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Reduxion Theatre Company presents a Shakespeare classic


  • David Bricquet

Reduxion Theatre Company has summoned an assortment of lovers, lords, ladies, fairies and a donkey for your amusement and enjoyment this Valentine’s Day season with its production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“We like to give our patrons a date night in February,” said Erin Woods, Reduxion’s co-founder and managing director. “It’s an annual event for us. We always do something romantic around Valentine’s Day, and usually it’s something by Shakespeare.”

Modern twists

“We love to take a classical script and then do something innovative and unexpected with it,” Woods said.

One unexpected twist to this classic comedy play is that it’s set in Athens in the 1960s.

“We want people to see the play as they’ve never seen it before,” Woods said. “The idea is that the play is about the spirit of youth, and the 1960s were largely driven by youth. There were so many changes within that decade — changes in culture, music, dress. You’ll see everything from Mad Men to Woodstock.”

Jeffrey Meek, resident costume designer for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, joined Reduxion to create an ambitious array of costumes for this production. His work complements the scene design by Oklahoma artist Aubrey Jernigan.

Reduxion’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream might remind some of rock musical Hair, Woods said, but the script remains true to Shakespeare’s original story.

It’s a charming play with simultaneous storylines involving humans and fairies. The dreamlike flight of fancy follows events surrounding the marriage of Hippolyta and Theseus, Duke of Athens. There’s also a full-throttle fairy feud underway between the king and queen of Fairyland, whose argument involves, in part, a fairy-child changeling. The comedy also highlights the adventures of four young lovers, a man with the head of a donkey and a gender-bending cast.

The cast features Reduxion company actors David Bricquet, Mariah Webb, Jessa Schinske, Nicholas Toscani, Mariah Warren, Caleb Yen, Leonard Jackson, Zoe Settle, Gracie Lewis, Katy Hirsch, Joanne Hoch and Abigail LaFont.

No puppeteer

Reduxion Theatre Company was formed in New York City by Woods and her husband Tyler in 2005 and has produced shows locally since 2008. Tyler is the group’s artistic director.

Erin Woods grew up in Oregon. After attending college in California, she transferred to the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) to pursue a degree in theater.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a puppeteer, an actress and a business woman. I was raised on 1980s power movies like Baby Boom,” she said. “In a roundabout way, I’ve gotten to do those things, although not puppetry. I never learned puppetry.”

Tyler Woods was pursuing his second bachelor’s degree, this one in theater, at UCO around 1999. The two became friends, married in 2005 and headed to the Big Apple.

“We were doing great work in New York City,” Erin Woods said. “We produced shows in Midtown, right off Times Square. In those days, it was called ‘off-off Broadway,’ but now, it’s often called ‘independent theater.’”

But fate once again summoned change for the pair.

“Someone with deadCENTER [Film Festival] said, ‘Well, that’s great, but you know we really need something like that in Oklahoma, and there are so many theater companies in New York,’” Erin Woods said. “So we decided to come back.”

Tyler Woods applied for 501(c)(3) status, and soon, Reduxion was up and running as a nonprofit organization. Today, the theater group is a fixture in Oklahoma’s performing arts landscape. Last year, Tyler Woods earned a Governor’s Arts Award for community service.

Reduxion offers education opportunities in addition to each season’s roster of shows. Classics for Kids, 45-minute programs designed for 3- to 10-year-olds, delivers the Bard’s gospel to youths at schools and libraries.

“We’ll do at least 22 shows in libraries and nine in schools, and we’ll accept additional bookings until our schedule is full,” Erin Woods said. “Theater has the potential to change lives because it’s about communication, person-to-person. … It’s about community coming together, and it can be an almost religious experience for people because it transcends the individual.”

Print headline: Dream theater, Reduxion Theatre Company adds a ’60s twist to Shakespeare’s classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

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