May 24 will be here before we know it, bringing the Spoleto Festival and all that it entails — tourists, packed restaurants, and of course, plenty of new theater, art, music, and more. And this year is a pretty special one, as Spoleto is making its Shakespeare debut with a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

If you’re unfamiliar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a dreamlike comedy about the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors who are comically manipulated by fairies.

The play should appeal to both traditional Shakespeare lovers and those who cringe at the thought of sitting through one of the Bard’s plays. The plot and dialogue are the same as the original, but the presentation is anything but stale — it’s being produced by Bristol Old Vic and South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which means the show is a combination of acting, puppetry, and all the trippy, dreamlike elements featured in the original play.

Bristol Old Vic is an internationally acclaimed theater group based at the Theatre Royal in Bristol, England. The last time they partnered with South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, they produced a Tony award-winning rendition of War Horse, so we’re expecting big things.

For their part, Handspring couldn’t be more well-suited for collaboration on a play like  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where illusion is a major theme. As you can see in the video below, they’ve created puppets and props that make everyday objects, like trees, seem alive. Together, Bristol and Handspring have created a production that’s both futuristic and otherworldly.

The show will be presented at the Dock Street Theater throughout the Spoleto Festival, from May 23 to June 9. Tickets start at $25, and they’re on sale now.

YouTube video

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.