August 15, 2022

Beer & The Bard presents a free show Aug. 5, Gezellig to unveil tie-in drink

DMACC brews collaboration for outdoor performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Legacy Plaza

From left: Jessica Weis, Faith Finn, Neena "NJ" Riddle, Robin Teel and Eli Heginger star in the DMACC Ankeny Theatre production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare, which is adopting a '70s aesthetic. The cast will be performing the show at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Legacy Plaza courtyard in Newton. Collaborating with the event is Gezellig Brewing Co., who has created a plumb jam sour beer named after a character in the show.

There is nothing wrong with seeing a theater production on a indoor stage, but every now and then a change of pace is good for the audience.

DMACC Ankeny Theatre, DMACC Newton Campus, Gezellig Brewing Co. and The Cellar Peanut Pub are embracing that deviation from the norm by hosting an outdoor, ‘70s-themed adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that is free to attend at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 5 at Legacy Plaza.

Oh! And there’s something new on tap at Gezellig as a result of this new show, which will be held in the courtyard on campus at 403 W. Fourth St. N.

In addition to lending a keg to the cast for use as a prop, the Newton craft brewery has prepared a plum jam sour beer for audiences to sip on during the play. The production being held at an outdoor venue also highlights the ever-growing Legacy Plaza campus and its reputation as a growing hot spot in town.

Collaborations like these are quite common among DMACC campuses, says Carl Lindberg, chair of the DMACC Ankeny Theatre. Oftentimes the theater department will branch out to other institutes on campus, like the fashion gala. It is also an opportune time for the department to have its first show in Newton.

“I just thought that with Legacy Plaza picking up steam and there being more vendors there, bars, breweries — it just seemed like the logical location to see if we could bring a little bit of entertainment to Newton and to Legacy Plaza and to that venue,” Lindberg told Newton News in a phone interview.

Gezellig Brewing Co. jumped onboard with the collaboration right away, Lindberg added, which prompted him to call the event “Beer & The Bard” as a way to highlight all the good things happening at Legacy Plaza and DMACC. At first, the beer was going to be an English ale as a nod to Shakespeare.

When DMACC and Gezellig talked it over some more, the idea to make it a sour seemed to make more sense. The brighter flavor profiles of a sour seemed to mesh better with the colorful cast and their ‘70s attire. Joe Kesteloot, head brewer of Gezellig Brewing Co., said the beer is similar to the “Swizzle” series.

“We added plum puree to it and also added some fruit punch to it as well,” Kesteloot said. “We did about two large kegs worth of it and we’ll put it on tap the day of the event. It’s a nice, fruity, fun beer! I think it’s fun to collaborate with the arts and I think it’s a great collaboration.”

The beer has been named “Titania” after a character in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” who is also the queen of the fairies.

Lindberg added, “Or, in our production, the queen of the hippies.”

Well, they did say it was a “groovy twist.” Producing contemporary adaptations of Shakespeare’s works is something DMACC Ankeny Theatre does quite well. For this ‘70s-inspired take, the department looked at music, clothing and hair styles and popular culture that matched the time period.

Some portions of the play were written to be sung, even back in the late 1500s, Lindberg said. Swapping those portions for ‘70s songs as an easy adjustment. Of course the dialogue has been modernized as well, so do not expect the play to pay homage to Baz Luhrman’s questionable take on “Romeo and Juliet.”

“We’ve updated the setting to a college campus, unsurprisingly,” Lindberg said. “So instead of it being the Duke Theseus, it’s the Dean Theseus.”

Also the four lovers in the play are ‘70s-era preppy students, and the rude mechanicals are “Animal House”-style frat boys. Terminology of certain words and phrases have been updated too. Other changes though are best left as a surprise to the audience come showtime.

Rachel Trimble, production manager of DMACC Ankeny Theatre at the Simon Estes School of Fine Arts, said the campus has a tradition of modernizing Shakespeare. In fact most of the Shakespeare productions the department puts on are not necessarily set in their original time.

“The ‘70s I was onboard with in the beginning because I really like the music from that era,” she said. “So I was inspired by that and kind of ready to jump in head first for this era. But we’ve had practice, per se, of shows past of kind of updating to a different era other than the period.”

By adapting Shakespeare’s works this way, the shows are more accessible to audiences. Although the dialogue may be updated, a bulk of it remains the same, Lindberg said. The goal is to make it fun, especially for DMACC’s primary audience of students.

“I want students to do Shakespeare and do Shakespeare and go, ‘Oh! This is way more fun than I thought this was going to be,’” Lindberg said.

Introducing students to a new setting at Legacy Plaza and DMACC Newton Campus also has its benefits.

Trimble said, “It’s more opportunities for our students to see how different campuses run and get the chance to visit the Newton campus and get to see all the possibilities of the collaborations that we’re doing.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.