Husthwaite Players head to the woods in Lottie Alexander’s staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Husthwaite Village Hall

Effie Warboys’ Helena, Sam Strickland’s Lysander and Rachael Williams’s Hermia in rehearsal for Husthwaite Players’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream. All pictures: Jack Wells

LOTTIE Alexander directs Husthwaite Players in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Husthwaite Village Hall, near Easingwold, from April 25 to 27.

“What happens when characters – and audiences and readers – are moved from the known to the unknown, from order to disorder?” asks Lottie. “When they step outside their everyday life and enter into a strange dimension, such as the island in Lord Of The Flies, or Neverland, or the wood in A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

“The wood is the centre of Shakespeare’s play, a place inhabited by fairies, ruled over by Titania and Oberon, whose quarrel has had the effect of altering the seasons. The disruptive interaction of the fairies with the mortals who dare to enter the forest, the lovers, and the artisans rehearsing their play, forms the major part of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Despite the play being set in Athens, the wood and the fairies are thoroughly English, as are the artisans who perform their play for Duke Theseus. “Our production is set in 1918 – and the setting is appropriate,” says Lottie.

Marcus Pickstone’s Oberon stands overThomas Jennings’s Demetrius as they rehearse for Husthwaite Players’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“In 1917, in England, the photographs, taken by two young girls, of cut-out paper fairies deceived many in England, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. From the 18th century, England was changed forever, as the Industrial Revolution drove the change from rural life to the new mechanized society, and the countryside was swallowed up by railways and urban and suburban sprawl.

“As a reaction, the interest in stories of fairies and magic abounded, folk tales and ballads were collected by antiquarians, and Spiritualism flourished, particularly post-war.”

Lottie continues: “In the play, Theseus explains to Hippolyta that it is easy for mortal minds to be confused by unusual images and experiences, and, as Puck reminds the audience at the play’s end, it may all have been a dream.”

Casting an eye over her company, Lottie says: “We are a village with a small community, and most of our players are local, but we have been lucky enough to be able to attract outside talent in several of our previous productions.

Thisbe, left, The Wall and Pyramus in the “Wall Play” finale to Husthwaite Players’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“For A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we have four talented and dedicated players as our young lovers: Effie Warboys (Helena), Thomas Jennings (Demetrius), Rachael Williams (Hermia) and Sam Strickland (Lysander). Effie and Thomas have most recently performed with the York Shakespeare Project.”

Look out too for Ray Alexander, past director of York Mystery Plays and York Settlement Community Players productions, making an ass of himself in the role of Nick Bottom, the weaver.

“We hope audiences will enjoy our production. After all, as Philip Henslowe says in the film Shakespeare in Love: ‘Comedy, love and a bit with a dog. That’s what they want’!”

Husthwaite Players in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 25 to 27, 7.30pm; doors 7pm. Tickets: £10, children £5, family £25; 07836 721775 or email

Husthwaite Players’ poster for Lottie Alexander’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Duke Theseus: Paul Hampshire

Hippolyta: Rachael Bice

Philostrate: Euan Crawshaw

Egeia: Lydia Ebdon

Hermia: Rachael Williams

Demetrius: Thomas Jennings

Lysander: Sam Strickland

Helena: Effie Warboys

Polly Quince: Stella McDevitt

Nick Bottom: Ray Alexander

Francis Flute: David Aspinall

Robin Starveling: Jane Cluley

Sally Snug: Sheila Mowatt

Puck: Scott Lammas

Celandine: Bethan Simpson

Oberon: Marcus Pickstone

Titania: Emma Kissack

Conker (the dog):  Himself

Fairies and sprites played by Hustwaite children.

Production team

Director: Lottie Alexander

Set design: Ray Alexander

Scenic artists: Sorrel Price, Emma Kissack

Wardrobe: Lynn Colton, Julia Hampshire

Props: Liz Walton, Doreen French

Stage management: Stephen Barker, Simon Eedle