Midsummer’s Night Dream & Spectacle event at Fort East Martello welcomes all in its co-creation.
On Saturday, June 20 from 5-11 pm, historic Fort East Martello will be transformed into a magical world where all are invited to discover their dreams and creativity in celebration of Midsummer’s Eve.
The family-friendly Midsummer’s Night Dream & Spectacle—co-produced this year by Key West Art & Historical Society and Michael Shields’ Java Studios— was started 9 years ago by Shields as a way to celebrate the creative people of Key West with a night of expression, feasting, dancing, singing, and theatrical antics. The celestial holiday is steeped in ancient belief and rituals that harkens back long before Shakespeare penned his famous play of lovers and woodland sprites.
“Summer solstice is a time when the veil between this world and the next is thin, and powerful forces are at work,” says Shields. “It’s the perfect time to recognize and declare your dreams.”
The colorful festivity is an annual favorite among locals who revel in the interactive art projects and spontaneous celebration, many costumed for merrymaking in attire ranging from Key West cool and casual to Midsummer’s magical vying for the title of Solstice King and Queen.
The civil war-era fort and grounds will hold multiple stages throughout featuring artists of local and national renown—including musicians, face-painters, singers, dancers, sculptors, actors, poets, illusionists and storytellers— coming together in celestial celebration. The middle of the citadel itself will be transformed into three levels featuring Earth, Heaven and Starlight, with special effects planned to help inspire the magic and merry-making.
While the evening itself welcomes spontaneous play and creative exploration from attendees, there are several prepared highlights included: the Dream Wall with Debbie Buterbaugh, the Grand Dream Mural facilitated by artist Kate Peachey and 50 participants, Dream Projections by Nicolas Bergery an author pop-up area where writers can present readings, ambush poetry with the Key West Poetry Guild, dance performances by the fabulous Key West Comparsa, The Southernmost Shimmies, and the Southernmost Dance Theatre Youth Company, sculptural works by historic artist Stanley Papio, Shakespearean scene performances by Key West Fringe actors and tarot card readings by Mary Beth Hurd.
Music will resonate throughout the fort’s historic brick walls with performances on the main stage emceed by Jenna Stauffer and orchestrated by Skipper Kripitz to include: Larry Smith and Kathleen Peace show with special guests, George Hemund and Les Dudley on horns, Key West Soul Revue with Clayton, Calvin and Mina Lopez, Zack and Kai Seemiller, Ray Sigismondi Band, Pro Magnum featuring Ross Brown, Mike Emerson, Tyler Smith, Bubba Lownotes, Gary Rivenson, Christine Cordone, , Din Allen, Camille and Chris Toler, Bounce and OohLaLa and many more.
Libations and delectable food will be available throughout the annual fundraiser, which this year benefits Key West Art & Historical Society’s Education programs.
“The Society is very excited to host this year’s event,” says KWAHS Executive Director Michael Gieda. “As part of our growing educational offerings, what better way to celebrate the art and history of the Keys than to offer a family-friendly event showcasing the islands’ many talented artists with the historic Fort East Martello as the backdrop?”
Children of all ages will delight in good faery Joyce Straiton and friends, who will create glittery enchantment in faery-land with stardust and face painting, faery wings and hula-hooping.
Key West Art & Historical Society & Java Studios invite everyone to be a part of this playful and spontaneous celebration that tips hearts and hats to the summer solstice and the power of dreams.
“It all begins with a dream,” says Shields.
This year’s event is particularly poignant for Shields, who tragically lost his son last week. Jason Shields would have celebrated his 40th birthday on that evening, and Michael hopes the community will come together to remember both the impermanence of life and the magic that is offered in it while we are here together.
Fort East Martello is located at 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd., Key West. Parking is available on site. Tickets will be available at the door for $15 or $10 in advance by visiting www.KWAHS.org. KWAHS members pay only $10 at any time, children 12 and under admitted free. For more information and to volunteer, contact Christine Nottage at 305. 295.6616 x 111. Interested artists contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 305-394-3804.