King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe is bringing summer to Columbia early… sort of. This weekend, they perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream as their annual outdoor show, which premieres Thursday at 8 pm, and runs Friday at almost-midnight and Saturday at 8 pm. Iambic pentametrophile Alison Herman sat down with KCST members Brian LaPerche, Alison Goldberg and Gerard Ramm to find out just how to organize a summer night’s orgy on Low Plaza.
Bwog: How long have you guys been in KCST?
BL: Alison and I actually since freshman year. Freshman fall, I was playing the clown in Winter’s Tale, she was doing the lights. I specifically remember walking home from the cast party together, and now we’re runnin’ it. [laughs] And Gerard…
GR: This is my first production. I was a late bloomer.
Bwog: How does KCST operate?
BL: In the fall, we try to do two shows a semester. Like last semester, we did Hamlet and Alice in Wonderland, so it’s not just Shakespeare—we do other stuff too. Alice in Wonderland was a great movement piece; they created the mushroom that the caterpillar sits on out of a six-person ensemble, and one person’s hand was the pipe they were smoking out of. Yisa Fermin directed that, and it was brilliant.
In the fall, it’s usually a Shakespeare and something else… But in the spring, we do spring show exclusively, along with Egg and Peacock, which is a 24-hour play festival. Starting at midnight, writers get a prompt, they write a play ‘til like 8 o’clock in the morning, we cast the play, and then we rehearse and stage it that night. In mid-February we did that, and now we do this outdoor spring show!
Bwog: Why A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Or why now?
BL: I think the thing about spring show is that it’s this outdoor show [...] But I think what really drew me to it is that KCST spring shows have a large ensemble, because we cast everyone for the spring show, so we end up having a lot of people who are a part of the scenes in smaller capacities… Why that was appealing for Midsummer is because it has this ensemble built into it. You have thirty fairies, ten goat-men satyrs, we have soldiers and ladies and people who do the play within the play, who have their own ensemble themselves, an ensemble within an ensemble kind of thing. It also has so many parts, and KCST’s so big, so we just divvy out really good stuff to so many people.
Bwog: What traditions does KCST have? I’ve heard there are some weirder ones.
GR: [mock-seriously] Well, the initiation ceremony is tri-partite. There are certain things we cannot tell you.
BL: Mostly traditions come in form of silly warm-ups and Sunday rehearsals. Every Sunday, the whole troupe meets and we play theater games, and then we start rehearsing after we do that stuff. Bagels and OJ in Wien—if you live in Wien, you’ve probably heard us yelling at 12:30ish.
AG: And the Friday midnight show tends to be a little different than the others…
BL: A little tipsy, a little Bachannalian, if you will.
AG: I thought more in terms of the light-saber and other stuff…
BL: Yeah, we have our show, but on the midnight show we’ll prank it a little bit. Actors might throw in some lines that I didn’t approve of… the silliness of it is also an interesting tradition.
Bwog: How’d the production come together? What’s the process?
BL: [. . .] The process is just throwing things at it, see what sticks, and organizing it from there on out. Usually for rehearsals, I’d be like, “You know what? Just go, do the scene.” And they’d play around with it, especially with Gerard and the mechanicals. It’s been like taking clay and molding it into something that’s a little more fine-tuned.
GR: The production’s been really collective in that way, in a way that a lot of productions I’ve been in haven’t been. A lot of directors would just focus on individuals in isolation, and I don’t know if that’s as helpful because we have ensembles in this play that all work together. Brian’s been so great in generating games for us to play together that really raise a real collective, while you’re concentrating on your character at the same time.
Bwog: What else would you like Columbia to know about the production?
BL: I would say bring a blanket, because there’ll be lots of sitting on lawns and you might want to sit on a blanket. I would say feel free to party, because the idea for Midsummer Night’s Dream is that there’s a party going on in the woods, so the second you see us starting to party come join us! Dance with us. It’s going to be silly and out there, so just enjoy that. And be prepared to be surprised. It’s not your average sit-and-watch play.
Brian LaPerche is Midsummer Night’s Dream director and KCST president. Alison Goldberg is Midsummer production manager and KCST treasurer. Gerard Ramm is a KCST actor playing role of Bottom.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Pathetic fallacy via Wikimedia Commons