If you think Shakespeare is difficult to understand in English, perhaps it is time to watch “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in South Asian languages.
The Shubert Theater, located on College Street, is gearing up for its 2008-’09 season — headlined by the reinvented, Indian-influenced run of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The show will run from Oct. 24 to 26 and will be performed in eight different languages, including English.
“It’s Shakespeare who we know we love,” director Tim Supple said in a press release. “But it’s just revealed in a way that people won’t have experienced before.”
A part of the Shubert’s decision to run the show was an attempt to appeal to the large college population in the area. “Theaters were reporting that students responded very positively to the show,” Anthony Lupinacci, Shubert’s director of public relations, said. “They were interested by the diversity in languages and the physicality of the performance.”
Recently the Shubert has introduced several changes aimed at the student audience. One of the changes is the new student rush discount.
When Yalies show up at the box office with their IDs an hour before a regular performance, they will get 50 percent off their tickets.
While this does not apply to all the rental shows, it is a significant change from the earlier rush discounts, where tickets were released on a day-by-day basis. And for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” students can buy tickets 50 percent off right now.
“We wanted to give as much accessibility as possible,” Lupinacci said. “We know we have to accommodate the students’ hectic lifestyles and their money constraints.”
Reforms have been made to attract other audiences as well. The new subscription deal, intended for the Shubert’s target patrons who visit the theater regularly, allows members to customize their own Broadway show package, exchange tickets for free and reserve the same prime seating for all the shows.
In a way, Shubert’s changes reflect the ones that are being made in the greater New Haven area. As the urban renewal, or the “New Haven Renaissance,” draws a younger population to the area, the Shubert is seeking to become “the downtown destination.”
“You come home from work, go to a restaurant and watch a show,” Lupinacci said. “The big push is to have a much greater diversity in our offerings.”
The 2008-’09 season will start on Oct. 3 with an evening talk with David Sedaris and will include a concert by Jenny Lewis, the percussion sensation STOMP and a free concert by U.S. Air Force Academy Band. But while the Shubert is introducing these changes and new shows, the question is whether or not Yalies will take advantage of them.
According to focus groups held by the Shubert, most students responded that while they appreciate the theater’s proximity to campus, they’d rather “take the train and watch Broadway plays on Broadway.”
“Students said that they’d walk past the Shubert and not come in because they didn’t like how it looks from the outside,” Lupinacci said. “But once they saw the theater, they said, ‘Wow, it’s just like New York.’ ”
Perhaps an acrobatic, Bengali-speaking Shakespeare play will change everything.