When Lean & Hungry Theater imagines its audience, they’re not thinking of the devotees of the bard, though many of their fans are just that. They create their versions for those who find him intimidating. Or worse, a bloody bore. And they’ve taken the fuss and bother of getting to a theatre out of the equation. You can hear their plays from your couch. Or driving to the mall. For Lean & Hungry Theatre is in the business of creating original radio dramas. And business is good.
Their work has attracted the ears of producers of the local NPR affiliate WAMU 88.5, which last February broadcast Lean & Hungry’s version of Romeo and Juliet.
This Sunday, June 26th at 6pm, Lean and Hungry Theater and WAMU 88.5 will be presenting a special live-to-air broadcast of Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Lean & Hungry’s one-hour radio production will be broadcast live from the Woods-Brown Amphitheatre on the campus of American University. The show will air immediately before WAMU 88.5’s hugely popular “Big Broadcast” program of classic radio dramas. Tickets for the live event are $25, and can be purchased through WAMU 88-5 at http://wamu.tix.com.
Set in the Prohibition Era, Lean & Hungry recasts many of Shakespeare’s classic characters as gangsters and molls, with most of the action taking place in and around the Palace Hotel. The story of beguiled young lovers, vengeful mobster kingpins and slapstick laborers culminates with a hilarious “play-within-a-play” climax.
Dramatic soundscapes for radio dramas are essential to establishing character and place. This production will have an “old time radio feel”, Lean & Hungry Managing Director Alex Zavistovich told BBC Americana. One of the treats for audiences attending the live performance will be to see a folio artist create the sound effects live using such modern materials as plastic tubing and kitty litter. “Pristine kitty litter”, Zavistovich assured the BBC audience.
The cast, under the direction of Hannah Todd, includes Steve Beall, Chris Genebach, Jessica Hansen, Karen Novack, Matthew Vaky, Alex Vaughan and Zavistovich who has developed a praise-worthy bray to play Bottom.
“The story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a staple of English and Theatre education, and part of the required reading list for many public schools in the DC metropolitan area and across the nation,” explained Jessica Hansen, Lean & Hungry’s Artistic Director.
“By placing our production in a more contemporary setting with modern-day sound effects, we’re offering an easy-to-understand perspective for today’s young audiences,” Hansen added. “In our adaptation, mischievous Puck provides modern-language narration throughout the show. It’s a great way to introduce new audiences to this wonderful play.”
She concluded, “We welcome the DC area’s families to join us for a mix of classic theatre and classic radio with a modern twist that they can’t find anywhere else.”
Immediately following the broadcast, audience members are invited to stay for Lean & Hungry’s continuing “Food for Thought” discussions and talkback, which will focus on the relevance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in literature and contemporary society.
Previous Lean and Huntry productions are available from the Web site store.