‘And though she be but little, she is fierce’: Sweet Briar Theatre to stage ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Oct. 24-27

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Janika Carey

Sweet Briar Theatre Shakespeare Sweet Briar Theatre’s 1990 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Sweet Briar Theatre will stage Shakespeare’s beloved comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, through Saturday, Oct. 26, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, in Murchison Lane Auditorium in the Babcock Fine Arts Center at Sweet Briar College.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Oct. 14, and are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for non-SBC students and free for Sweet Briar faculty, staff, students, alumnae and retired faculty and staff. Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at 434-381-6120 or online at sbc.tix.com.

Professor of Theatre William Kershner says this marks the first time in his long career that he has chosen a play twice. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was last performed at Sweet Briar in 1990. It’s a fun comedy, of course, with “one of the funniest scenes ever written,” Kershner said. But the main reason he picked it again in 2019 is its special resonance for the Sweet Briar community. Not only does the play mention the sweet briar rose, it also contains a famous quote cited over and over again by countless alumnae — and printed on T-shirts and other merchandise — since the College’s near-closure and subsequent fight to save it: “O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd! She was a vixen when she went to school; And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Kershner said he wanted to “teach people where the quote comes from.” To emphasize that connection and celebrate Sweet Briar women’s fierce spirit, the performance will include a surprise element.

There’s something else, too: The cast will be all-female. “This is the first time I have ever done Shakespeare this way,” Kershner admitted, adding that he wanted to stress the play’s theme of reconciliation: “We’re sending a 21st-century message about the importance of equality.”

Another thing Kershner is excited about is how many first-years showed up to get involved in the theater program this year. Consequently, his cast includes a lot of new faces.

Theseus/Oberon is portrayed by Amelia Brooke Burnett ’20, while Hippolyta/Titania is played by Mary Parker ’21. Philostrate is played by Catherine Wiggins ’23, Egeus by Anna Davis ’20, Hermia by Macey Stearns ’20, Helena  by Mary Grace Williams ’20, Lysander by Taylor Watson ’20 and Demetrius by Rachel Partington ’20. Other cast members include Jordan Sack ’20 (Peter Quince), Kaylin Patterson ’21 (Flute), Kate Galbreath ’20 (Starveling), Phoenix Brown ’20 (Nick Bottom), Beth Kidd ’22 (Snug), Shifti Kamal ’20 (Snout), Haylei Libran ’20 (Robin Goodfellow, or Puck), Cassandra Munford ’22 (The First Fairy), Avery Lewis ’23 (Moth), Meaghan Phister ’20 (Mustardseed), Willow Litchford ’23 (Cobweb), Dakota Sargent ’23 (Peaseblossom) and Margie Heath ’21 (Fairy).

The play is directed by Kershner, with Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Cheryl Warnock serving as technical director. Lauren Phillips ’23 serves as stage manager and Amanda Jenkins ’23 is assistant stage manager. Williams is the assistant director. The crew also includes theater program graduate Molly Harper ’13, ’20 as costume designer. Sack, Stearns, Wiggins, Litchford, Karlynn McCarthy ’20 and Erin Bell Nelson ’23 are on the costume crew. Sara Jane Grubb ’20 serves as prop master and gets help from Leighann Sims ’23, Jesseca Ballard ’23 and Megan Conley ’23. Libran is the master electrician, heading up Rose Murphy ’22, Lorelei Cruz ’23, Ellie Mason ’23, Stearns and Davis. Nora Florio ’21 is the sound crew head, while Iris Williams ’22 operates the sound board. Sack is in charge of the program and publicity, while Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Melora Kordos takes care of the poster design and ticketing. Kylene Hayslett serves as photographer.

For more information, email Kershner at kershner@sbc.edu.