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ECU presents ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Lovers, poets and fairies

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From left, Grant Vandervoort, Jessica Braun and Pierce Williams rehearse for A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Wednesday at East Carolina University.

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BY Mackenzie Tewksbury
The (Greenville) Daily Reflector

Friday, April 13, 2018

GREENVILLE — The course of true love never did run smooth, Shakespeare said, but for Jen-Scott Mobley, directing her first play at East Carolina University was truly a happily ever after.

“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Mobley said.

Mobley is making her ECU debut as director in the ECU/​Loessin Playhouse production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She said it was incredibly exciting and a great pleasure to be able to work with ECU faculty and students to bring Shakespeare’s words of magic and romance to the stage.

The work, a comedy, celebrates the coming of summer and shows us all that true love isn’t always easy and often messy, according to Mobley.

“It’s where the world of magical fairies collides with the world of the mortals. We kind of get a lesson in the way we can behave like crazy people when we fall in love.,” Mobley said.

“It sort of follows a traditional hero’s journey. It’s a civilized world, something goes wrong, you go into the woods and through an adventure before you come out on the other side brighter and with a new experience.”

Mobley has been a fan of Shakespeare “forever,” and has directed his plays prior to this one. She said while each of them definitely comes with their own pros and cons, sometimes that’s what makes it fun.

“I think both the joy and challenge of Shakespeare is the language. He gives you everything you need to work with on the page. The trick is to make sure that you listen to what he is telling you,” she said.

Mobley said another challenging but exciting aspect of directing this play is that the play can happen anywhere and at any time — Shakespeare sets no definitive time and place, so it gave her and the set and costume designers some creative freedom and the opportunity to imagine the world they really wanted to create on stage.

“Imagination is endless. But at a certain point, you have to make some choices,” she said.

But Mobley said no idea was exclusively hers or exclusively the designers — each decision was a product of each person’s ideas and visions.

“I’m a really collaborative director. It’s hard to say when their ideas began and my ideas ended. That’s how it should be; a true sense of collaboration. Until you have the whole team together, what it’s going to look like doesn’t really exist.”

Mobley has directed many plays before her ECU debut, including a handful in New York. But she said the students at ECU were an absolute joy to work with and were extremely impressive performers.

“They are fiercely brave in terms of trying things. ... They are able and willing to try anything. They have a great attitude and a great sense of play,” Mobley said.

Mobley said the play weaves in deep messages and pearls of wisdom, but also carries lots of fun and laughs. And while the Shakespearean language can be intimidating to some, Mobley said this play will be the exact opposite.

“Fear not — Shakespeare can be fun,” she said.

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