One of my favorite things as a dramaturg is getting the chance to interview those involved with theatre projects and learning more about what goes on in their thought process to bring the audience behind the scenes of production. This week I took a few moments with Daniel Mesta, producer and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An Audio Drama, to hear from him about DAM Good Productions’ first audio drama performance.
Samantha Baird: You are the founder of DAM Good Productions in Provo, UT. Why did you want to start a theatre company in an area where there are already so many other theatre companies? What is the mission of DAM Good Productions?
Daniel Mesta: As a student at BYU, I wanted to see the plays that I had studied in action. I found that that was actually difficult to do here, because there are no companies really dedicated to only performing classics. Most theatre in Utah takes on musicals, which is simply not my cup of tea. I wanted people to be able to come to a theatre space and see the plays that shaped history not as they were, but as they are now. This is why there are modern edges to all of the work that I produce. Hopefully it speaks to audiences now as much as it spoke to them then.
SB: Where did you get the idea to create an audio drama during this time? What made you choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
DM: I’ve worked in radio a good bit, and I always loved audio drama. At first I thought that we might do some readings over zoom, but I realized that that could get boring fairly quickly. An audio drama seemed like the logical way to social distance and also create theatre. People are stuck at home, many people are very sick or are even dealing with a loss of a loved one. They’ve lost jobs, friends, family. It might be a small thing, but why also have to give up Shakespeare?
SB: What do you hope people take away from listening to this performance?
DM: This is DAM Good’s first real comedy. It’s wickedly witty, and treats critical decisions with great levity. I think in a difficult time like this we need to laugh and learn to take things less seriously. That’s a sad necessity at this point for many people as they are forced to weigh the balance between their own mental health and their responsibilities. I love the jazz take on this script, because like New Orleans, the script is a little bit magic, a little bit party and a little bit traditional. I have always loved that area, and I hope that people will dive further into the parallels between the world of Midsummer and the world of NOLA in the 1930s or so. You’ll find some surprising similarities!
SB: What words of advice or support do you have for our listeners as they, and we all, move through each day of this uncertain time?
DM: I’m a terrible person to take advice from, but I would say to dive into art. I have the luxury of doing that all the time, but especially now! Literature, film, recorded theatre, opera, music, painting- all of them have a unique transportative quality to take us somewhere else, to put us in someone else’s shoes. I hope that people emerge from this with a newfound sense of wonder at what creative people do, and don’t take it for granted. I’ve also been using this time to create, which I would hope that everyone would also consider. Inside of each of us is a story, and maybe now is the time to get in touch with that.
DAM Good Productions Presents,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An Audio Drama
Exclusively Streaming on samanthabairdfreelance.com Beginning May 18, 2020!