When imperiled lovers Hermia and Lysander flee Athens to the forest to wed, they are pursued by Demetrius, who also loves Hermia, and Helena, who loves Demetrius.

When imperiled lovers Hermia and Lysander flee Athens to the forest to wed, they are pursued by Demetrius, who also loves Hermia, and Helena, who loves Demetrius. Lively pranks ensue when the four cross paths with a mischievous sprite named Puck, along with feuding fairy royalty and a troupe of amateur thespians — led, or misled, by a vainglorious "ass" named Bottom.

One of William Shakespeare's most popular plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 1-3 and March 8-10, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11, in the Center Stage Theatre on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

"This play is one of the most celebrated and beloved of all time," says director David McCandless in a news release. "And it also gets produced a lot. A lot. The thing is, as a director, if you love a play and see lots and lots of productions of it and find yourself thinking, 'This isn't the play I know and love,' then that's a sure sign that it's time to direct it yourself."

Italian idealist Benedetto Croce called "A Midsummer Night's Dream" the "quintessential Shakespearean comedy because it explicitly depicts love as an altered state," notes McCandless.

Hermia (Leah Rose Sanginiti) is desired by Lysander (Gavin Douglas) and Demetrius (Shayne Hanson). Helena (Mig Windows) is in love with Demetrius. Oberon (Nik Horaites) is feuding with his wife, Titania (Shanti Ryle), and sends his court jester, Puck (Alyssa Rhoney), to charm the star-crossed lovers.

Scenic design is by Natalie Scott, costumes are designed by Hannah Wagenblast, lighting design is by Kimberly Fain and sound design is by Cullen Wright.

McCandless directed the SOU production of "You Can't Take It With You" in May 2011. He earned his doctorate in Stanford's scholar-director program and taught drama at Carleton College and the University of California at Berkeley. John Taylor of Teen Musical Theater of Oregon composed the music for the production. Ellie Leonardt choreographs.

Tickets cost $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students. Call 541-552-6348 or see www.sou.edu/theatre/patronres.