Michael Joseph, Alexis Barudin, Daleal Monjazeb, Athena Bardonnex, Jenna Gill and Cameron Le (from left) star in the VIU theatre department production of ‘A Drama Class’s Dream.’ (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Michael Joseph, Alexis Barudin, Daleal Monjazeb, Athena Bardonnex, Jenna Gill and Cameron Le (from left) star in the VIU theatre department production of ‘A Drama Class’s Dream.’ (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

VIU theatre students return to the stage with modern Shakespeare adaptation

‘A Drama Class’s Dream’ is VIU theatre department’s first production since March 2020

Vancouver Island University drama students are returning to the Malaspina Theatre stage with an original play that puts a modern twist on Shakespeare.

From Oct. 14 to 16 the VIU theatre department presents A Drama Class’s Dream, by VIU theatre professor Ross Desprez.

The play is inspired by a subplot in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which a group of inept amateur actors put on a play to be performed at the duke’s wedding.

In Desprez’s reimagining, the characters are all theatre students who will fail their class unless they stage a scene from Shakespeare for their professor. When they open their big book of Shakespeare plays, the students release a spirit that transforms them into the theatre troupe from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This is the theatre department’s first production since staging William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead in March 2020. Last year classes were held online due to COVID-19, which Desprez said was difficult.

“Most of it was done on Zoom last year, which was really challenging trying to teach acting in Zoom,” Desprez said. “We had to re-jig everything that we do so that we could try and make it work.”

He said “it’s so great to be back in the theatre” after such an absence and his students agree.

“This is the first time I’ve done a full show on stage since COVID and the experience has been amazing,” said cast member Jenna Gill, who plays the director of the play-within-a-play. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I did this.”

Although the play draws heavily from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Desprez said knowledge of the source material isn’t required of viewers.

“It’s not written in iambic pentameter or anything,” he said. “The language is a lot easier to understand.”

Student Daleal Monjazeb plays a character whose head is magically transformed into that of a donkey. He said he’s never performed any Shakespeare before, but A Drama Class’s Dream is a suitable play for those new to the Bard.

“To people who don’t know Shakespeare [who are] watching it, it’s a good intro into Shakespeare,” Monjazeb said. “Besides Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo + Juliet. I mean that’s just fantastic”

WHAT’S ON … VIU theatre department presents A Drama Class’s Dream at Malaspina Theatre, VIU Bldg. 310, on Oct. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 16 at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets $10, $5 for students, available here.

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