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Repeated dreams

It starts with two young people disappearing from home because they have disagreed with their parents. The deeper they get into the forest, and the fairy kingdom, the more Shakespearean it becomes. The magic of the wood, the magic and the humour of Shakespeare will take over."

Director of Keighley-based youth group HYT Michael Ford explains how he is merging modern characters with A Midsummer Night's Dream for a play he has called Dream On.

The subject has been chosen because this year marks the 400th anniversary of The Dream's first performance.

The action begins when work-experience youngsters from a garden centre arrive with the trees and shrubs for an exhibition. The foliage becomes the wood and the youngsters become the mechanicals of the story.

Running away is the issue linking modern characters with Shakespeare's creations. For one workshop session the actors listened to Pete Tidy, a teacher from a school for the emotionally disturbed, talking about his experiences, and then they worked on a situation where one child dares to do something and the other is dragged in reluctantly.

Rachel Ford and Naomi Bartholomew explained the mix of language they are using: "We were told that the fairies had to speak Shakespeare, the humans - Helena, Hermia and the workpeople - had to speak modern Keighley accents, no false airs and graces. We had to script it ourselves."

At the beginning of rehearsals they were asked to write down the ten most important events in the story. Michael Ford had said - "Remember it's like packing a suitcase for your holiday, you only want the essentials".

There followed an astonishingly perceptive seminar on the nuances of plot and character with direct observations and forthright questioning. Astonishing because many of the HYT actors are still a couple of years away from their GCSE year.

At East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, West Yorkshire, from July 11 to 13. Tickets: 01535 604379

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