Scot directs play on Hill

Lindsay Sainlar

Growing up as an only child in Scotland and forced to live in his own imagination, John Doyle said he fell in love with the idea of expressing himself through the stage. Never has the course of true love run so smoothly.

Doyle is the guest director for the theater department’s production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

It is the third time Doyle has directed a play at Western.

He will present his version of the Shakespearean classic at 8 p.m. on Nov. 6-8, 10 and 11 and at 3 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Russell Miller Theatre in the fine arts center.

“It’s not heavy and academic,” he said about his hour-and-a-half rendition of the acclaimed literary piece. “It’s very accessible.”

He said the entire play is set in Helena’s bedroom. His direction is intended to invoke a somewhat sad and sinister feeling, as opposed to the humorous approach often taken with the play.

“It’s like a dream,” Doyle said about the play. “It’s sort of looking at how we are in our dreams. It’s rather lovely.”

Justin Lamb, a senior from Springfield, Tenn., plays Puck. He said Doyle has made the cast stretch and flex their acting muscles. He also said he was amazed at the sense of passion and seriousness that Doyle has brought to the production.

“He’s only been here four weeks, and it’s amazing to see how quickly things have been put together and how driven we are,” Lamb said.

He added that Doyle is a very innovative director who encompasses ideas and visuals that are unlike most in the theater.

“We are very blessed to have him here,” Lamb said about Doyle, who has won three British Theatre Awards, one for Best Musical.

Doyle was born in a culture where students chose their career paths in high school. He said he has been drawn to theater since he was 17, and he uses it as a way to tell his story.

He said he feels that it his job to communicate with the world.

“I try to find what the play says to me,” Doyle said. “I look at what love says to me, what humanity says to me, and I let it reflect my personality.”

He currently operates four theaters in the United Kingdom and is the associate director of Watermill Theatre, which he described as one of the country’s most acclaimed theaters.

Besides writing his own musicals and adaptation plays, he is also the co-author of the book “Shakespeare for Dummies,” which has sold over 50,000 copies.

“I’ve had a very blessed career actually,” he said.

Doyle attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, an elite and prestigious school in Glasgow, Scotland, that only grants admission to 1,000 students per year. After that, Doyle was granted an international scholarship to the University of Georgia in Athens.

Doyle met Western professor William Jackson Kesler during his years at Georgia. Kesler invited Doyle to be a guest director at Western six years ago, three years ago and again this year.

Doyle said he has been more than willing to leave his homes in Hastings and the Rome vicinity to direct productions for the Western community.

“I like the faculty,” Doyle said. “I find it a friendly university. People say hello to me, and this place just feels special.”

Reach Lindsay Sainlar at [email protected]