One of the themes in William Shakespeares play A Midsummer Nights Dream explores the dichotomy of city versus nature. Young lovers follow their passions into the woods where magic awaits. The line between reality and fantasy blurs, but eventually the city folk return to their orderly lives, remembering their jaunt into the forest as nothing more than a wistful dream.
"That you have slumbered here, While these visions did appear; And this weak and idle theme, Nor more yielding but a dream." Dream Epilogue.3-6.
It is a story not unfamiliar here; of concrete-dwellers setting out on a pilgrimage up Highway 99 to escape societys constrains in the wilderness, pleasures and freedom Whistler affords.
A Midsummer Nights Dream was the perfect fit for the inaugural production of the Whistler Theatre Project: a new kind of outdoor adventure with theatre under the sky Aug. 4 to Sept. 3 at Ross Regabliati Park.
"The play is about going away from the city and what happens when you do: the possibilities to get away, celebrate and play," Zaib Shaikh said.
"Whistler is known for its outdoors. We wanted to bring that element into the culture and entertainment we are supplying."
"We are trying to create something magical: an enchantment in the woods," Todd Talbot said.
With Whistlers forests and mountains providing the backdrop for the tented production in the park, nature and culture will be united for a truly dramatic experience.
Co-founders Shaikh and Talbot recently opened the doors to Whistler Theatre Projects offices at MY Millennium Place.
Its a dream come true for Talbot, a weekend warrior from Vancouver who has visited his familys Whistler vacation home for 15 years. Before setting off to stages in Londons West End, The Charlottetown Festival, Canadian Stage, Vancouver Playhouse, Bard on the Beach and the Arts Club Theatre, the then novice actor dismissed his mothers encouragement to start a theatre company in Whistler. Now 10 years later the young man, who only wanted to be on stage, is creating his own.
Community theatre has a long tradition in Whistler, but currently the resort hosts no professional theatre troupe or summer stock productions.
Shaikh and Talbot are looking to build the project within the community as much as possible. Various community groups were consulted, including Short Skirt Theatre, Whistler Arts Council and Soul Funktion Dance Studio. The Whistler Theatre Project has also built partnerships with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler, Whistler-Blackcomb and various Sea to Sky businesses.
"We are not coming in and dropping (the project) in like a mall," Talbot said. "Its not like a show that is already done and being parachuted in for one night. This is something that really needs to root and grow."