Shakespeare at The MAC a ‘Dream’ come true for Open Arts

Fairy King and Queen Oberon and Titania (Gareth Smyth and Michelle Porter), in their enchanted forest ahead of Open Arts 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at The MAC.
Fairy King and Queen Oberon and Titania (Gareth Smyth and Michelle Porter), in their enchanted forest ahead of Open Arts 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at The MAC.

Open Arts will be stepping into the spotlight at The MAC next month for a special production of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

On Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27, audiences will be transported to a magical forest world to meet the fairy king and queen Oberon and Titania and their mischievous servant, Puck, who creates unintentional havoc for two lovestruck couples with the aid of a magic potion.

Adding to the comedic chaos are the motley crew of The Mechanicals (including, in this adaptation, a librarian, a DJ and a rugby coach) performing the famous ‘play within a play’ and poor Bottom, whose head gets magically transformed into that of an ass, creating all the necessary ingredients for an hilarious story of order and disorder, reality and appearance and love and marriage.

Presented by the award-winning arts and disability charity Open Arts, this special event will showcase the drama, dance, choral, visual art, creative writing and traditional Javanese Gamelan melodic percussion skills of up to 65 group members who have a range of disabilities: physical, sensory, learning disabilities and mental health illness.

Open Arts is principally funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and receives Core Multi-Annual Funding from Belfast City Council’s Tourism Culture & Arts Unit.

The vision of Open Arts is of a world where people with and without disabilities engage together in high quality arts activities that promote creativity, increase artistic excellence, nurture and inspire them, to achieve beyond expectations.

Open Arts’ mission is to engage with disabled people in delivering high quality activities and events across a range of art forms. The organisation does this by promoting artistic excellence and encouraging the participation of people with and without disabilities. It was established in 1992 as a limited company with charitable status, it ran as a research project before that from 1988.

Speaking earlier this month, Eileen Branagh, Chief Executive of Open Arts said: “Given that it is national Shakespeare Week this week, we are especially delighted to be launching our unique adaptation of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The MAC, one of Northern Ireland’s leading arts venues.

“This ambitious production is the result of almost two years’ work by Open Arts participants and tutors and it promises to be an unforgettable celebration of creativity and inclusivity.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “Open Arts is a remarkable arts organisation and is vital, not least because it provides opportunities for people with disabilities to access and participate in the arts, but also because it provides a platform for people to make friends, to learn new skills and to increase confidence and self-esteem.

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this terrific organisation, through National Lottery funding, and I look forward to seeing the energy, commitment and creativity that the cast will bring to their take on ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.’

Tickets for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ are priced £10/£8 and are on sale now from The MAC box office at https://themaclive.com/ or tel. 028 90235053.