As we contemplate how we're going to enjoy a relaxing summer -- whether it be out-of-state vacations, concerts or festivals -- others are stressing to the max, scrambling around to put together the events they hope might grab our attention.
Perhaps no one best demonstrates what it takes to put on a successful summer event as the folks at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
Before the first audiences stream into the Mary Rippon Theatre each summer to enjoy an adventure under the beautiful breezy Colorado sunset (that is, if the weather cooperates), a momentous amount of work and planning goes on as the Colorado Shakespeare Festival prepares to mount its first show of the season -- and it's less than three weeks away.
While weather, especially wind, is still the dominant dramatic force at play in the Rippon, the artistic team brought together by CSF must attend to many critical details, planning designs and budgets, schedules and housing needs of a large troupe. The amount of time they all are together in one room is very short compared to the time needed to fulfill the visions of the directors.
"These plays take off like a rocket," said Timothy Orr, the CSF's interim producing artistic director. "We need to make sure that we have properly prepared and communicated with the approximately 120 people that are employed for the summer so that the first day we can hit the ground running."
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, which was started by the University of Colorado Boulder, has remained in a collaborative relationship with the Department of Theatre and Dance since its first season in 1958. Between spring commencement exercises and the arrival of the CSF company, the Rippon and University theaters have undergone considerable transformation.
"There are several spaces around campus that change over from being academic classrooms to fully working construction shops, support spaces and rehearsal rooms, and that happens within a week's time," Orr said. "The Rippon itself undergoes a huge transformation; it is not a theater until we make it a theater. We bring in all the lights, all the sound. This year, because of the lighting upgrade, we had even less time.
"But it is happening. Fast."
This summer, longtime CSF actor and fight director Geoffrey Kent will be directing the troupe for the first time, although he has many directing credits on his resume. His CSF directorial debut will be the season-opening production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which runs June 8 through Aug. 11.
Because of staffing changes that occurred this year, Kent was asked to direct a show that already had entered the planning stages. That's not an unusual occurrence in the theater world, but it poses challenges for all involved.
"Your first question when you inherit a show in process is, 'What decisions have been made?' " Kent said. "And the answer was that there was time to really reinvent, but it had to happen quickly.
"When you do Shakespeare you want to know how you are going to frame it because that influences the style of casting you want to do. It meant I had about five days to figure out what to do with it."
Working quickly, Kent's vision was reinforced by some powerful performances in auditions that led to casting "Midsummer" in a way that resists the play's traditional stereotypes.
"We settled on the 1920s mostly because I like the rising voice of women in that period," Kent said, "and this play does have a lot of women, from Hippolyta and Hermia, who are pursuing what they want to be, not what their parents want them to be or their husbands want them to be.
"Shakespeare doesn't do that in a lot of plays, but when he slips it in there it's so beautiful, so we liked 1920s because of women's suffrage. I like the music of the period, the festive jazz -- it gives us a cool soundtrack for the show."
It's also a good tie-in, Kent believes.
"Obviously, it gives us a nice look. But I think really, for me, the 1920s was a very close period to today where everything was exploding," he said. "Technology, for them, was exploding, and rights were exploding, and we were coming out of a war and all this stuff was going on, so it's a hectic time period, and I like that."
As CSF begins its first week of rehearsal for "Midsummer," the creative forces that have been working together from a distance finally are side-by-side, a fury of energy racing toward opening a show that's so close to fruition.
Let the summer begin.