A Midsummer Night’s Dance:
A Review of a Brazilian adaptation of A Midsummer’s Night Dream
Dance is a common form of expression, especially in Brazilian culture. Fagundes, the director of the Portuguese adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Produced by Cia Rústica), creates a unique version of Shakespeare’s play. Her adaptation illustrates the sexual and romantic themes through intense and exotic dance numbers, which effectively replace wordy dialogue.
The play is about a dispute between a father and daughter over which man she should marry. Hermia, the daughter, desires Lysander. The father wishes she would desire Demetrius, who is desired by another woman, Helena. There are many twists and turns in the comedic plot, involving fairies and love spells, which ultimately ends with everyone happily married.
Fagundes transforms the play from a traditional acting style to a modern and fun form of entertainment, by using dance, rather than simply using language, to express emotionally dense scenes.
Although Portuguese speakers would be the primary audience, the dancing helps an audience of any language understand the plot because dance is an emotional form of communication that is standard across all cultures and languages.
The numerous ballroom dances between lovers, Hermia and Lysander, reflect their romance as they flowed together with every step in sync. The only time their steps were out of sync was when a love spell made Lysander love Helena instead.
The music was of an upbeat tempo and the actors/dancers were light on their toes, which kept the plot moving. Each change in scene also presented a change in music and thus, a change in dance. The production implemented music that collaborated with the dynamic plot by the changing the pace to parallel the particular sentiment of each scene.
During one of the most crucial turns of the plot, when both men love Helena, there is a fiery samba that intensifies the tension between the two women and the tension between the two men. They form a square, each person taking position in a corner with the females standing opposite of one another. The square depicts the balance of the plot, as it shows there are an even number of men and women. This moment and the rest of the choreography of the play was clear evidence that the director understood the romantic themes and outcomes of the plot. The scene is crucial to the story and regardless of whether or not the audience knows what the actors are saying, the conflict is apparent and understood.
In addition, the costumes were light and airy which contributed to the light-hearted tone of the production. Demetrius and Lysander both wore white suits; their only obvious difference in costume was the hat that Lysander wore and Demetrius did not. Helena and Hermia both wore white dresses that flowed as they moved their hips in dance.
Oberon, the king of the fairies, and his servant, Puck, were the only two characters not dressed in white or a vivid color; they were dressed in black. The choice of costume separated the groups of characters in the plot. Those dressed in black were the manipulators and essentially controlled the plot, while those dressed in the other colors were the characters under the control of Oberon and Puck.
The production was comedic and triggered giggles from the audience at various moments. The wedding scene, when Pyramus and Thisbe was performed, was particularly hysterical. Pyramus and Thisbe was portrayed similarly to the way that Michael Hoffman portrayed it in his 1999 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hoffman and Fagundes accentuate the hilarity of the scene with actors of exceptional clumsiness and exaggerated ignorance. Fagundes differs from Hoffman in this particular scene by adding music and dance to the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, successfully making the scene even more playful.
The fun music, the frivolous costumes, and the passionate dance pieces all supported the themes of love, romance, and a happy ending, which made this production an idealized portrayal of Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Katie Haller is a second year at Ohio State University. She is originally from Delaware, Ohio and is studying Strategic Communication. In her free time she enjoys reading and going on long runs.
My favorite Shakespeare play is Hamlet because of all the influence it has had on popular culture!