Theatreworks will be performing William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at 5:30 p.m. outside the Deerfield Hills Community Center (4290 Deerfield Hills Rd.) on Thursday, June 24. The performance is part of the Theatreworks Free-for-All program, which provides no-cost performances for communities throughout the Pikes Peak region.

“Our Free-for-All Program started in 2019 with a performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Comedy of Errors’ that performed around the community at libraries, parks, community centers, senior centers,” said Caitlin Lowans, artistic director for Theatreworks. “Last year during COVID it didn’t happen in person, so we are rebooting it this year in 2021 with ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’”


A dress rehearsal for the Theatreworks performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Lowans said the goal of the program is to provide enriching arts experiences for everyone in the community. “The idea is that theatre not only exists in the special, reserved places we’ve agreed are set aside for art, but also that theater and art can and should exist embedded in the community, in centers and places that are already exciting for the community for lots of different reasons,” she said. “Art and theater can provide communities that are already diverse and robust and exciting with another type of event around which to gather. When we do our Free-for-All productions we have a very specific performance style. For example, we specifically perform in spaces that are not theaters. We perform in the round, so we set up our drop-cloth stage in the center of a space and we encourage folks to gather on all four sides of it, so that way the experience is democratized. Everyone is equal, four times as many people get front-row seats and the audience can not only watch the play, they can watch each other across the space. You can watch other people laughing, other people reacting, and it feels like a community in the same way that people might gather around a campfire and tell stories and listen to each other and laugh.”

While some people may find the idea of Shakespeare intimidating — or boring — Lowans said her team has worked to make the Bard accessible to all audiences. “The thing I love about Shakespeare, specifically for these community tour projects, as much as Shakespeare has come to be associated with sort of elevated, or scary, or upper-class ways of being, a thing that Shakespeare actually did was he wrote about people at many different class levels, having many different kinds of larger-than-life experiences,” she says. “When we’re doing community-based work I really love to do plays that feel heightened rather than elevated. It feels like we’re encountering these larger-than-life characters and experiences, but we have in-roads into them at lots of different levels. In Shakespeare you see kings and queens and dukes, but you also see weavers and tailors and people who work with their hands. I love that, and I think sometimes contemporary theatre has gotten away from that idea that we need to show everybody at these really big points in their lives when they’re making really momentous decisions, and I want us to get back to that.”

The funding for these community performances comes in part from the Bob Johnson Memorial Fund. “The rehearsal for the in-person work and the payment for the actors — all of the artists were paid for all rehearsals, they were paid for every performance they do so their work is being honored — we have a couple different sources of funding,” said Lowans. “Some of our performance partners are able to pay. We go to five of the library sites and the [Pikes Peak Library District] has a budget to fund it. Other performances are paid for out of funds that Theatreworks has raised. We have some donors who give to the Bob Johnson Memorial Fund at Theatreworks. That specifically goes to performances of classical works. We use some of those funds from donors to support community performances — like at Deerfield Hills [Community Center] and at the Chinook Center — for folks who are doing other excellent work and we want to make sure that they’re saving their budget money for all the work that they’re doing in the community and we’re able to offer the performances to them for free.”

The June 24 performance will be held outside of the Deerfield Hills Community Center and guests are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. For those unable to make this week’s performance, Theatreworks will bring “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the Chinook Center at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 18. For more information on the Free-for-All performances, visit the Theatreworks website.

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.