By Donavan Barrier


Michigan City, Ind.— The Dunes Summer Theatre is ready for a return after the COVID-19 crisis with two free performances this summer: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare and “Forever Plaid” by Stuart Ross.

The theater experienced a hiatus in Summer 2020 because of  the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from a few online readings, it was during this almost two-year period the revitalizing process began. The governing board members began new long-range planning and public relations strategies with new managing and artistic directors, Elise Kermani and Tito Sanchez-Williams, the duo who have taken over for artistic director Jeffrey Baumgartner and managing director Amy Black.

“We’re thrilled to be able to get back to live performances this coming summer,” said Stephen Scott, director of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The two shows were selected because of the ease to produce them and their ability to adapt as outdoor performances. The revitalization efforts include landscaping and the construction of an outside platform to create the new outside amphitheater. The new exterior-design performance space also adheres to the guidelines for social distancing.

“We knew we wanted to do two shows that were entertaining, family-friendly, and relatively easy to produce outside without lots of scenery or technical effects,” Scott said.

Another phase of revitalization includes acting, filmmaking and voice classes to draw younger audience appeal and interest and also a performance program collaboration with Friendship Gardens to team for a revue based on hit Broadway songs.

Originally built in 1940 as a place to house the Michiana Shores Theatre Colony, the Dunes Arts Foundation was created in 1951 and has been in operation ever since. It was formerly the Barnum Summer Theatre which was affiliated with the Barnum School of Acting in Chicago. It is considered one of the oldest theatre production companies in the Midwest.

“Forever Plaid” runs June 4-20 and “Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs July 9-25. Reservations are required and social distancing mandates will be followed. Details regarding the performances can be found at or by calling 219-879-7509.

Donavan Barrier is a 2019 graduate of Purdue Northwest who works in broadcast communications and journalism, including work with local PBS station WNIT in South Bend. He can be reached at