Waltonland and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
David Everette as Puck
Mary Walton as Egeus
Nick Walton as Titania
Michael Walton as Oberon
By Parker Bowring
CEDAR CITY, Utah — “Friends, patriots, countrymen! Lend me your ears because obviously the rest of your bodies will not be in Cedar City this year. To go or not to go, that was the question for a while. But then we learned we Shakespeare lovers would have to entertain ourselves this summer” (Prologue of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Waltonland, read by Julie Humes).
The 2020 Utah Shakespeare Festival was not what any of us planned; but some people just need their Shakespeare hit! And the Walton family decided if they couldn’t go to the Festival, they would bring the Festival to them—into their own backyards.
To fill the void of a summer without theatre, Mary Walton, a faithful patron of the Festival, took matters into her own hands and with the help of her family created their own production of Shakespeare’s beloved A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In order to complete such a project, the play was split into seven parts and given to seven households to complete. Rose-Marie Walton, daughter of Mary Walton, took the script and cut it down to an hour.
“That turned out to be a lot harder than I thought! The plots are such a tangled web, woven together by the master, of course. And I had forgotten just how many wonderful lines are from this play” said Rose-Marie. Each family then began to bring A Midsummer Night’s Dream to life. In order to create the music for the play, James, Rose-Marie’s brother, did not act and instead dedicated his expertise to creating the perfect soundtrack.
Through family members (and dogs) acting skills, puppets, dolls and other toys, and clever drawings, then cutting and piecing it back together, the Waltons created a masterpiece that showcased their love of theatre and Shakespeare. The production turned out to be an hour long, full of laughs and bards. The Walton’s production stands as a testament to their love of theatre and how, even through uncertainty, there is joy.
In talking about feedback the Festival as received in this summer without plays, Donn Jersey, director of development and communications, said, “There is a common theme to all of the outreach we receive from our wonderful patrons: they miss us. The Waltons weren’t going to go a summer without Shakespeare, so they created their own production. It’s just wonderful, a really beautiful way to fill the hole caused by the current health crisis.”
What is incredible about this story is how people came together in a time of uncertainty and created something really special. In the process of creating their production, the Waltons discovered that even though they could not physically be at the Festival, they still were taking part in the age-old tradition of storytelling.
“Producing their very own production to stay connected to the art and the Festival just touches our hearts; what a beautiful way to let us know they miss us,” added Jersey. “We can’t wait to welcome the Waltons and so many other friends back to the Festival in 2021 to join in the fun of our sixtieth anniversary celebration.”
“The Festival is a tradition for our family. It is a wonderful chance to get away and be totally immersed in theatre,” said Rose-Marie. “We’re either at a seminar, at The Greenshow, at a play, or talking about the plays with each other. It is so fun to discuss the shows together, hear from the actors and directors, and watch actors perform multiple roles.”
“Being part of this family production was a lot of fun, especially seeing how ‘hammy’ everyone was,” she added. “I think it was a great outlet for creativity and silliness with all the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic. It also reminded me just how much work, time, and talent goes into even an amateur production. I think we will all appreciate next season’s productions even more because of our little midsummer adventure.”
For more information on plays or the Festival in general, and to order tickets for the 2021 season, visit the Festival’s website at bard.org or call 800-PLAYTIX