In the course of the past two extraordinarily difficult years we never considered ending the festival, even when it appeared that our end was imminent. This is why we have chosen To be or n̶o̶t̶ to be as our motto for Season Eight. We did not presume to tinker with Shakespeare’s most famous line because we thought we knew better, but rather to reflect our attitude. For us not being is not an option. We merely recognise that it is only possible for our festival to be or to be in some different incarnation, as we have seen last year when we were proud to stage our festival indoors for the first time, at the Marin Držić Theatre, a venue that bears the name of one of the two playwrights that have marked Midsummer Scene thus far. Our motto also reflects that we will be hosting a production dealing with Hamlet for the second time after 2016 when we featured the first actress to play the titular role in Hamlet on a major stage in South-eastern Europe. This time we have invited Marin Držić Theatre’s production Hamlet – the Criminal Record of a Monarchy, directed by Livija Pandur.
Of course, apart from Držić, Shakespeare is our other major cornerstone, and we began our life marking 450th anniversary of his birth in 2014 and, ever since, the Bard has been the core of Midsummer Scene Festival. In 2018 we have celebrated our first five years with A Midsummer Night’ Dream, the play that, in part, gave the festival its name. Our 2015 production of Twelfth Night transferred to Vienna’s English Theatre the same year we staged Hamlet. Our productions have travelled to Bermuda Festival three times and have opened the inaugural season of Shakespeare on the Rock on that island. Our last pre-pandemic edition in 2019 entitled Season of Love and Hate was headlined by Romeo & Juliet directed by Sean Aita. And we have chosen this production as a symbol of our return to the big stage. This is not to say that our last year’s smaller production of A Poor Player written by Filip Krenus and Sean Aita does not compare with our past creations. Indeed, is has proved to be a success, touring to International Shakespeare Festival in Craiova, Romania and Gyula Shakespeare Festival in Hungary. Last season marked our new beginning where we kept close our old friends and embraced new ones.
Throughout the years, we have successfully collaborated with Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and The House of Marin Držić, the museum dedicated to life and works of a major Renaissance playwright and Dubrovnik native.
Together with Marin Držić Theatre, who have hosted us last year, we have co-produced Uncle Maroye Re-Examined in 2019. This piece was inspired by Držić’s most famous comedy written in 1551 and translated by Filip Krenus. That same year the production was in the main programme of Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival. Philip Parr, head of York Shakespeare Festival, returned to us last year contributing to A Poor Player. And this year, together with Filip Krenus, he has created the dramatic throughline for the concert Millions of Strange Shadows where klapa Kaše will be singing Shakespeare’s sonnets set to music by Vicko Dragojević. We complete our music programme with a concert Seasons of Life celebrating the 750th Anniversary of The Statute of Dubrovnik.
This year we do not forget that Dubrovnik is our root and our branches continue to spread its name to the world, reflecting our culture in mirrors of English and many other languages.