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Students staging ‘Dream’

Fairmont High School students rehearse their upcoming play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which will be performed Feb. 21-23 at the Performing Arts Center at the high school. At center is Ethan Kueker, whose character is “Bottom.”

Fairmont High School is bringing William Shakespeare’s classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the stage.

The first show is 7 p.m. Thursday. They continue at that time through Feb. 23 at the Performing Arts Center at the high school.

Jonas Nissen, an English teacher, is the director. He has co-directed the school play for the past few years but this is his first year going solo in Fairmont. However, he is not new to the task, as he has been directing plays for about 30 years.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy written by Shakespeare in 1595. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyte, former queen of the Amazons. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most popular works for the stage and is performed across the world.

Nissen was drawn to the play because of its adaptability.

“I chose this play because I was looking for a play that I could expand or contract to fit the number of actors I had,” he said. “In this situation, I was able to use all of the actors that auditioned and that was the beauty of the script.”

There are 18 students in grades 9-12 in the production. About 10 others help in a number of capacities, including set construction, painting, makeup, lighting, sound and costumes.

Nissen said putting together the costumes has been a group effort. They are trying to contemporize the wardrobe to fit today’s modern style.

“This is a very hands-on experience for students,” he said. “I’ve tried to coach and guide the students in the accomplishments of tasks, but they are the ones learning the skills and doing the work … I’ve really tried to incorporate the students’ voice and creativity in this production.”

There are two student directors, Acaia Schmidt and Janessa Nelson who have been working in many areas of the production.

Mary Schmitt has been helping to create the set.

“She’s been a supporter of our program for a long time, and we really appreciate her help,” Nissen said.

The cast began practicing soon after Christmas break and has been meeting five days per week, but they have lost a lot of practice because of the many snow days. They are still having fun putting a spin on this classic.

“This play allowed us to really change and add things,” Nissen said. “This is not the traditional ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ This is a very adaptive version of it. We’re still using lots of Shakespeare’s lines, but we’ve made cuts and we’ve put in some narrators to help the audience follow the action of the story so anyone who’s not a Shakespeare fan should still come see the show. They’ll still enjoy it and they’ll get some laughs out of it.”

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $7 for adults or $5 for senior citizens. Students can attend for free.

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