HAYWARD, Calif. — At Chabot College, theater professor Dov Hassan has taken Shakespeare’s classic comedy, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and given it a contemporary twist.
In Hassan’s version, the mischievous fairies of the forest are portrayed as cyberpunk ravers with neon-accented outfits and hair. These fairies, led by the impish Puck, played by Nikky Griffiths, wreak havoc on the lives of the four young lovers who find themselves lost in the enchanted woods. Demetrius, Hermia, Helena and Lysander, played by Nazario Ayala, Shanna Prasad, Jasmin Tejeda and Amarion Tidwell, respectively, are swept up in the fairies’ world, leading to all manner of shenanigans.
Hassan sees Shakespeare as a master fantasy fiction writer, and his contemporary vision for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” draws comparisons to the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Hassan noted that both stories follow a group of young people who find themselves in an upside-down world controlled by supernatural forces and strange creatures beyond their understanding. This inspiration is clearly reflected in the costume design, with the main characters dressed as modern-day college students wearing backpacks. However, to retain the play’s magical element, the king and queen of the fairies, Oberon and Titania, played by Kel Rama and Kaitlin Cruey, are adorned in exquisite Elizabethan costumes.
The set design for the production is equally impressive, as Stage One Theater is transformed into a mystical forest with wispy, twisted trees and a glowing full moon. The hoots of owls and chirps of crickets greet the audience as they enter. The use of lighting to create shadows and eerie atmospheres is reminiscent of the acclaimed director Tim Burton, adding depth and drama to the already spellbinding show.
This rendition of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” offers a much-needed update to the classic, making it relevant and exciting for a new generation of theatergoers who may not be fluent in the language of the late 16th century. By infusing the play with modern elements while retaining its timeless fantasy elements, Hassan has created a production that is accessible, engaging and truly enchanting.
The play runs through the end of the week, with performances at 4 p.m. today, and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The final show at 4 p.m. on Sunday will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person. Tickets are selling fast, Hassan said, so be sure to secure yours as soon as possible.
Head to the Chabot Theater Arts website to find out more or buy tickets.