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Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' comes to Yosemite — for free

Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' comes to Yosemite — for free
Production members address the audience from the stage in the shadow of Half Dome. (Shawn Overton)

You may have hiked Half Dome, photographed Horsetail Fall and even slept in a tent cabin, but have you seen Shakespeare in Yosemite?

That is the question.

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In honor of Earth Day (April 22) and Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be presented in Yosemite National Park for free.

Shakespeare scholars Katherine Steele Brokaw, a professor at UC Merced, and Paul Prescott, a professor at England's University of Warwick, have adapted the play to fit the backdrop of Yosemite.

The pair stumbled upon the park's Lower River Amphitheater while walking through Yosemite Valley one day. Both had the same thought: Wouldn't it be magical to perform Shakespeare here?

As in the 2017 production of Shakespeare in Yosemite, the production uses the park as a backdrop for performances.
As in the 2017 production of Shakespeare in Yosemite, the production uses the park as a backdrop for performances. (Shawn Overton)

In their production, Hippolyta and Theseus and their friends, including four lovers and a disgruntled mother, head to Yosemite National Park to get married.

When disagreements and passions lead the lovers to escape into the backcountry, they encounter the wonders of the natural world.

The play also has an environmental edge.

"All the costumes and props will be made from used and recycled materials," Brokaw said. "And we plan to construct the fairy wings out of trash that's been left in the park to really emphasize the ways in which all of us are responsible for the problems of the natural world, and it's up to us to fix them."

The cast includes Lisa Wolpe, founder of the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company; and Devon Glover, a.k.a. the Sonnet Man, a hip-hop artist known for reworking Shakespeare into rap.

"It's a thrill to perform in Yosemite National Park," Brokaw said. "To be doing Shakespeare's beloved comedy — with all its comedy and poetry and love — with a terrific cast in front of Half Dome: How does it get better than that?"

The free, 90-minute production is open to all park visitors.

Performances will be held:

— 2 p.m. April 20 to 22 at the Lower River Amphitheater and

— 5:30 p.m. April 20 and 21 at the Half Dome Village Amphitheater

For more information, visit Shakespeare in Yosemite.

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