WAAPA acting alumnus Trent Baker was surprised to learn he would be working with second year music theatre rather than acting students when invited to direct a reimagining of Shakespeare favourite A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“From what I could tell, not a lot of them have done much Shakespeare before, which I got really excited about because it’s always good to get newbies,” Baker said.
“I’m taking advantage of the fact they can obviously sing and dance in the show.
“Shakespeare has lyrics in his original play and we’ve kind of ignored those and put others in that serve the characters better.”
Now based in Melbourne, Baker grew up in Thornlie and Armadale, graduated from WAAPA in 1996 and said returning had been a joyous experience, despite the touch of anxiety walking the halls where he was once critiqued.
Baker, who has trained at The Globe Theatre in London, said his reimagining of the classic had forgone the cliched fairies, replacing them with an unexpected alternative.
“The production is one based around the primacy of the actor, so the focus is on the actor, the text and the audience,” he said.
“I’ve given the fairies a Viking feel, making them something that was ‘other’, that was not the course.
“I’ve gone for a preppy kind of feel for the young lovers, with jumpers tied around their neck, so I wanted a very primitive opposite; they’ve all been studying an ancient Norse accent with their voice teacher.”
The production will be performed outdoors at WAAPA Amphitheatre from March 12 to 17, commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.
A season of Shakespeare tragedy Coriolanus will also be presented at WAAPA’s Roundhouse Theatre from March 11 to 17 by third year acting students.
“I think Shakespeare would be shocked, in a good way, to know his plays are still being performed,” Baker said.
“He wrote in a time where plays were like a soap opera, disposable; you wrote it, performed it and then it was gone.
“But love, jealousy, death, power; those things are all still pretty relevant.”
What: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Where: WAAPA Amphitheatre
When: March 12 to 17