THE essence of summer is how Liverpool Shakespeare Festival director Max Rubin describes his upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Opening next Thursday at St James’ Garden, next to the Anglican Cathedral, the romantic comedy promises to have all the elements of an outdoor theatrical event and more.
“The gardens, with their history, natural beauty and little nooks and crannies, make a unique setting for the play,” said actor-turned-director Max, 34.
Half-way through rehearsals he was also talking of movement classes, fight directors, magic and circus skills.
“I think that the play has a dark heart,” he adds. “But there will be something in it for everyone, young or old. The last moment of the play will take your breath away.”
Max is director of Lodestar Theatre Company, which is presenting the play. The company name comes from a quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Helena tells Hermia: “Your eyes are lodestars, and your tongue's sweet air/More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear”.
Max says: “I liked the idea of the company name being something to steer your way by.”
He set up Lodestar three years ago with producer and creative manager Nina Borgner, and they pledge to work only with artists and practitioners from Liverpool and the North West.
“There is an enormous talent pool here in the city,” said Max. “And I want to show people that they don’t have to migrate to London for work.”
Max is also keen to give work to graduates from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and he has cast LIPA graduate Louise Grantham as Helena and Grace Menary-Winefield as Philostrate.
The roles of Oberon and Theseus will be played by Stephen Fletcher, who played Max in the highly acclaimed Liverpool Nativity.
The first ever Liverpool Shakespeare Festival was in 2007 when Lodestar presented Macbeth, watched by more than 5,000 people. The first half was performed in the Gothic vaults of the Anglican Cathedral and the second half outside in St James’ Gardens.
This year’s festival will last for more than five weeks and has already played host to London Globe Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale.
This weekend the festival presents a Bardic Open Air Cinema showing Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard and Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet. Last night was a screening of John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love.
Funding for the festival has come from a number of sources including Awards for All, the Liverpool Culture Company and the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts.
Audiences can expect all the trimmings including an alfresco restaurant, provided by Liverpool’s Delifonseca, a picnic basket scheme and free blankets for those who choose to sit on the floor.
Tickets are £15 (concessions £10) from www.The LiverpoolShakespeareFestival.co.uk or telephone 0151 727 1703.
Bardic Open Air Cinema in St James’ Gardens, Liverpool: Friday, August 8 – Looking for Richard, Pacino; Saturday, August 9 – Romeo and Juliet, Luhrman. Tickets: £6 (concessions £4)