Folger stages Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at National Building Museum

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Folger at National Building Museum (Part 1)

Shakespeare historically staged his plays at The Globe in London, but he could have never dreamed of his work being performed in a swanky architecture museum in D.C.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is staging the timeless tale of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the National Building Museum now through Aug. 28.

“The building is massive. It’s gorgeous. It truly is awe-inspiring,” Actor Jacob Ming-Trent told WTOP. “Being a classical actor doing Shakespeare, it’s just amazing to be able to stand there in that building and feel the size of it, but the audience is also really close.”

The National Building Museum built what it calls a “Playhouse,” including a stage, a two-story set and staircases. Crews had to climb in through the roof to hang the lights.

“This is definitely Top 5 theater spaces ever,” Ming-Trent said. “In the building, you have these huge columns. You’ve never seen columns this big indoors.”

Set in Athens, Greece, Shakespeare’s iconic play follows the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta, as well as three interwoven subplots, including the story of Athenian lovers.

“It’s 500 years old, but people still get a kick out of it,” Ming-Trent said. “It all comes together at the end with a play within the play, which is hilarious. … Laugh central.”

Ming-Trent plays Bottom, whom he calls “one of the great characters in Shakespeare, this guy who thinks he’s a great actor,” but really, “Shakespeare is making fun of actors!”

Lighting designer Yael Lubetzky shines a colorful collection of blues, reds, oranges and greens. Ming-Trent promises that “when you see it, your mouth drops open because it will transport you. It’s attacking all of your senses, like candy for all of your senses.”

The show runs 90 minutes without intermission. Tickets start at $20 per person.

“You’ve never seen ‘Midsummer’ like this,” Ming-Trent said. “A lot of people produce ‘Midsummer’ … but we’re doing a 90-minute, fast, throw-all-the-paint-on-the-wall version.”
WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Folger at National Building Museum (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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