EAST LONDON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENTS
A Midsummer Nights Dream
East London Shakespeare Festival is committed to bringing high quality and accessible Shakespeare to East London audiences. A Midsummer Night's Dream is arguably Shakespeare's most popular stories, because it is essentially a raucous, romantic comedy!
We were keen to bring our the romance, mad-cap humour and musicality of this wonderful story and were very quickly drawn to the idea of festivals and carnivals.
Our production is set at a vibrant music festival, called The Wood. Stages inclues The Bower, featuring acts such as The Tong and Bones & Titania and her Fairies. All the glitter used is biodegradable and the majority of our costumes & props are second hand or from local charity shops. Join the Lovers as they wend their way around this colourful, at times confusing festival.
We hope you enjoy our festival as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.
Dream Come True!
What an incredible first year! We performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and accompanying community engagement programme at Higham Hill Hub E17, Lloyd Park E17, Leyton Jubilee Park E10 and Wanstead Park E11. The first year was a huge success, we completed:
21 Sold Out Shows
2000+ Tickets Sold
3 x School Matinees + Pre-show workshop
18 x Flower Garland Making workshops for 3-11 year olds
Amazing Community Ensemble - local people featured in the show
2 x Apprentice Schemes
Worked with 13+ Community Partners & Local Businesses
OFFIE Nomination for Best Company Ensemble
The evaluation from our online survey, showed that 98% of respondents “understood & enjoyed the performance," citing the key features as ‘joyful,’ ‘diverse cast,’ ‘beautiful setting.’ A huge majority walked or cycled to the show and their travel time was under 30 minutes. As such our age range was huge, with an audience made up of 0-90 year olds.
If you saw the show & enjoyed it, please share & tag us on social media
Photographer: Ellie Jackson
Katherine Hare - Director
Katherine is currently the International Associate Director for Tina the Musical
Recent credits include: Resident Director on Bat Out of Hell (Dominion Theatre), Aladdin (Wyvern Theatre, Swindon), Some Lovers (The Other Palace); Associate Director on Sunny Afternoon (West End & UK Tour); Resident Director on Aladdin (Cambridge Arts) and Associate Director to David Grindley on Kafka’s Dick for Theatre Royal Bath (UK tour).
Other work as director includes: Closer Than Ever (Urdang Academy); UK premiere of Bernarda Alba (Union, for Triptic); Bad Musical for the Trap (Edinburgh Festival); The Tender Land (Arcola); Crazy for You (Eyebrow Productions’ Showtime Challenge at the London Palladium); The Beach (Cockpit) and Modern Dance for Beginners (Camden People’s Theatre).
Work as Assistant Director includes: Assistant Director to Maria Friedman on The Blue Angel (Rehearsed Reading) Our Boys (Duchess); Park Avenue Cat (Arts); Dirty White Boy (Trafalgar Studios); Proud (New Wimbledon Studio) and Hit Me: the Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury (Garrick/UK tour).
Katherine has also worked at the National Theatre Studio helping to develop a number of new musicals.
Note from Director
It has been an immense pleasure and privilege to direct this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In what has been a torrid time for the arts and theatre in general, I am so humbled to be directing at all, let alone with such a generous and profoundly talented group of people. The last eighteen months has highlighted just how important human connection is and how much we have previously taken for granted everyday interaction and so I was especially thrilled to direct a piece which so definitively and beautifully discusses the notion of love and dreams.
I really wanted our version of this well-loved play to highlight the unbridled joy of Hermia and Lysander at being free of restrictions and let loose to find their future in the woods. The choice to set this at a contemporary music festival meant that we could explore themes of escape, magic and freedom while also keeping us within an instantly recognisable and domestic environment.
The challenges of rehearsing an outdoor production (especially in the times of Covid) are immense and my heartfelt thanks and gratitude go out to the entire team for meeting every challenge with determination and positivity. It is a testament to the grit and tenacity of Rosie and Ursula that we are in the enviable position of being able to share this work with you after such a testing time.
I have endeavoured to make this production about inclusivity, joy, music and togetherness. This would not have been possible without the generosity of spirit shown by our merry band of creatives. The music of Alex Beetschen has been pivotal to the world we have created, as has the brilliance of our movement director Sundeep Saini. George Thompson’s design has brought so much flair and originality to our world and Chloe Astleford has made the whole thing look much easier than it actually is. Our cast have, at every turn, embraced this project and run with it and I cannot wait for you to see the product of their endeavours.
I hope that you have as much joy in visiting our festival as we have had in the creation of it.
Sweet dreams ARE made of this.
George Alexander – Designer
George is a designer and illustrator working across a wide range of creative industries, specialising in theatre and costume. With a background in sculpture from Goldsmith University, George began working as a scenic painter in 2010 and has worked on a number of films and music videos since. George's style incorporates contemporary themes with a love of historical fashion and traditional making processes. His passion for extremes allows him to generate pieces that can vary from the wildly extravagant to the absurdly minimal. George's recent work includes a giant mural painted in the lobby of the Unicorn Theatre in London Bridge and an illustration collaboration with the Fashion and Textile museum.
George's designs feature in A Midsummer Night's Dream as the cushions in Titania's bower
Pieces are available to purchase:
Alex Beetschen – Musical Director
Alex is a graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge and The Royal Academy of Music.
As musical director and arranger/orchestrator: Company (RWCMD); The Wizard of Oz (Storyhouse); A Little Night Music (Storyhouse); The Stripper (St James Studio); Shock Treatment (King's Head Theatre); The Marriage of Figaro (King's Head Theatre/UK Tour); The Three Musketeers (Kenton Theatre, Henley); Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing (UK Tours with The Lord Chamberlain's Men). As musical director: Curtains (Wyndham’s Theatre/UK Tour); Little Shop of Horrors (Storyhouse); The Toxic Avenger (Arts Theatre/Southwark Playhouse); Love's Labour's Lost (Hackney Empire); Little Red Riding Hood (National Youth Ballet); Once We Lived Here (King's Head); Ulla's Odyssey (King's Place/UK Tour); La Traviata (Soho Theatre/Tricycle Theatre).
Upcoming: Story Chef (WhizzFizzFest), Spring Awakening (RADA), Antigone (Storyhouse).
Sundeep Saini - Movement Director
Sundeep is a movement director & choreographer.
Credits include: Upcoming: Billy the Kid (NYMT), The Princess and the Pea (Tutti Frutti UK Tour). A Movement Director & Choreographer: The Comedy of Errors (The Roman Theatre Open Air Festival - St Albans), Christmas Allsorts (Queens Theatre, Hornchurch); Dame Terry’s Very Merry Christmas (Watford Palace Theatre), As You Like It (National Theatre Public Acts Production), Grandma Saves the Day (New Wolsey Theatre), , HABS Gala – Sound of Music Excerpts (Barbican), Beauty and the Beast (Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch), This Girl Can – Flash Mob (Sports England), Seussical the Musical (Chelsea Theatre), Guys & Dolls (Monte Hall), Fame the Musical (The London Palladium), Bugsy Malone, Dracula Spectacula, Back to the 80’s. Film credits: Bin It, Horn Ok Please, Golmaal Returns, Singh Is King, Haal-e-Dil, De Taali, Salaam E Ishq.
Chloe Astleford - Stage Manager
Chloe is a stage manger and actor, originally from Lincolnshire. Previous work in Stage Management includes: Counting Sheep (Vault Festival), Madam Butterfly (Cadogan Hall)
As an actor her work in theatre includes: Pressure Points (The White Bear), Graceful (Rosemary Branch/RADA festival), SLAM Festival (Arcola), The Soldier’s Tale (Dartington, Presteigne Music Festivals)
She is really excited to work on her first outdoor production with such a talented team!
MEET THE CAST
HERB CUANALO – Bottom & Egeus
Herb recently graduated from the Bristol Old Vic School.
Theatre includes: Hound of the Baskervilles (The Barn Theatre) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Faction Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Redbridge Arts Centre), Titus Andronicus (Siege Theatre), Our Country’s, Richard III, Festen, Equus (Bristol Old Vic School).
GENEVIEVE DUNNE – Hermia, Snout & Moth
Genevieve trained in clowning and mime at the Jacques Lecoq school in Paris before completing a Masters in Acting at East 15. She has performed in theatres including The Lyric Hammersmith, The Orange Tree and Bristol Old Vic, working with companies such as Sell A Door, The Pleasance and Vital Stages, but has spent the last four years mainly touring the world with internationally acclaimed physical theatre company 1927 as well as producing modern adaptations of classical myths with her own company NMT Automatics.
As a Leytonstone girl, born and bred, Genevieve is delighted to be performing on home turf.
URSULA EARLY – Helena, Snug & Cobweb
Acting: Ursula trained at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was born in Hackney.
TV /Film credits include: Eastenders, Doctors, The Bill, Life Begins, The Life Class. Stage credits include: The Endings (Soho Theatre & Nottingham Playhouse), Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Elbows, (Arts Theatre/Theatre Royal Stratford East), Surplus Women (Theatre Royal Bath Ustinov), Powerhouse, Last Manor Standing and The Power Of Love (Pleasance Theatre, London & Edinburgh), Wives As They Were Maids As They Are and Animal Magnetism (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and Haymarket, Basingstoke), Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night (Cambridge Shakespeare Company), Guests (Hall For Cornwall), Master Of Mayhem (Eastern Angles), Just For Fun (New End Theatre), Diamond (Kings Head), Blame (Sphinx Theatre Company – Tour), The Glimmer (Bristol Old Vic Studio).
REECE EVANS – Puck
Duke Orsino, Sam Wanamaker Festival, Shakespeare’s Globe 2019, Ziggy, ‘Sweet’, Box Clever Theatre (Tour) 2019 Vince Prince, Sleeping beauty, Watford Palace 2020 Rob, Blood Wedding, Salisbury Playhouse 2020 Breaker, You Can Do Anything, Brighton Open Air
TIMOTHY MYLECHREEST – Lysander, Quince & Mustardseed
Timothy trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre arts in Actor Musicianship where he was awarded the DADA scholarship.
Theatre credits include: Pygmalion (Italy tour); A Christmas carol; This is Elvis (UK & Ireland tour); Dirty Dancing (UK & European tour); City Melodies; Festive Folklore; and Oh! What a lovely war. Film/Media Credits include: Home for aged time travellers (Print room productions); Crooked House (Brilliant films/fred films); A Christmas carol (CD); A Life worth living..(CD); Brass in Concert (world of brass) and multiple independent short films in which in 2020 he was nominated for Best Actor at the Gold Movie Awards for his performance in ‘The Pitch’.
FINLAY PAUL – Demetrius, Flute and Peaseblossom
Finlay trained at at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He’s since made his west end debut in ‘The Comedy About A Bank Robbery’ and performed in several radio drama.
Captain Bartoulous (Orlando, Celia de Wolff), Understudy (The Comedy About a Bank Robbery, Criterion Theatre and tour), Hotel Manager (In Search of Lose Time, BBC Radio 4), Noah (The Interpretation of Dreams, The Bunker), Jamie (Booze, Thundercrack, New York), Richard (Guildhall, Finlay Paul). Other training: Musical Theatre Course, Dance School of Scotland
ANDY UMERAH – Theseus & Oberon
Andy trained at Queen Margaret's and has worked consistently in a variety of different shows since, including an acting tour in Germany, an award winning web series ‘Reckless’ and several advertising campaigns.
In 2018 he was nominated for Best Male Performance at 'The Offies' for his work in the critically acclaimed play 'Sweet Like Chocolate Boy'
Since 2019 he has been a series regular as rapping music teacher, Clinton Russell in 4 O'clock Club for CBBC.
‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ has always been his favourite Shakespeare and he feels honoured to be working with such a talented cast, crew and director.
ROSIE WARD - Titania & Hippolyta
Rosie trained in Acting at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
Theatre Credits include: Ariadne Ovid’s Metamorphoses (EdFringe & Vaults Festival, PantsOnFire), Cleopatra Anthony & Cleopatra & Goneril King Lear (Cambridge Shakespeare Festival); Lady Macbeth Macbeth – UK Tour & Viola Twelfth Night – Bloomsbury Theatre + UK Tour (Young Shakespeare Company); Soloist New Musicals Project – Leicester Square Theatre & Soloist British Musical Future Hosted by Stiles & Drewe – The Other Palace (AsToldBy)
Joining our team are two incredibly talented young professionals.
MATTHEW KASHMAN - Philostrate, Starveling & Fairy
As part of the Chickenshed Theatre Company, Matt has performed in the productions, "(L)able," (2019) "Transitions," (2019) "Snow White" (2019) and "A Christmas Carol" (2018).
Credits include: "The Monstrum" at Theatre Royal Stratford East (2018) and "The Musicians" at the Greenwich Theatre (2017)
MICHAEL JORDAN - Assistant Director
Michael is a young actor and director born in East London. He has been trained by the National Youth Theatre and RAW Academy. He has previously written and directed his own play. Michael is excited to pursue more directorial roles in the future.
Joining the company onstage for a selection of performances are our wonderful community ensemble. This opportunity was opened to all residents and participants joined us for rehearsals and a workshop.
Community Ensemble: Hudson Cole, Lily Dyer, Alexandra Heybourne, Bash Heybourne & Savio-Kevin Lubega.
COMMUNITY ENSEMBLE FEEDBACK
“Massive thank you for letting me and Bash (her baby) be a part of your production. This opportunity came at such an amazing when I’m trying to redefine who I am post baby, so to make a come back and build my confidence meant the world! Being involved in your play gave me a glimpse of who I used to be and I loved it.
I’d love to be involved next year.”
“Thank you for having me as part of the chorus ensemble. It was a real privilege to watch and be a part of the show. It was truly brilliant! I look forward to potentially working with you and maybe the cast again in the future.”
The mood is merry in Athens as the town prepares for the wedding of their Duke Theseus & his bride-to-be, Hippolyta. However, local man Egeus is not in the mood for celebrating. He is furious as his daughter Hermia has fallen in love with Lysander and is refusing to marry his choice of husband, Demetrius. He demands Duke Theseus lays down the ancient law of Athens that is she refuses to marry Demetrius, she must die or become a nun. Devastated, Hermia and Lysander plan to run away to The Wood, to be married. They share their secret with Hermia's best friend, Helena. However, instead of keeping Hermia's secret, Helena betrays her trust and tells Demetrius because she is desperately in love with him, and hopes this will make him love her back.
Elsewhere in Athens, an amateur dramatic group made up of local Mechanicals, practice a play for the Duke's wedding. Peter Quince, the director tells the players that they will be performing 'The Most Lamentable Comedy and Cruel Death of Pyramus & Thisbe,' with aspiring actor, Nick Bottom, in the title role. They agree to meet in The Wood later to rehearse.
Lysander and Hermia head to The Wood, followed by an angry Demetrius, who is pursued by a lovesick Helena.
However, trouble is brewing in The Wood. It is the home of King and Queen of the Fairies, Titania and Oberon. They are in the middle of a huge fight, which is wreaking havoc with the natural world and causing storms, flood and crops to die. They are fighting because Titania has adopted a Changeling Boy and Oberon wants him to be in his fairy band. Livid that Titania will not give the boy to him, Oberon plots his revenge. He commands his right-hand man, Puck, to find a magical flower called Love in Idleness. Oberon explains that he will put the juice of the flower on Titania's eyelids when she's sleeping, when she wakes up, she will fall madly in love with the first thing she sees.
Oberon is interupted by Helena and Demetrius and quickly turns himself invisible. He witnesses Helena begging Demetrius to love her, and Demetrius' disgust as he refuses her. She continues to chase him through The Wood, as Puck returns with the magical flower. Oberon commands Puck to find Demetrius and use the flower to make him fall in love with Helena.
However, Puck stumbles across Lysander and Hermia sleeping in the The Wood and gets confused - he accidentally applies the flower to Lysander's eyes, who is woken by Helena. Lysander immediately falls head over heels in love with Helena, and decides to follow her, leaving Hermia alone in The Wood. Oberon realises Puck's mistake and demands he finds Demetrius, because he must fall in love with Helena.
Meanwhile, the Mechanicals meet in The Wood to rehearse their play, not realising that they are rehearsing right next to Titania, who is sleeping. Mischievous Puck performs a spell on Bottom, giving him a Donkey's head, which terrifies the other Mechanicals. They run away screaming, which wakes up Titania, who sees Bottom (complete with Donkey head). Because of the magical flower, Titania falls instantly in love with Bottom and her and fairies take him to her bower. Blinded by love for Bottom, Titania has lost interest in her Changeling Boy and gives him to Oberon.
Meanwhile, chaos has ensued because of Puck's mistake. Now, Lysander and Demetrius are fighting over Helena and have completely forgotten about Hermia. Hermia finds them and is furious as she thinks Helena has stolen Lysander. A huge fight ensues, until all the Lovers are so exhausted, they fall asleep in The Wood. Oberon and Puck take this opportunity to remove the spell from Lysander's eyes. Now Lysander loves Hermia again, and Demetrius loves Helena. Having got what he wanted and had his fun by making Titania fall in love with an ass, Puck removes Bottom's donkey head, and Oberon removes the spell from Titania's eyes. Peace is restored in fairy land.
On the way to the wedding, Theseus, Hippolyta and Egeus stumble across the Lovers. Demetrius explains that he now loves Helena. Egeus agrees that Hermia can marry Lysander, and the Duke declares they will all be married today.
Bottom returns, just in time for their performance of ' The Most Lamentable Comedy and Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisbe.' The Mechanicals perform their play, which includes a Lion, a Wall, high drama and some questionable acting!
The wedding has been a success and everyone goes to bed. While the mortals sleep, Titania, Oberon & Puck bless the house and wish joy to all the couples.
PRODUCERS - URSULA EARLY & ROSIE WARD
Producing and Directing: Alongside being one of the founders and directors of ELSF she is director for Waltham Forest based theatre and community company Blackhorse Arts. She is also Producer and Programmer for Walthamstow’s performance venue CentreE17.
Founder and Company Director of UpFront Theatre Company, touring educational PSHE workshops and plays around UK Schools. Principal at Act Out Performing Arts and co-founder and co-director of East London Shakespeare Festival.
The East London Shakespeare Festival aims to bring joyful, contemporary and professional productions to outdoor community spaces. We want to make Shakespeare accessible to all, be that creatively, financially or logistically. Alongside our fantastic productions, we are running a Community Programme including an Apprentice scheme for aspiring actors/directors; Community Ensemble for local people to get involved; Performances & Workshops for Local Schools and plenty of Volunteer opportunities. We have partenered with local companies and aim to support other local businesses though our productions.
As an outdoor production, it was really important that our venues were as magical as our story. We have found some East London gems, that are truly blessed with fairy grace.
HIGHAM HILL HUB
Thank you to Lillian Gerber for allowing us to use the magical outdoor space at Higham Hill Hub.
We don't know whether those fairies have been at work, but there is truly a feeling of magic and peace inside the gardens at The Hub.
Higham Hill Hub is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation based within Higham Hill Park whose social purpose is to facilitate, host and deliver a diverse range of activities & seasonal events for all generations of the community.
Higham Hill Hub’s facilities include a hall, small kitchen, toilets (including disabled toilet), and limited storage. The 6m x 12m hall includes a sprung dance floor and mirrors.
The building is wheelchair accessible and we also have a large, private lawn.
The Hub is affordable to hire for everything from classes and events, to meetings and birthday parties.
Thank you to Ellie Mortimer at Greenspace, for allowing us to use the beautiful Lloyd Park.
Right in the heart of Walthamstow, Lloyd Park is the epicentre of many wonderful events and community activities.
Lloyd Park was first opened by the Victorians on 28 July 1900. It was named in honour of the Lloyd family, who lived in Water House (now the William Morris Gallery). When they moved, the family gifted their land to the Council, with the condition that it be turned into a public park. The Council also bought additional land, in 1899 and 1912 (now Aveling Fields) and the park became the size it is today.
Prior to it being a park, Aveling Fields was farmland and today’s paths run along original field boundaries. The southern area of the park was private gardens for Water House; a gentleman’s country residence. Other famous inhabitants include William Morris; the gardens helped inspire his love of nature, which he expressed in his designs.
We can trace the history of the land as far back as the medieval period, when it’s thought the moat was built; originally to defend a house that would have been situated within it.
You can find out more about the park’s history, by looking at the twelve interpretation panels we have in the park. They’ve got lots of fascinating old photographs and maps of the park and beautiful William Morris inspired designs.To commemorate the centenary of Lloyd Park, a time capsule was buried in the lawn outside the William Morris Gallery on 28 July 2000.
KUKOOLALA CAFE GARDEN AT LEYTON JUBILEE PARK
Thank you to Ellie Mortimer at Greenspace & Joy at Kukoolala Cafe, for allowing us to use the lovely space behind the cafe.
KukooLala has charm by the bucket load, and we can't wait to add some fairy magic into the mix.
We have been awarded the permanent contract to run the community cafe in Leyton Jubilee Park. It is our hope to make the cafe a meeting point for local residents to come together in a diverse warm space. Whether you need a formal, but light & airy meeting room or a magical garden, we can make your event a success. Just feeling lonely? Come for a chat. Are you a new parent or carer & looking to meet others? Check out our events or just head on down anytime & let the little one(s) have a go at our toybox for a well deserved break.
THE TEMPLE AT WANSTEAD PARK
Many thanks to Ben Rosendale, the Visitor Experience Manager for Epping Forest.
We are very excited to venture from Waltham Forest to Redbridge to the stunning Wanstead Park.
Wanstead Park was once a sculpted landscape surrounding the great Wanstead House, often compared to Blenheim Palace. Though the house is gone, the park remains and provides a perfect venue for relaxing and escaping the urban sprawl.
The park is also home to The Temple, one of our Visitor Centres - once a rich man's folly, and nowadays home to art and history exhibitions and the story of Wanstead House.
We have been hugely lucky to have our fair share of fairies, who have made this project possible.
WALTHAM FOREST COUNCIL
This project has been funded by Community Ward Funding from Higham Hill, Chapel End, William Morris and Leyton.
Special thanks to Cllr's Karen Bellamy, Simon Miller, Paul Douglas and Grace Williams.
They have been on board from the very early stages of this project and their continuing support and guidance has been invaluable.
ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND
This project has been funded by Arts Council England.
Their fund supports thousands of artists and creative projects per year. Let’s Create, our strategy for the next ten years, describes their vision that, by 2030, England will be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences.
SWIRE CHARITABLE TRUST
This project received a generous donation from Swire Chartiable Trust.
The Swire Charitable Trust is an independent UK grant making trust. Since 1975 we have been supporting charities that share our commitment to delivering positive and lasting change to UK society. We receive our funding from John Swire & Sons Ltd, the parent company of the Swire Group.
Lillian Gerber at Higham Hill Hub was one of the first people to hear about our idea for the play and has been an invaluable support since then. They are kindly donating performance, storage and rehearsal space.
The outdoor space at Higham Hill Hub is truly magical; and hosts a huge array of projects for the community, including fantastic charitable work with PinPoint Inc & COG.
Ellie Jackson has been the professional photographer on the project, taking some beautiful snaps of rehearsals and shows.
She photographs weddings, events, theatre productions - to find out more:
Special thanks to Lizzy Renihan at Natural Voices, Sammy at RAW Academy, Ian Noble at Redbridge Drama Centre, UpFront Theatre Company, Act Out Performing Arts, Mary Dunne Theatre School for spreading the word about the project and sharing our opportunities to get involved.
Thanks to Joe & Emma Ward, and Grant Sterry for their assistance with transport and kit.
© East London Shakespeare Company Ltd, Registered in England, Company No 064-961760
East London based theatre company