A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Traci Redmond playing Puck (photo by Tiffany Hagler Geard)

Staging a Shakespearean ‘Dream’ for a Sustainable Future

Among the summer perennials is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare’s comedy about lovers – mythological, magical and prosaic – at cross-purposes in a sylvan setting. Adapted myriad times, it lends itself as most of the Bard does to an array of interpretations.

But it’s fair to say it has never been adapted in quite in the same way that River’s Edge Theatre Co. has done for its four upcoming performances in Ossining at Bethany Arts Community on July 20 and 21.

For the environmentally minded, the five-year-old Hastings-on-Hudson-based River’s Edge, has crafted Homegrown Shakespeare, a production steeped in sustainability. Thus far, each member of the cast has rehearsed alone, fashioning their own costume and props – to say nothing of a character – made of materials at hand, including recycled items. Cast and crew will come together for only one tech rehearsal, in which lighting rather than a production design will set the scene. The idea is to use Shakespeare’s most bucolic play as a metaphor for a small carbon footprint.

“We’re encouraging them not to buy anything,” says Meghan Covington, the company’s co-founder, artistic director and president. “Everything should be found in the home or borrowed.”

While the River’s Edge repertoire usually focuses on new and experimental works in its approximately 400-square-foot space that seats 25 to 30, and other venues – this is the first time the company has staged Shakespeare – it is by no means a stranger to societal themes.

“All of our productions delve into different social issues,” Covington adds. “It could be climate change, LGBTQ issues, bullying, gun control. Often we give back to other nonprofits.”

Indeed, 10% of the proceeds from the performances will go to the Yonkers-based Groundwork Hudson Valley, which, according to the website, “creates sustainable, environmental change in urban neighborhoods through community-based partnerships that promote equity, youth leadership and economic opportunity.”

With Dream, Covington says: “our goal is to present a metaphor for sustainable living and inspire patrons.”

Covington has been a professional actor for almost 20 years. Her credits include The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co., The Shakespeare Theatre, Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center, all in Washington, D.C.; and Firehouse Theatre, Richmond Shakespeare Festival and The Theatre Lab in Richmond, Virginia. She was also a member of Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia. While there, Covington ran Synetic’s Education and Outreach department, where she taught acting, dance and pantomime skills to children and adults in classroom, workshop and camp settings.  

Although Covington and husband David, who is co-founder and treasurer of River’s Edge, hail from the Washington, D.C., area, they met in New York. With a long list of performance and management credits, David has served in a variety of capacity at City College of New York and is now executive director of CCNY’s Alumni Association. The couple, who have three girls, make their home in Ardsley.

“It is,” she said, “a labor of love.” And not, as the Bard would have it, “Love’s Labour’s Lost.”

Photo credit: Traci Redmond playing Puck (photo by Tiffany Hagler Geard)

About Georgette Gouveia

Winner of ArtsWestchester’s 2023 President’s Award for her 45-year career as an arts journalist, Georgette Gouveia is cultural writer and luxury editor for Westfair Communications Inc.’s Westfair Business Journal and News at Noon e-newsletter (westfaironline.com). She is also the author of the blog and book series at thegamesmenplay.com.

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