The Compass Shakespeare Ensemble, the MFA company of Mary Baldwin University’s Shakespeare and Performance program, presents a commedia dell’arte-inspired production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In this delightful comedy by William Shakespeare, four young lovers bent on righting their romantic wrongs find themselves lost in an enchanted forest where satyrs and nymphs abide. Oberon and Titania, the fairy king and queen, find themselves at odds, and no creature — magic or mortal — is safe from the crossfire. In the midst of this magical mayhem, a group of craftsmen gather together to present a play for the duke on his wedding night. Meanwhile, the mischievous Puck, servant to Oberon, takes delight in causing chaos and confusion along the way. This exhilarating story of mix-ups, magic, and true love ends with a hilarious play-within-a-play.

Compass Shakespeare Ensemble’s commedia dell’arte-inspired production will incorporate a traditional use of masks, stock characters, magic, and improvisation to tell the story of this lighthearted comedy.

Guest director John Bellomo is a Philadelphia-based director/actor/movement specialist, who has studied commedia dell’arte at Maestro Antonio Fava’s International School for the Comic Actor and is a founding member and artistic director of Ombelico Mask Ensemble. As a fight director, he is a six-time Barrymore Award nominee and one-time recipient. He has taught stage combat at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, Teatro-in-Polvere in Milan, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, Temple University, and Officina Teatrale in Catanzaro, Calabria, Italy. He received an MFA in directing from Temple University and a BFA in acting from the University of the Arts.

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream performs at 8 p.m. February 26 and February 27 at the Blackfriars Playhouse, located at 10 South Market Street in Staunton. All performances are free to the public. A suggested donation of $5 in support of our season’s mission may be offered at the door.

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