Courtesy of Jenny Graham.
PlayMakers Repertory Company’s productions of “Into the Woods” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” have been in rotating repertory since Nov. 1. PlayMakers added an additional performance to “Into the Woods” by popular demand.
Staff writer Elizabeth Baker spoke with Joseph Haj, PlayMakers’ producing artistic director, about both the success of the two plays, which are scheduled to stop running Dec. 7 , and the conclusion of the company’s 2014 season.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: How have the two shows — “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Into the Woods” — been going?
JOSEPH HAJ: The community response has been unbelievable to both of them.
It’s been so fun to have the theater absolutely packed night after night after night. It’s just been a real delight. Each of these productions are so strong. The community is really responding to the two of them being placed in conversation with each other.
DTH: And you added more shows because of popular demand?
JH: We added a performance on Saturday, Nov. 29, for “Into the Woods” because it was selling so incredibly well.
I think they’re both really strong productions — but I really think it’s a very special “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I think many of us know the play or think that we know the play, and it’s such a wonderfully, wonderfully unique production that I hope people take the opportunity to come see it.
DTH: What do you think the audiences are enjoying the most in these plays?
JH: My guess is, if you were to poll the audiences, the responses would be very individuated. Both of the plays, they are about coming of age, they’re about loss of innocence, they’re about love, they’re about finding meaning and finding one’s way through the world and in the world. The woods stand as a metaphor for where we get lost in order to find ourselves and our way. That’s so universal, it’s deeply held by all of us. I think they respond to the themes in these two plays.
DTH: Have you faced any challenges putting these shows on simultaneously?
JH: It’s an enormous challenge. There are two huge casts — only five actors are in both plays. We had two rehearsal rooms going at all times. The musical of course requires a band as well and a music director and a choreographer. The logistical challenge of rehearsing both of these plays was enormous.
DTH: Have you learned anything from this process that you’re going to keep in mind for future shows?
JH: No, I wouldn’t put it that way. I don’t think I’ve learned something that tells me what to do in terms of programming future shows. I look at the larger tapestry of the season.
So far, we’ve done our Summer Youth Conservatory, which was a production of “Hairspray” with youth from 17 area high schools over the summer.
And then we brought Roger Guenveur Smith’s brilliant, searing “Rodney King” into our second stage. It happened only a few weeks after the events in Ferguson, Mo., and it seems such an important play to be in a room and create a community dialogue at that moment.
And then we opened our main stage season with “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” in what I thought was a really beautiful production. And now the rotating rep of these two plays, and then we’ll move into “Wrestling Jerusalem.”
I look at how plays fit into the larger fabric of the season. I’ve been really thrilled with these two plays for how they fit into the overall arc of the season. It makes me very excited for the shows we have coming up.