The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland
High School Theater Presents A Midsummer Night's Dream

See a gallery of excellent photos on the TASIS SmugMug page.

TASIS The American School in Switzerland's High School Theater Program presented William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the Palmer Cultural Center on the evenings of November 17–18 and on the afternoon of November 19, 2017. Congratulations to Director Valerie Bijur Carlson, Assistant Director Matthew Frazier-Smith, Music Director Samantha Forrest, and the entire cast and crew (which also included faculty members and Elementary and Middle School students) for three outstanding performances in front of packed houses!

The shows on Friday and Saturday evening were filmed and can be watched in their entirety below.



Continue reading below to learn about the many students and faculty members who worked so incredibly hard to bring this magical experience to the TASIS community.


PHILOSTRATE, master of the revels to Theseus
Luca Zocche
Ethan Fredericksen (Sat.)
& Ivan Semashev (Fri. & Sun.)
QUEEN HIPPOLYTA of the Amazons
Lana Kozak
EGEUS, father to Hermia
Ryan Meng
HERMIA, in love with Lysander; best friends with Helena
Anna Collingwood
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia
Miguel Fernandez
DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia (oops)
Nicolas Jacquemin
HELENA, in love with Demetrius; best friends with Hermia
Laura Kockara
PETER QUINCE, a carpenter; playwright & Prologue
Ella Abisi
NICK BOTTOM, a weaver; plays Pyramus
Francis Accilien
FRANCIS FLUTE, a bellows-mender; plays Thisbe
Dr. Christopher Love
TOM SNOUT, a tinker; plays Wall
Josip Biondic
ROBIN STARVELING, a tailor; plays Moonshine
Alberto Ornaghi
SNUG, a joiner; plays Lion Amela Buzi
Amela Buzi
ROBIN GOODFELLOW, a "puck"/hobgoblin, in Oberon's service
Ethan Fredericksen (Fri. & Sun.)
Ivan Semashev (Sat.)
MOTH, a fairy in Titania's service
Daisy Bachofen
Jasper Beckmen
Adelaide Chini
PEASEBLOSSOM, a fairy in Titania's service
Ms. Laura Fox
LILAC, a fairy in Titania's service
Eloise Hill
COBWEB, a fairy in Titania's service
Iona Love
MUSTARDSEED, a fairy in Titania's service
Eve Ryan
MAPLE, a fairy in Titania's service
Ms. Sara Soncina
BLUEBELL, a fairy in Titania's service
Iris Kaymak
ELVES in Oberon's service   
Ryan Meng & Luca Zocche
Massimo Palmieri


Violin 1:
Hina Mitsuse and Ryosuke Misuse
Violin 2:
Donee Rollins, Jiwon Byeon, and Cristina Estevez
David Weng and Yu Ying Chan
Maria Veronica Ramos Romero and Matt Meng
Flute Michelle McKay and Irene Lee
Marcela Soares Blunk
French Horn:
Marcel Ibrahim
Mikkel Miclat

Production Team

Director & Production Manager
Ms. Valerie Bijur Carlson
Assistant Director
Mr. Matthew Frazier-Smith
Arrangements & Music Director
Ms. Samantha Forrest
Stage Manager
Jessica Landa
Assistant Stage Manager
Sabrina Murray-Bruce
Costume Design & Wardrobe Crew
Lima Guggiari, Iris Kaymak, Lana Kozak, & Ms. Carlson
Costume Shop Stitchers
Ms. Luisella Govoni & Ms. Paola Prentice
Makeup & Hair Design/Crew
Iris Kaymak, Lana Kozak, Frida Larsson, & Irina Popova
Set Design
Alexey Dudov, Tamara Ilic, Dmitrii Skulkov, Mr. Thomas Joyce, & Ms. Carlson
Props Design & Fabrication
Nicolas Jacquemin, Irina Popova, Sofya Rappoport, & Ms. Carlson, with some assistance from the 2017-18 Drama classes
Scenic Painting
Mr. Martyn Dukes, the Scene Shop crew, the 2017-18 Drama 1 class, & Ms. Carlson
Scene Shop & Running Crew
Alexey Dudov, Dmitrii Skulkov, Pedro Dias, Ben Carlson-Peters, Tamara Ilic, & Mr. Joyce
Lighting & Sound Design/Board Operation
Angelina Not & Bryan Soh
Sword & Umbrella Choreography
Mr. Callum McIntyre (Sword) & Mr. Matthew Frazier-Smith (Umbrella)
Fight Captain
Ethan Fredericksen
"Air" Choreography
Ms. Mary Baxter & Ms. Natasha Koltypin
Poster/Program Art
Alex Kalashnikov
Program Editors
Ms. Carlson, Mr. Mark Chevalier, Ms. Kristin Pedroja, & Mr. Jacopo Riva
Maria Antonia Costa, Cecilia Long, & Ms. Kim Nelson
Mr. Chevalier & Mr. Nico Olvera
House Management
Moritz Mohr & Dorm Parents

Company Biographies

ELLA G. ABISI '21, USA (Peter Quince), began acting when she was five years old and is thrilled to perform in her first Shakespearean production. She has been participating in TASIS theater for four years, and you may have seen her in Seussical The Musical (Gertrude McFuzz) or Peter Pan (Peter Pan). Ella is very excited to be on the TASIS stage again and is looking forward to many more performances in the future.

JASPER BECKMEN '18, USA (King Oberon), has been performing in theater since he was 12 years old, and this is his third Shakespeare show. He has starred in Much Ado About Nothing, The Crucible, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. He was inspired to spend his life acting after watching The Help in 2011 and has been passionately pursing acting since. Jasper will be studying drama and history at university next year.

MS. VALERIE BIJUR CARLSON, USA (Director/Production Manager), is in her 19th year as a full-time theater educator. After earning her Masters from Emerson College, she made her living as a professional Equity and AGMA stage manager at such institutions as Boston Lyric Opera, the Kennedy Center, Washington Opera (under Placido Domingo), Folger Shakespeare, and Arena Stage. When she began teaching full-time, she "kept her hand in" by stage managing events in Washington, DC, with the Obamas, the cast of Mad Men, and Morgan Freeman, to name a few. She now spends summers with Berkshire Playwrights Lab in Massachusetts, mounting staged readings of new plays with directors and actors from stage, film, and TV. To the company: Hold or cut bowstrings!

JOSIP BIONDIC '21, Croatia (Tom Snout), is looking forward to portraying a character that is unlike those he has performed before. He has previously worked in versions of plays like Into The Woods and The Wizard of Oz. He wishes to follow in the footsteps of his Broadway idol Barbara Streisand and wants to thanks his past vocal teacher Ms. Maja for all her support in his career.

AMELA BUZI '20, Albania (Snug), is thrilled to be performing in her first Shakespeare play during her first year at TASIS. Along with her role as Snug, we will also see Amela portraying a lion, a challenge she is willing to take as never before. Amela's previous roles in drama productions include Èponine in Les Misérables, Nicole in The Middle Class Gentleman, and Frosine in The Miser. Inspired by the Broadway icon Carol Channing, Amela is determined to succeed as an actress in the future. Amela would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard on the play and wishes everyone a magical show.

ANNA COLLINGWOOD '20, USA (Hermia), is very excited to be portraying a lover in her first-ever school production. Her other acting experiences include two years of Drama Club at her past middle school.

MIGUEL FERNANDEZ '20, Mexico (Lysander), is very nervous but thrilled to be in the play. It is his first Shakespeare performance and his first big role. Miguel is looking forward to doing many more shows in the future.

MS. SAMANTHA FORREST, Australia (Arrangement/Music Director), began her career in music as a very young performer, first as a cellist and later as a singer. Her professional performance background includes engagements with Opera Australia, English National Opera, London Voices Covent Garden, the BBC Singers London, and the Vienna Volksoper. Internationally educated and Masters-qualified, Ms. Forrest has coordinated the TASIS schoolwide music program and served as Director of HS Music since 2012. She teaches HS music elective courses, coaches the TASIS choristers, conducts the school orchestra, and teaches voice and violoncello.

MS. LAURA FOX, USA (Peaseblossom), is excited be part of her first theater production since graduating from college. As a third grade teacher at TASIS, she's not used to spending time with students who are her height, and it's been a very refreshing experience.

MR. MATTHEW FRAZIER-SMITH, USA (Assistant Director), has choreographed, performed, and taught for many dance and theater companies in the United States and Europe, including the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Nashville Repertory Theater, Core Project Chicago, and Disney Theatrical Group. He would like to thank this particularly creative group of students for taking the risks required to construct such an imaginative, varied theatrical experience.

ETHAN POWELL FREDERICKSEN '18, USA (Puck/Theseus), is excited to perform in his first school production this year and his third overall. His other stage experiences have involved two productions of MCF: What a Life!, one professionally and one for the School, and the lead role of Trufaldino in The Servant of Two Masters. As a future theater-school applicant, Ethan is grateful for the experience this show will give him in terms of acting Shakespeare, and he is looking forward to a great performance!

ELOISE HILL '26, USA (Lilac), is thrilled to be a part of her first high school production. Eloise is currently in grade 4. Her previous theatrical experiences have included roles in TASIS Summer Program productions and last year's ES musical, Petey Peach Tree. Eloise loves to dance and hopes to someday be part of a TV production.  

IRIS KAYMAK '20, Turkey (Bluebell and Makeup Designer), is excited to play around with the perks of being a fairy—having fun with acrobatics and such—and to work collaboratively with other makeup artists in order to create a really beautiful and different-looking fairy world.

LAURA KOCKARA '20, Turkey (Helena), is nervous but also very excited to play in a Shakespearean production. She believes that this show is going to be a great success. This is her first major role, and she hopes to pull it off.

LANA KOZAK '19, Ukraine (Hyppolita), is very excited to be in her first Shakespearen production and help the costume and hair and makeup teams. Her previous roles include Mary Crist Fleming in MCF: What a Life! and Marthe in Goethe's Faust. Lana would like to express her gratitude to her co-actors and Ms. Carlson, who have supported her throughout her time in the TASIS Theater Program. She hopes to embody the best Hyppolita a Shakespearean production has ever seen.

JESSICA LANDA '18, USA (Stage Manager), is excited to see the culmination of all of the cast and crew's efforts these past few months. After three TASIS plays, she is sorry to say this is her last play. She has loved every performance she has been a part of, and she can't wait to see what her beloved thespians and crew have in store for next spring.

DR. CHRIS LOVE, USA (Flute/Thisby), has played in previous TASIS productions a serious army captain, a serious judge, and a serious lord. He feels privileged this year to take on the comic role of a bellows-mender and aspiring actress. Though he wonders, at times, exactly what he has gotten himself into, he thanks Ms. Valerie Carlson for this opportunity.

IONA LOVE, UK/USA (Cobweb), is thrilled to play a fairy in the first theater experience of her life. She has written an original script for a puppet show musical titled The Winged Bear and the Evil Tree. In her free time, she enjoys climbing trees, sculpting Play-Doh, and listening to stories about cosmos-creating lions.

ANGELINA NOT '18, Russia (Lights & Sound), is thrilled to be part of the production, despite her energy-draining life as an IB student, and she wishes to present this year's show in the "best possible light." She would like to thank her partner Bryan for bearing with her and her bad sense of humor.

SOFYA RAPPOPORT '22, Cyprus (Props Crew), is extremely glad to take part in the show as a backstage crew member. She is in 8th grade and takes drama classes with her Middle School peers. Sofya worked backstage for last spring's MS musical and would love to take part in this year's. She would like to thank Ms. Carlson and Mr. Frazier-Smith for helping her explore the TASIS Theater more and more every day.  

EVE RYAN '19, USA (Mustardseed), is very excited to be a fairy in not only her first play at TASIS but her first Shakespeare play ever. Her previous roles in drama productions include Maud in The Music Man and a sorority girl in Legally Blonde. Eve would like to thank everyone in the cast and crew for welcoming her into the drama family and, with great enthusiasm, she can't wait to partake in future productions.

IVAN SEMASHEV '18, Russia (Puck/Theseus), is delighted to take part in his last Fall Play at TASIS. Having done most of the productions that were put on during his high school career, he is excited to still be given an opportunity to do something new—specifically to portray two very different characters in one production. He is thankful to the friends and family who will be supporting him in the audience and to the company for taking on this adventure with him.

BRYAN JED SOH '18, Singapore (Lights & Sound), is excited to be behind the magic of the show in the world of lights and sound in his first-ever participation in a theatre production. His previous drama experiences include overreacting to homework assignments in class. He would like to thank Angelina for tolerating him as a partner in Lights & Sound.

SARA SONCINA, Italy (Maple/Fairy World), is on stage for the second time and is excited to be part of a Shakespearean production. She enjoyed very much being a member of the fairy world and being able to see how, piece by piece, the performance was shaped and masterfully put together under Ms. Carlson's guidance.

LUCA CONSTANTIN ZOCCHE '18, USA/Italy/Germany (Philostrate), is very excited to be playing the character Philostrate in his first ever Shakespeare play! He previously acted in two middle school plays and has continued to like theater ever since. He wishes to thank everyone for their help in being able to play this part, as he at first had his doubts when joining the theater company.

ADDITIONAL MEMBERS OF THE CAST & CREW hail from Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, Brazil, Germany, and Sweden and represent the Classes of 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Director's Note

A Midsummer Night's Dream is considered by many to be Shakespeare's finest comedy—a hefty compliment, considering that his other comedies include As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night! Remarkably, Midsummer is also an early work by Shakespeare, written in the mid-1590s—around the time he was writing his tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Truly the man was a multi-faceted, multi-tasking genius of a dramatist! This is a play about love, as many of Shakespeare's plays are, but it is also about striving for seemingly unreachable goals: simple craftspeople rehearse "courageously" to mount a perfect theatrical performance, young lovers flee fathers, dukes, and each other in their quest for perfect romance, and strong-willed rulers strategize with force and magic to restore harmony in their kingdoms. The play itself challenges us to re-examine our notions of love, marriage, power, and excellence. And it is also uproariously funny, achingly beautiful, and enjoyably witty.

So what about the setting? Why choose the mid-19th century rather than Elizabethan England?

When staging Shakespeare these days, one often discovers settings other than the original. Indeed, Shakespeare himself set the play in ancient Greece—which you might pick up from his inclusion of mythological characters Theseus and Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons), his giving his nobles names like Helena and Demetrius, and his blatant reference of the setting as Athens.

However, the play itself feels rather like England. I decided to move it forward to 1852 for many reasons. For example, as with Elizabethan England, t here is a powerful female monarch (Victoria) within a patriarchal society. The lovers act as if they are in a Romantic-era Bronte or Hugo novel, speaking in clichés that put Keats and Shelly to shame (and which Shakespeare pokes fun at later in the play). The class system is very much present, with clear distinctions of rank—true in 1595 and 1852. A love of nature runs through the script, as if a nod to Wordsworth, and Shakespeare's inclusion of fairies, spirits, and elves captures the imagination of 19th century England. I was keen to include live music featuring Romantic composers such as Mendelessohn to help transform our production. And finally, we can't forget the fabulous clothing from this time—hoop skirts, top hats, and colors, all wonderful fodder for comedy!

And, of course, outside of the noble world of Acts I and V, there are two other worlds: the magical fairy kingdom—which, with the exception of Puck, is a creation of Shakespeare's outside the typical Elizabethan view of fairies (so we costumed its king & queen in late 16th century garb—and the "homespun" working-class characters, who seem extraordinarily English in their names and professions. Tom Snout & Peter Quince are two of these...and who needs a bellows mender in Athens?

We hope you and your whole family—children through grandparents—enjoy our rendition of this classic comedy.

Ms. Carlson and the TASIS Theater Company offer special thanks to the following people:

Martyn Dukes, Simone Aeschliman, Paul Greenwood, & David Peters
Zach Mulert, Todd Bearden, Giorgio Volpi, Paul Diviani, & the fab Fall Coaches
Natalie Philpot, Mary Baxter, & Natasha Koltypin
Roberto Colombo, Michele Dinelli, & The TASIS Facilities Department
The TASIS Communications & Website staff
Lisa Wolpe, Prague Shakespeare Company, & Brigitte Dorner
Chris Nikoloff, Dr. Mark Abisi, & KC McKee
Lynn Fleming Aeschliman and the Board of Directors
the families, friends, advisors, & dorm parents of the cast and crew
and all the Dreams of the past 422 years

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