A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A Fitting Farewell To Brisbane Arts Theatre's Iconic Venue

'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
Solar-powered journalist with a love for live reviews and the challenge of describing sounds with words. Always: cooking, often: thrifting, sometimes: playing the piano, rarely: social, never: late. Living abroad in Japan.

Riddle us this: What do the following six phrases have in common? ‘Too much of a good thing.’ ‘A heart of gold.’ ‘Break the ice.’ ‘Lie low.’ ‘I’ll wear my heart upon my sleeve.’ ‘Dead as a doornail.’

The answer?

“Each one is a Shakespeare quote!” laughs Theatre Director, Nicky Whichelow.

“It just shows that even though many people think Shakespearean is a ‘static’ language, most of us are probably using it every day.”

Nicky is part of Brisbane Arts Theatre – an iconic, independent company founded in 1936, famed for both its productions and for operating as a training organisation to support emerging artists and future industry professionals.

“It used to be called Brisbane Amateur Theatre, but I’ve never known such professionalism and commitment. It’s the most inclusive, respectful, tolerant and caring bunch of people.”

The company recently announced it was parting ways with its Petrie Terrace premises, closing the curtains on 70 years of rich history.

“This reminds me of a poem: ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep, for I am not there’. Yes, we’re connected to the building. We’ve got people who met and married their spouses there. We’ve got people who started on stage there when they were seven years old, and now they’re 35-40. There’s a LOT of emotional history there. But the attachment to each other trumps the attachment to the venue,” Nicky affirms.

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“I’ve recently been appointed to the company board, which is so exciting – we're currently working on strategic direction and planning the next steps to take our productions out into the community.”

Nicky is directing Brisbane Arts Theatre’s final play at the beloved location – Shakespeare's ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

“People often compare it to 'Romeo & Juliet', given it's a story about love. Shakespeare mentions ‘love’ 2,476 times in his work – he is FASCINATED by love,” Nicky divulges. “The plot is very simple: events go wrong, there are ridiculous complications, and then, events go right. It’s one of his most interesting works, in my opinion.”

Although the script was written more than 400 years ago, Nicky insists that many of its themes remain relevant.

“He covered so many modern topics with great intuition and great insight,” she says.

“There are a lot of famous quotes in the play, such as: ‘The course of true love never did run smooth.’ ‘Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.’ And my favourite, ‘And though she be but little, she is fierce.’”

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For those who feel intimidated by the complexities of Shakespearean language. . .

“Don’t be, it is not a barrier, nor is it problematic,” Nicky assures. “Just sit back, enjoy the fun, and go with the flow – I can assure you it is SO obvious what is happening on stage. It helps that I’m working with a wonderful team of actors who are experts in telling the story.”

'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' is the Brisbane Arts Theatre’s MOST performed Shakespeare production, gracing the stage SEVEN times since 1944. Nicky says the play feels like a fitting way to round off the company’s 70-year history at Petrie Terrace.

“What’s important to remember is that Shakespeare’s plays have NO stage directions,” she adds.

“And that allows for people from all origins, race, gender, or age to come together and tell the story. This gives great directorial freedom – I have been in, seen and directed around ten COMPLETELY different versions of this play. It’s a TRUE collaboration between director, actors, set build, costumes, and sound. And the magic that this team has pulled together is just, wow. I cannot wait.”

'A Midsummer Night's Dream' plays Brisbane Arts Theatre 4 May-1 June. This will be the final Brisbane Arts Theatre production at the iconic Petrie Terrace venue.

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