Interview by Alyson Eng for Broadway World
Published July 11, 2022
This summer, get a taste with one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Presented by Bard on the Beach at the BMO Mainstage in Vancouver, this play will “wow” audiences night after night until September 24th. Directed by Scott Bellis, this rendition of the famous play will leave audiences in awe with its magic, surprises, and costuming. This show joins the lineup of many outstanding theatre shows happening in Vancouver this summer and is definitely one to add to your list! We had the pleasure of speaking with cast member, Sarah Roa, who plays the role of Puck. We spoke about her thoughts on the show, her part, and the preparation process for the show. Read the full interview below!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a very popular Shakespeare play that has been performed many times. What sets Bard on the Beach’s rendition apart from the rest?
Sarah: This production leans in hard to magic, joy, and love by investing deeply within the darkness and heavier plot points of the story. What is brilliant about this production is that Scott Bellis, our director, adapted the script. With his additions, there are delightful surprises and more engaging character developments and relationships. The beauty of this production is the invitation for the audience to enter the magical realm, to take them on the journey through the forest from the first moment and end it with us the company, not the characters. I believe that within this production, anyone and everyone can find a moment to relate to, to be inspired by, and to feel included in.
What is the most exciting part about playing Puck? In particular, what are some of your favourite scenes that you are involved in?
Sarah: I have dreamt about playing Puck since I was a teenager. What I am most excited about is the opportunity to be working with this company, as one of my favorite Shakespearean characters. It is honestly a dream come true! Working with Scott has given me liberty to make Puck truly my own. With that freedom, I thought it would be interesting to have Puck speak another language. My family is from the Philippines and I grew up hearing both Tagalog and English. There are small moments within Puck’s journey where they speak Tagalog. This brings me utmost joy.
Apart from your character, which other character do you relate most to and why?
Sarah: I believe that I relate to Hippolyta the most. Hippolyta has found herself in a new city away from the community where she was most comfortable. At the beginning of the show, people are weary and uncomfortable with her presence in the court scene. By the end of the play, she has found her place in this new city and finds comfort within it. Why I feel like I can relate to her most is because I recall the first few weeks of rehearsal of this production and feeling a bit lost and out of place. This is my first season with Bard on the Beach and for a little while, I felt like I did not belong. I can say those feelings have dissipated and I am continuously grateful for the experience and the extraordinary humans I get to work and collaborate with.
What was the preparation like for your role and for the play? What was it like working with the other cast members?
Sarah: The fairy kingdom: Titania, Oberon, faeries, goblins and myself started with a dance/movement exploration before rehearsals officially started which was very informative for my Puck body. We worked with Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg, our choreographer, who would guide and encourage us in physical improvisation. What I love most about Tara is that she is an advocate for the philosophy that everybody is capable of dance and movement. Tara has the incredible talent of taking people’s movement vocabulary and creating something remarkable and not overly complicated.
I also have to acknowledge Tasha Faye Evans, our Creative Consultant, who is a fantastic creator, performer and human. Tasha also helped guide me towards the Puck you see onstage, with her expertise in physical theatre. I remember the first read through of the script with the ensemble and thinking, “how did I get into this room filled with so much passion and talent?” I feel like the luckiest human alive to have the privilege of working with each and every person on this show. As Puck, I am able to watch most of the show and I am constantly inspired by everyone and am witness to the growth from our first day in rehearsal.
After seeing the show, what do you hope people will remember or like most about the play?
Sarah: For nearly two years the theatre industry was shut down and not only was it a struggle for artists, but it was a terrifying time because many of us did not know how we could return safely or if our audiences would come back. With that, I hope that the impact of this show is the audience feeling utmost joy and admiration for the magic that is theatre making. I think I can speak for many of us on the team, that we are grateful to be back and to be sharing this magical story. With us giving our hearts fully to the audience, I can only hope that they leave knowing that we do this for them, so that we can laugh and cry together.
Bard on the Beach’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays at the BMO Mainstage in Vancouver until September 24th. Production time is 2 hours and 40 minutes with one intermission.