A midsummer night’s show

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NCAC prepares for its 20th Shakespeare in the Park production

This weekend, the Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission is presenting the 20th performance of Shakespeare in the Park: the longest running annual event honoring the famous writer in Central Indiana. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Seminary Park, located between 10th and 11th Streets and Division and Hannibal streets.

“It’s an honor to be part of such a neat group,” said director Ryan Shelton. Shelton first saw “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in high school and it quickly became his favorite Shakespeare play.

“You understand Shakespeare,” he said. “There are very serious and powerful moments and situations, but it’s humorous too which makes it fun.”

Shleton has previously acted in Noblesville’s Shakespeare in the Park performances of “The Tempest” and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” but this year is his first year at the helm.

“I thought there’d be a bigger weight than there is,” he confessed, adding the program’s history and staff is a blessing. “It helps having 20 years under their belt.”

Shelton said the shows will begin at approximately 8:20 p.m. and the play runs at an hour and 40 minutes. At 8 p.m., the actors have a costume parade to explain their characters to the audience.

“People come at 6 p.m. and bring a picnic and wine,” he said. “It’s a nice atmosphere. I always look forward to coming to the shows.”

Since the show is performed outdoors, Shelton and his cast and crew face many obstacles like street noise, unpredictable Indiana weather and occasional microphone issues. While the microphones may sporadically cut in and out, Shelton said the audience will still comprehend each scene.

“You feel their emotion. You may not catch every single word but you’re going to understand everything because they are so good,” he said. “It relieves the pressure a little bit. When actors hear that pop or crackle, it gives you permission to make it fun.”

Shelton said one of the best parts of being director is the actors he works with. Whether they are high school students to seasoned veterans, Shelton said everyone comes prepared and ready to each practice and rehearsal.

“It’s a fun process – they are great people,” he said. “It’s fun meeting new people, seeing some new performers.”

Travis Ireland last performed in “The Tempest” many years ago, but an encounter with Ron Richards, a regular at Uptown Café where Ireland works, brought him back to the acting world.

“He knew I was itching to get in a show,” said Ireland. “It was a simple transaction over the counter.”

Ireland said he enjoys the setting in Seminary Park and the enormity of the production and audience.

“Being here, under the stars, you feel what you are about to do,” he said, adding that he enjoys the emotional and comical elements of the show.

Ireland plays Puck, a comical and devilish fairy. “It wasn’t hard to tap into him that much,” he said with a grin.

Bri Handy made her Shakespeare in the Park debut the summer after graduating from Noblesville High School. The Indiana University junior said the annual show provides her with a chance to come home and participate in theater.

“I enjoy the people. They are all brilliant and really nice,” she said. “It’s really great to get to know all of them.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Handy’s favorite Shakespeare play. “I like it because it has fairies and because it’s not like Shakespeare,” she said. Having experience performing on the stage and outside, Handy said she enjoys the “natural feel” Shakespeare in the Park provides.

“It’s a lot more interactive,” she said. “It’s really neat being outside. The actors and audience get to watch as the sun goes down during the performance. It’s a natural feel. It’s a really neat experience.”

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