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‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ comes to life in Centennial Park

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is a summer staple for many Belmont students and Nashville residents, and this year, the festival features some of Belmont’s own talent.

Jaclynn Jutting, head of Belmont’s directing program, is directing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Paul Gatrell, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, is designing the set.

The show opened Thursday night and runs until Sept. 9 at Centennial Park. There is a $10 suggested donation for entry.

With this production, Jutting hopes to make Shakespeare more accessible to a modern audience.

“We’re striving to make sure it’s understood, relevant and that all of Nashville can see our own love stories reflected in the ones onstage. Life informs art, and art informs life,” Jutting said.

Jutting’s concept for the show is focused on the different types of love represented in the play.

“When I picked up ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ to start work on this classic, one of the first things that rose from the page was Shakespeare’s exploration of the variants of love,” Jutting said. “Everywhere I looked was love.”

While many of Shakespeare’s plays are based on historical events, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s more fantastical works. The play is set in Greece, and the Nashville production will be performed in Centennial Park, right next to the city’s very own replica of the Parthenon.

“Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s anniversary production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ brings Shakespeare’s fairy-filled Athens to ‘the Athens of the South,’” Jutting said.

Melissa Carlson, a senior directing major at Belmont, is working as Jutting’s assistant director for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Although she has worked with Jutting before, Carlson has appreciated the opportunity to develop their relationship as professional colleagues rather than teacher and student, she said.

Two other Belmont students are also working on the production as acting and directing apprentices, Jutting said.

“The training that Belmont offers them has been foundational to the terrific work that they are doing onstage,” she said.

This season marks the 30th anniversary of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

“Shakespeare in the Park is a Nashville tradition! It’s great for a date night or for a group of friends,” Carlson said. “Come early to enjoy the pre-show entertainment and all the awesome food trucks.”

Jutting especially appreciates the way it has become an intergenerational event, she said.

“People who have memories of attending the festival in their youth are now bringing their own families. It’s magical,” Jutting said. “Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”

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