Pioneer Public: Jenny Hoppes and Odessa Smith

Written By Tia Bailey, Co-Features/A&E Editor

The future is female for COPA students Jenny Hoppes and Odessa Smith.

Hoppes and Smith are the student directors of Pinnacle Productions’ pioneering take on gender with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Class of 2022 students are excited to be directing the show, as previous shows they were directing were shut down due to COVID-19.

“I directed ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie two years ago at PPU,” Hoppes said. “Unfortunately, we were shut down due to the pandemic. The cast was really special, and the show was breathtaking, so I wish the campus had been able to see it.”

Smith also was directing a show when the pandemic hit.

“My most recent piece that I was working on before the pandemic shut us down was ‘21 Chump St.’,” Smith said. “It is a 15 minute musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who Wrote ‘Hamilton’.”

Now that students are back on campus, the two teamed up with a vision for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ a Shakespeare play. Smith, a senior B.A. Performances and Practices Major, said that Hoppes came to her with the idea and that she also decided she was in.

“Jenny had approached me at some point in the summer with this idea to do an all-female production of Shakespeare,” she said. “I said that sounds dope as h***. She then said would you want to be my co-director, and I said me? She had already pre-filled out the application for Pinnacle, showed it to me, and even though my nerves surrounding Shakespeare were there, I was with someone who not only believed in us working together but also the vision.”

Hoppes had worked with Shakespeare pieces her freshman year of college and wanted to try out writing a script for one of his pieces.

“Odessa and I talked a lot about the process and ended up having this amazing idea that we just had to share with the school,” Hoppes said. “She has such a great artistic mind, and we continuously read each other’s minds when it comes to ideas for the piece. Odessa keeps me grounded and has been such a blessing already. Shakespeare is a scary medium to direct as students, but I think we are the pair that will make it happen.”

The duo are excited to bring a femme-twist to Shakespeare to campus.

“Traditionally, Shakespearean texts were only allowed to be spoken by cis-white men,” Hoppes said. “This went on for hundreds of years, and some traditional companies still work this way today. Why not flip the script? Having a cast of all female-identifying and non-binary individuals breaks down the barriers of Shakespearean text. The divine feminine energy in our piece will speak for itself.”

Smith says that the show will be special because of the new look to Shakespearean style.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but one thing we are attempting to achieve with this show is revamping the Shakespeare look to a new age,” Smith said.

The duo also wants students to know that for the show on Halloween, the audience is welcomed (and encouraged) to dress up to “really immerse themselves in the Dreamland,” according to Hoppes. Smith invites students to dress up as your favorite woodland creatures, fairies, princesses and more to the Halloween show.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will take place from Oct. 29 through Nov. 1.