On With the Show

The Department of Theater prepares 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative's
2017 Celebration

By Noela Hueso

On Thursday, May 4, the Department of Theater will present a contemporary adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream during the grand opening of UCLA’s new Living Amphitheater as part of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative’s 2017 Celebration.

Located inside the Sunset Recreation Center complex, the amphitheater features 31 community garden boxes tended by UCLA students, faculty and staff, and is the latest in a series of actions coming from HCI, envisioned and supported by Jane and Terry Semel, which aims to make UCLA the healthiest campus in America.

This is the first time that the Department of Theater is involved in the annual celebration, which also recognizes the efforts of various on-campus groups involved with HCI during the academic year.

“I love that we’re working art into this event about healthy initiatives because health isn’t just about eating well and exercising,” says Department of Theater Chair Brian Kite. “It’s also about mindfulness and being centered and using art to help feed your soul in a way that keeps you healthy as well. It takes what we do every day and applies it in a very visceral way to how people can think about living their lives.”

Professor Joe Olivieri, head of UCLA TFT’s undergraduate acting program, directs 16 student performers (four of whom also serve as puppeteers) and has reimagined Shakespeare’s popular tale about young lovers, actors and faeries as a late 1960s romp in the forest.

“I set this production in the 1960s because it fits the spirit of the play,” he says. “It's about young love, rebelling against your parents and rebelling against authority in general,” adding that numerous classic tunes from the ’60s enhance the production’s “hippie” vibe.

Under the direction of recent UCLA TFT graduate Mina Bloom (B.A. ’16), most of the music in A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed live. Others involved in the production include M.F.A. playwriting student Scott Barnhardt and Theater sophomore Danielle Jensen (choreography); Mark Royson (B.A. ’16) and Theater sophomore Yi Lin Zhao (puppet design); undergrad Lia Wallfish (costumes) and senior Margaret Starbuck (set design).

All are welcome to the free celebration, which begins at 4 p.m. with an HCI-funded student projects competition, giveaways, demos and live music. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which has a one-hour run time, follows at 5 p.m., and a Celebration Party, complete with food, drink and more live entertainment, begins at 6:30 p.m.

Complementary tickets can be picked up at UCLA’s Central Ticket Office; online ticket sales are $25. For more information visit:

Posted: April 12, 2017