Pittsburgh Public announces nationwide search to cast BIPOC ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem’

Pittsburgh Public Theater is conducting a nationwide search to cast its 2023 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem, adapted and directed by resident director Justin Emeka

Pittsburgh Public Theater
resident director Justin Emeka

“The Public is encouraging audition videos from Black and Brown performers with the ability to embrace Shakespeare’s language as well as a passion to celebrate Black culture,” the company announced in a press release on Monday. 

The Public’s announcement added that the director “welcomes (but does not require) actors to speak with accents or dialects that come from their own personal heritage i.e., Haitian, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Brooklyn, Nigerian, etc.”

Interested performers should prepare:

  • Two monologues — one from the Shakespeare canon and one from the sides available here.
  • 16 bars in a cappella of any song in any genre.
  • All materials should not exceed five minutes total.
  • Videos are due Sept. 20, 2022, and can be submitted online at: https://pct.formstack.com/forms/pptmidsummeraudition

Auditioners must be available to be in Pittsburgh for the rehearsal and performance process, Jan. 3 through Feb. 19, 2023 (possible extension TBD).

“This play is essentially a fairy tale set in ancient Athens, yet Shakespeare made no attempt to be historically accurate,” Emeka said, explaining his adaptation. “Culturally speaking, his characters are unapologetically Elizabethan as opposed to Greek. In similar fashion, my production re-imagines Athens as an African or Black cultural melting pot — essentially a modern version of the Harlem Renaissance.” 

The work incorporates traditional African dance, music and spirituality into the fairies, while the nobles, mechanicals and young lovers will reflect more contemporary sensibilities, shaped by jazz and hip-hop. 

Emeka first directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem in 2013 at the Classical Theater in Harlem, when The New York Times called it, “as fresh as country lemonade, with its smart casting.” 

This will be the first time it is produced at a major regional theater. 

Emeka has previously reimagined classics including Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie and Sophocles’ Antigone

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  1. 'A Midsummer Night's Dream in Harlem': Black and Beautiful by Design

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