COLUMBIA — Demetrius appeared wearing hiking boots and shorts as he hungered for the love of Hermia, who was wearing a tank top and a pair of red sneakers.
The characters, featured in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," were presented in a different way in the 5th Wall Productions' version of the play, which was performed Sunday evening at the Boone County Courthouse Amphitheater.
“A Midnight Summer Dream” is scheduled to be performed at 6:30 p.m. Fridays and at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through July 24. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” is set to be performed at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays and at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through July 24.
Both performances take place at the Boone County Courthouse Amphitheater, next to the courthouse at 705 E. Walnut Street.
5th Wall Productions is a Columbia-based acting troupe that is committed to bringing quality theatrical experiences to the area. The troupe has been presenting Shakespeare in a not-so-standard manner for the past two years.
Along with "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which is a new show, the group also performed the “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged,” which is a modern, reduced version of several Shakespeare plays.
Chris Bowling, acting president of 5th Wall Productions, said the main goal of the play and of the crew is to stretch out the potential for audiences that might be intimidated by theater because of length, interest or cost.
“We look for a way to bring it to audiences entirely by donation,” Bowling said, “We want to make it accessible to the audience.”
The stage manager for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Molly Fiegel, said the main purpose of the show is to encourage the public to engage and get involved in classics and lesser-known works. This version of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is not like any ordinary play of the 16th-century writer, but is instead a modern-contemporary show.
“We try to make it more current, in modern-day setting,” Lena Mitchell, who plays Hippolyta and Titania in the show, said. “The attitude is more current — contemporary outfits, cell phones, things like that.”
People can enjoy the show even if they are not familiar with Shakespeare or his plays, actor Dianna Long said. She plays Egeus and Peter Quince in the show.
During preparations for the show, the crew agreed with one another that hot weather and the Shakespearean language were the most difficult parts of the show.
“It’s hard on the actors because they have to be out in the heat,” Bowling said.
The troupe doesn't charge for tickets but asks that the audience donates money based on how entertained they were by the show. Sometimes the “pay-what-you-can” method can be a burden. When donations fall short, the budget comes from the crew's own wallets, Bowling said. But, he said, the crew members believe art and expression are crucial to cultural development.
“We don’t have many resources. Everything comes from what the crews and casts bring to the show,” Bowling said, “but our first year was very successful, so that helps us a little bit.”
Despite the fact that Shakespeare created 21 characters for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” this performance works with a cast of 14 — most actors play two roles.
A small crowd braved the heat to come to Sunday's performance. Eva Akers, a Columbia resident who attended Sunday’s performance with her son, said it was a very enjoyable show.
“I love Shakespeare,” she said. “I like the venue and modern elements in the show, and it didn’t take away from the storyline.”
Christopher Gould, a librarian who brought his daughter, agreed, saying it was also good for educational purposes.
“I think people definitely need to come out and see Shakespeare,” Gould said, “He is culturally our most prolific playwright, so I think people need to be aware of his works."