For me his greatest strength is in his unflinching look at human nature and the human condition and that doesn't change.
—Debbie Patterson, director
Shakespeare in the Ruins is taking A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night's Dream to Central Park in downtown Winnipeg. It's all part of trying to make Shakespeare more accessible and appealing to a general audience.
Debbie Patterson made the one-hour adaptation of the play involving just four characters.
"Since the very beginning of Shakespeare in the Ruins we've put a lot of effort into making sure that the text is clear, making sure it's really easy to understand," she says. "Another way of making it accessible is this stripped down thing, so that we can tour it to schools and make it available to more people."
The six shows in Central Park will be free to the public.
"We want to make it available to everyone," she says, unable to hide her enthusiasm. "We think Shakespeare is amazing and we want to share our love of Shakespeare with other people.
"This park is also amazing. It serves such a unique community and it's seeing such a renaissance right now that it's just really exciting to get involved in this park."
Patterson says it's important to have free activities downtown.
"There's often music in the park, and dance, so I think theatre is an important addition to that."
She is convinced that Shakespeare has something to say to audiences today.
"For me his greatest strength is in his unflinching look at human nature and the human condition and that doesn't change," she says. "So he uses beautiful words and poetic imagery to describe things that we all feel and I find that it elevates us to see ourselves reflected in this language."
Patterson recalls once giving free drama classes to clients of Winnipeg Harvest. She was surprised to find out that they all wanted to do Shakespeare. One of the women was reading the role of Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, who is desperate for Demetrius to love her. This woman came alive because she was really able to identify with the character, Pattterson says.
"This is a woman with not a lot of education, a woman who's had a really hard life and she totally recognized herself in this character," she says. "So I just think these plays are so accessible, so human and so relevant."
A Stripped-Down Midsummer Night's Dream will take place in Central Park with two shows daily from August 22 to 24 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m..
Shakespeare in the Ruins headed for Central Park