3 actors in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Members of Huntsville Shakespeare’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” left to right, Larkin Plaks as Bottom, Becca Westbrook as Titania and Alex Lopez-Rogina as Moth, rehearse for performances at the Huntsville Botanical Garden on Aug 11 and 19, 2023. This theater company at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) will also stage “Henry V” at the garden on Aug. 12 and 18, 2023.
Courtesy Christopher Baker

Love and war in various forms will fill the stage when Huntsville Shakespeare (Huntsville Shakes) presents “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Henry V” at the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s outdoor amphitheater today and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, and Aug. 18-19 at 7:30 p.m. Huntsville Shakes was founded in 2018 in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System.

“Our ultimate goal has always been to create a summer Shakespeare tradition for Huntsville where families can enjoy live theater,” says Amy Guerin, associate professor of theater at UAH. She is co-founder and co-artistic director of Huntsville Shakes along with Dr. Chad Thomas, chair of the UAH English department and an associate professor of Shakespeare and dramatic literature.

“When the Huntsville Botanical Garden approached us about performing in the amphitheater, the opportunity was too good to pass up,” she says. “The outdoor setting is perfect for these two plays.”

Deborah Gerhardt, Huntsville Botanical Garden’s hospitality services administrative and sales support coordinator, agrees about the perfect setting: “We joined hands with UAH, hoping to foster artistic endeavors within the growing Huntsville community, as well as showcasing and sharing the splendor of Huntsville Botanical Garden.”

Romantic love, love between friends, even love of power all run rampant in Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” where a few hapless humans find themselves mixed up in a battle among the fairy folk. Only in this magical forest could a peasant be transformed into a donkey and catch the eye of the fairy queen. Performances are today and Aug. 19.

Love of power and country and the bonds of comrades in arms figure into the Bard’s historical drama “Henry V” on Saturday and Aug. 18. Set before and after the Battle of Agincourt between England and France in 1415, this play explores what it means to be a patriot, a hero and a king.

The productions feature local and regional professional actors. “Henry V” also includes students from the Lee High School Magnet Program – four actors and two working with costumes.

Both plays will be staged in 90-minute family-friendly versions. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each for Botanical Garden members and $30 for non-members.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is close to selling out, but a few more tickets are available for “Henry V.” Guerin notes that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is an audience favorite.

“We decided to offer a greatest hit and a lesser known play,” she says. “We hope people will have so much fun that they’ll come back and bring their friends.”

For more information, visit Huntsville Shakes or email huntsvilleshakespeare@uah.edu.