For one of the first times in the history of Alexandra Palace, audiences will be invited to venture down into the cavernous basements for an immersive performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a new production from experiential theatre experts RIFT.
Using the eerie atmosphere of this unique location, RIFT will create a liminal dreamscape that provides the setting for the play. Beginning on the eve of the first TV broadcast, the myriad of characters will steal through distorted tv studios and into live streams with the lovers, fairies and players ebbing and flowing throughout the space, followed closely by the audience.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream will allow audiences to explore a rarely accessed area of the building, steeped in history and dating back almost 150 years. The basements have survived two devastating fires and housed 18,000 internees during the First World War, their original features are still evident and historical relics still remain to this day.
Conceived and directed by Felix Mortimer and Joshua Nawras (co-founders of RIFT) with associate directors Rob Myles and Thomas Bostock the cast features Michael Adams (Oberon), Daniel Booroff (Snug), Sam Ducane (Demetrius), Lowri James (Titania), Henry Maynard (Bottom), Penelope Maynard (Quince), Rob Myles (Puck), Phoebe Naughton (Helena), Stanton Plummer-Cambridge (Flute), Dewi Sarginson (Hermia) and Ben Teare (Lysander). With designs by Katharine Heath and Jasper Sutherland, costume design by Hilary McCool, choreography by Emma Farnell-Watson and musical consultation by Theo Bard.
RIFT’s previous Shakespeare productions include The Tempest (O Brave New World) staged in an East London shop and a Macbeth performed overnight at Balfron Tower in Poplar. Their interpretations use formal experimentation to get under the skin of classic plays, to lay them bare and explore them from the inside.
Louise Stewart, Alexandra Palace chief executive, says: “We can’t wait to welcome people into the basement and see the cast in action in this amazing space. It’s one of the charity’s aims to open up more areas of the Palace for people to enjoy to make the most of these heritage spaces, but to do so sensitively and in ways that will stimulate and exhilarate, like this production with Rift undoubtedly will.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream can be seen in the Victorian basements of Alexandra Palace from 3rd – 28th September.