Annual Shakespeare festival puts a new twist on old comedy

Joshua Fisher, Reporter

Theater buffs and fans gathered over the weekend for the 33rd annual Kern Shakespeare Festival. “Shakespeare has done more than any playwright ever in the entire world,” says festival co-founder Bob Kempf after the Friday Night’s viewing of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” directed by Brian Sivesind.

Sivesind takes the spotlight at this year’s Shakespeare festival with his rendition of Shakespeare’s classic.

“I’m out of the picture now,” said former director and festival co-founder Randall Messick standing next to Kempf during the play. Messick has always directed the plays that appear in the festival, but retired from the job last year.

What stood out beyond the play itself was the elaborate burning man model that stood on the stage.

“I was talking to my wife about it, and we asked ourselves where do people go to escape? Where do people go to discover themselves? Or to be free? Well I had a buddy from grad school who would go to the Burning Man Festival every year and post all this stuff on Facebook about the experience,” said Sivesind.

After he got the idea, he began doing research and decided to run with it, even created the model with a space for actors to enter and exit through.

Attendee Austin McLain said, “Every time that they changed scenes the burning man would light up and you couldn’t even tell how they were getting inside that thing.”

Another thing that the audience found interesting were the costumes. Raven Chavez, father of one of the actresses said, “I’ve seen the play during rehearsals and it was way better with the costumes.”

The fairies were supposed to stand out, some were dressed like hippies, others were dressed Goth, or punk rock. But the Humans of the play were very modernly dressed with a tie and suitcase. “There is only two scenes in the city so we did that with modern clothing. It made everything simple,” said Sivesind.

One thing that both the audience and the actors and actresses enjoyed during the viewings was that the play capitalized on is its promiscuity. Each of the actors had on their own specially designed scantily-clad attire and everyone looked very unique and alluring.

Ryan Lee, who plays Lysander, said one thing that gets a reaction is when he gets to show “his best side” (meaning his backside) during one of the flirting scenes.

The Shakespeare festival has been around for 33 years, but has not been without its struggles. The festival was canceled in 2009, only to be resurrected in 2010 by alumni of the festival, who staged it at the Empty Space Theatre in town.