Photo credit: Jerry Dalia

Back in the summer of 2017, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey presented a unique production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which trash literally became treasure through creative set and costume design. We met with director and designer Bonnie Monte, who discussed the magic of reusing materials often tossed aside—from moth wings constructed from old credit and metro cards to a trailing, glittering cape made of discarded CDs. “I started to think about all the things that we, without thinking about, just throw away, constantly—if we did reuse things more creatively, we could have an impact on the environment.”

Her reflections led Bonnie to incorporate a theme of environmentalism into the production, subtly and beautifully reiterated through costume design choices. After all, the timely subject works well within the play itself, as drama between the King and the Queen of the Fairies is enough to cause the weather to change and wreak havoc upon the world, offering an unnerving parallel to the climate change we are experiencing today. As we hear from the Fairy Queen Titania herself:

And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world
By their increase now knows not which is which.

This awareness of responsibility for changes within our environment is made visually poetic as Titania moves around the stage in her breathtaking, glittering cape made of recycled materials.

The play was performed at the Outdoor Stage in Morris Township. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey returns in 2022 with Much Ado About Nothing, opening at Saint Elizabeth University’s beautiful Greek-style amphitheater on July 1 at 8 pm. The play, featuring a cast of 23 actors, will run through July 31. Check out their website for ticket prices and showtimes!

Banner advertising Much Ado About Nothing performed by The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey