Despite a cancelled 2020 season, students at UCI’s New Swan Shakespeare Center will take the stage to perform “A Midsummer Night’s Zoom.”

While the upcoming performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Zoom” will be different from what cast members are used to, two UCI faculty members are using this virtual performance as an experiment to prove the pandemic will not slow down production.

A Midsummer Night's Zoom

Thomas Varga as Puck chats with Jalon Matthews as Mote. (Courtesy UCI New Swan Shakespeare Center)

Eli Simon, chancellor’s professor of drama and artistic director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, and Julia Lupton, professor of English and director of “A Midsummer Night’s Zoom,” spoke about why they chose to adapt one of Shakespeare’s most well-known stories.

“We chose ‘Midsummer’ because we wanted to offer the campus and community a magical Shakespearean masterpiece during these stressful times,” Simon says. “In essence, we have changed many of our beloved ways of living because of restrictions that have been put in place to preserve our wellbeing. In much the same way, the lovers in ‘Midsummer’ have been told how they must behave and whom they are permitted to love. The restraints and isolations the characters suffer, represented in Zoom, reflect the feelings that we’ve all experienced being trapped by this pandemic. Once the characters find their way to the forest, they are released from the need to distance, and as our heroes find the freedom inherent in nature, they mature, express feelings and find the love they need and deserve.”

While the cast will not meet in person this year, Lupton explained that the use of technology will be much different from what the audience has seen — in terms of Zoom performances.

“We’re making the most of the technology that’s available to us, and it’s a lot of fun,” Simon says. “If you’ve ever watched theater events online where performers are just sitting there speaking lines into the camera, rest assured, this will be nothing like that.”

All performances are free and begin at 6 p.m. Show dates are:

  • Part 1, Wednesday, Aug. 26
  • Part 2, Thursday, Aug. 27
  • Part 1, Friday, Aug. 28
  • Part 2, Saturday, Aug. 29

Registration is available at: