The forthcoming production from The courtyard's Senior Youth Theatre is A Midsummer Night's Dream, but director Dan Pegler, himself a graduate of the youth theatre scheme, promises a production unlike any you've seen up til now.

Dan himself started at youth theatre when he was in Year 8, first taking to the stage in Oliver! going on to appear as Demetrius in an earlier production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the venue - we did it as part of the Shakespeare Youth Festival and went on tour - I remember we performed at the Cavern Club and on the streets in Liverpool.

"I do have a soft spot for A Midsummer Night's Dream," Dan admits. "It's stuck with me ever since."

After school Dan went to HCA to do a two-year course which gave him a national diploma, the equivalent of A levels, before moving on to Swansea Metropolitan University for an applied theatre course. "I knew I wanted to teach (rather than act) when I left youth theatre," he reveals.

It was fate, he recalls. "I'd never thought of doing anything to do with drama, and I was never very good in school plays. But when I got to secondary school I went to an event the library was doing to promote literature for young people, my school having picked me as one of the people they'd like to go - it meant I got to miss a few days of school"

In the event though, "it was just such a brilliant experience. Creating your own little play from a book - I was the narrator and from there the passion grew. Then my mum saw that there were auditions for Oliver and it went from there. I said then that I was going to go and be an actor!

"I liked the applause and the spotlight, but then it came to year 10 and I wanted to do work experience here at The Courtyard. Unfortunately I'd missed all the available places so Whitecross said I could teach drama at the school. For the first two days I made tea for everybody. Then on the third day they said I could plan a lesson based on racism. So I did this whole plan and the teacher asked if I wanted to run it at the next session. Afterwards, two of the boys said that it was the best lesson they had ever had in drama, and from that moment I felt there was something more rewarding about teaching a lesson and seeing someone act that acting myself. My last performance was in The History Boys in 2010."

"I started helping out on Saturdays at youth theatre and taking every opportunity that came along, and while I was at university I was often asked if I was free to do things. The Courtyard," he adds, "is like a second home. They've helped me find my feet. And as I was leaving university, not knowing what I was going to do, I got a call from David Durant saying that a practitioner had slipped a disc and could I help out on Saturdays."

That was three and a half years ago and this year Dan directs his first main stage production, which sees him return to A Midsummer Night's Dream, but with a very distinctive twist, as he explains: "I'd always felt that Oberon was someone who didn't like to get his hands dirty and that that was a very Godfather-like trait. So I thought, let's look at that. So I researched the Mafia, as I knew I couldn't do it for no reason, but it felt that everything that happened in Sicily in the 20s just fitted around the play."

Radically, he has also decided to take out the magic ... and the donkey. "The idea now is that Bottom gets turned into one of the Mafia, and that's why Titania falls in love with him ...."

I'm extremely proud of what the cast has had to achieve. Not only have they had to learn the Shakespearean language and a new play, but then I told them that we;re not doing it that way. To begin with they said it sounded crazy, but they went along with it and now they are absolutely loving it and they're buzzing when they leave every session. This is a really interestying way of doing this and we're all really enjoying the challenge.

It's just been so rewarding for me becuase I have never been able to have ownership of the style that a play's going to be in, but it makes me feel that I was at this stage a few years ago and I want to insprie the young people. It's not just about picking up a play and doing it. YOu can have the freedom to play and take risks in the theatre.

A Midsumemr Nights Dream runs from Thursday, July 27 to Saturday July 29. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit