

About the Production

The show will be presented outdoors as a site-specific work at the ARMA Museum and Resort. This is a unique venue for the performing arts where actors and audience can blend into one unique world. The production is not limited to the physical boundaries of the stage and the actors no longer have to be separated from the audience, allowing them to be more immersed and interactive in their theatre experience. The resulting performance is a rich one. Actors, audience and the space in which they inhabit are all intertwined in a unique relationship. The nature of the site means the audience, performers and environment will all interact in a rich performance, dissolving boundaries and offering new experiences for both performer and audience alike.

One of the most important themes to be explored by this production is our relationship with our environment. Many of the costumes will be constructed from recycled waste both organic and man made, mixing rice straw with plastic bags or discarded offering cloths. The costumes will be designed to express natural life mingling with petrochemical by-products to create a new mutation in form. The current production poses the question what happens to a water spirit when the stream he or she lives in is full of chemicals from a factory, and how can we express this visually?

In keeping with the creative uses of recycled materials theme, instruments for the younger performers are created from found and recycled materials. These will be used to punctuate the fairies choral speaking of Oberon and Titania's lines. The rest of the soundscape will be made from sampled environmental sounds and sampled gamelan to create an electronic score that will enhance the atmosphere and provide accompaniment for dance sequences without overwhelming the performance.

Projecting across water and other natural features uniquely available on the ARMA grounds, the performance will rely heavily on the use of video in which the audience become immersed and forms part of the environment. Using layers of transparent cloth in between the audience and throughout the performance space, the projections bring the audience and the performers into one space.

The combination of the diverse cast, unique costumes, outdoor venue, soundscapes and video installations will create a rich and contemporary atmosphere in which to experience Shakespeare classic work and a multimedia feast for the senses for audiences of all ages.

The Director

Rehane Abrahams has a BA and performers Diploma from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and has worked as a professional actor and theatremaker for the past 20 years. She founded numerous theatre companies including Mothertongue www.mothertongue.co.za, of which she is co-founder and co-director. A published playwright, her work with Mothertongue is studied in the contemporary South African theatre module at universities in South Africa. She is also an educator and has worked with at risk and differently-abled students in South Africa, in Somerset, England and the Bay Area. This is her second larger scale work in Indonesia, her play 'Spice Root' featured composer Aloysius Suwardi with a cast of 6 dancers and musicians from Solo and traveled to theatres in South Africa. This play formed part of a seven year cycle ('Body of Work/Water') of four performance works spanning South Africa, England, Indonesia and Malaysia to address personal and social issues of colonialism, race and identity with particular reference to the Indian Ocean.

The current production of A Midsummer Night's Dream marks a new cycle in her theatremaking which she calls 'A New Geography of the Heart' that focuses on environmental performance and our immersion in landscapes of being.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Balinese Adaptation of a Play by William Shakespeare

ARMA Museum - Ubud

October 7, 10 and 11, 2009 7:00 p.m.

General Admission Rp. 250,000 (US$25), KITAS Rp. 150,000 (US$15), Students Rp. 75,000, Indonesians Rp. 50,000

For Information Telephone ++62(0)813 5300 5985

[Link: A Midsummer Night's Dream]