Dramaturgical PowerPoint for "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare Dramaturgical PowerPoint compiled by Thomas Canfield Production Dramaturg
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Part II: A Sampling of ArtisticRepresentationsand Illustrations
Act IFaun and the Fairies by Daniel Maclise (c. 1834)
Illustration by Arthur Rackham“the moone, like to a silver bow/Now-bent in heaven.”
Egeus comesbefore Theseusand Hippolyta to complain against his daughter, Hermia.Demetrius andLysander flankthem on either side, while Philostrate looks on.
Helena overhears theaudience with the Duke. Illustration by Arthur Rackham (1908)
Helena and Hermia, Illustration by Arthur Rackham (1908)Hermia informs Helena of Lysander’s plan to elope to “the wood,where often you and I/ Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,/Emptying our bosomsof their counsel sweet.”
Hermia and Helena byAmerican artist Washington Allston (1818)
Edward John Poynter, Helena and Hermia, (1901)
The players meet todiscuss their parts. Bottom says,“Let me play the lion too.” Illustration by Arthur Rackham, (1908)
Bottom makes his case:“I will make the duke say, ‘Lethim roar again, let him roar again.’”
The Disenchantment of Bottom by Daniel Maclise (1832) Bottom sits in front of a hollow tree and he seems to awaken from a nightmare rather than a dream. Two hag-like figures, not as we imagine Shakespeares Peaseblossom, Mustardseed, Cobweb and Moth, are on either side of his head, an image that reminds us of the ears of an ass that have just been removed when the enchantment ended. One of these ugly little creatures pulls open his eyelid and the other blasts a trumpet in his ear. On his knee sits a small figure reading over his script for Pyramus and Thisbe, and overhead the reconciledOberon and Titania float in a sensuous kiss. Many figures, all of them sinister and deformed, hover around Bottom creating a circular frame with him in the center. A grimacing figure in the upper left-handcorner looks like the devil himself and in the lower left-hand corner a ringlet of fairies dance around the figure of Pan playing a pipe and sitting on a pedestal.
Act VWilliam Blake, Oberon and Titania on a Lily
The hunting partysurprises the sleepinglovers in the forest.
Illustration for the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe from a1538 edition of Ovid’sMetamorphosis
Bookillustration of Bottomperforming the role of Pyramus
Thisbe, or the Listener by John William Waterhouse (1909)
Painting depicting Pyramus and Thisbeby Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472- 1553)
Painting by German artist Niklaus Manuel Deutsch (1520)of Pyramusand Thisbe
Pyramus and Thisbe (1530) by German artistHans Baldung (Grien)
Pyramus and Thisbe by Italian painter Gregorio Pagani (1558-1605)
17th century depiction of the story of Pyramusand Thisbe
Oberon and Titania enter the palace after thewedding festivities have concluded and all themortals have gone to bed.
Reunited,Oberon and Titania preside over fairy revels
William Blake,Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing (c. 1786)
Part III: Some Famous (and Not-SoFamous) Actorsand Productions 16th century English woodcut of Robin Goodfellow
The varying fortunes of A Midsummer Nights Dream as a stage play give interesting insights into the history of the theatre and the variations of public taste through the centuries. Allusions by Shakespeare’s contemporaries and successors show that the play was exceedingly popular until the closing of the theatres by the Puritans in 1642. In 1602, theinterlude of Pyramus and Thisbe was imitated by the students of St. Johns College, Oxford, in a burlesque titled Narcissus, a Twelfth Night Merriment. Ben Jonson took some hints from the fairy scenes for The Masque of Oberon the Fairy Prince (1611). Illustration of Puck, from Robin Goodfellow, His Mad Pranckes and Merry Jests (1639).
During the Commonwealth(1642-1660), when theatres were closed and performance wasforbidden, the play was adapted into a droll titled The Merry Conceits of Bottom the Weaver. “Drolls” or “droll-humors,” as they were often called, were farces or humorous scenesadapted from current plays and staged, for the most part, on extemporized scaffolds at taverns and fairs. Robert Cox, the leading performer of drolls, countedBottom the Weaver in his actingrepertoire. This particular droll is essentially an abridgment of the Mechanicals scenes.Right: Title page to Francis Kirksman’s published collection of drolls (1662)
Frontispiece illustration to Kirkman’s collection. Notice thatone of the characters (inset below) is called “Changling.”
Immediately after the Restoration of Charles II (1660) and the reopening of the theatres, the droll version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was published to match “the general mirth that is likely very suddenly to happen about the King’s Coronation,” according to its title page.The only direct evidence of a Restoration production of the play occurs in Samuel Pepys’s diary entry in 1662. Pepys was less than impressed withthe performance that he saw, terming it “the most insipid ridiculous playthat ever I saw in my life.” Although Pepys did enjoy “some good dancing and some handsome women,” he added, that was “all my pleasure.” The editor of Pepys Diary, Henry Wheatley, notes that, “this seems to be theonly mention of the acting of Shakespeare’s play at this time, and it does not appear to have been a favourite.” The play as it was originally written was seldom performed during the Restoration, and never performed in the eighteenth-century. There is no evidence of any other revival of the play until a single disastrousperformance in 1763. Instead, it was adapted many times as a backdrop for opera and spectacle.
In 1692, A Midsummer Night’s Dream,under the title of The Fairy Queen, began a long and variegated career as an opera.Henry Purcell, the great English musician, composed the instrumental and vocalparts, and the masque included elaborate dances, with scenery and mechanical effects that surpassed anything seen in England before. The central action of the play was mostly preserved, but the interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe was moved to Act II, and its place was taken by an elaborate masque, including a duet by a Chinese man and woman, and a dance by six monkeys.Additional attractions included three poets, two dragons, two swans who turn intofairies and dance, four savages, and a troop of fauns, dryads and naids.
Pyramus and Thisbe was the title of a “comic masque”presented in 1710, and of a “mock opera” performed in 1745 at Covent Garden. During David Garrick’s management of Drury Lane, he presented two highly altered productions. The first was The Fairies, an opera by J.C. Smith (1755). In this version, the “rude mechanicals” did not appear at all.In 1763, Garrick presented highly cut version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but the public was disappointed and the single performance was considered a disaster. The play was quickly reworked into a farce titled A Fairy Tale, which opened three days after its parent production’s debacle. It became a fairly successful afterpiece that remained in theDrury Lane repertory until 1787. This version was also revived at the Haymarket in 1777.
Depiction of eighteenth centuryEnglish actress and singer Jane (Jenny)Barsanti (fl. 1778, died 1795) as Helena, Act III, scene i.As portrayed by John Roberts in Bell’s Edition of Shakespeare’s works (published 1 March 1776).Although she was an extremely popular actress, there is no actual record ofBarsanti having appeared in this role in a production on the London stage, a curious phenomenon that is common with many of eighteenth century artistic renditions, according to Allardyce Nicholl’s The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the Eighteenth Century.
Portrait ofThomas Alphonso Hayley (1780-1800) as Puck (c.1790) by English artist George Romney
Portrait of Emma (Lady Hamilton) as Titania with Puck and Changeling (1793) by George Romney
Lady Hamilton(1765-1815), was the Mistress of Lord (Horatio) Nelson (1758-1805). She achievedcelebrity through her beauty,personal vitality, and skills as a performer.
Lady Hamilton is principally remembered as the “muse” of artist George Romney,and for her affair with Nelson. The affair was an international scandal, and when, at Nelson’s death in 1805, he entrusted Emma’s care to the nation, this request was ignored by the government. Lady Hamilton died a pauper in France in 1813.
Lady Hamilton depicted in the role of Miranda in The Tempest, as painted by George Romney
English actressElizabeth Farren (1759?-1829) in the role of Hermia
The caption states, “MISS FARREN in the character ofHERMIA (Starting from Sleep).” Notice her clutching for the serpent in her bosom.
Called the “Queen ofComedy” by contemporaryHorace Walpole, Elizabeth Farren was the star of Drury Lane for 20 years until her marriage toEdward Smith Stanley, the12th Earl of Derby, in 1797.Noted for her vivacity andstyle, she frequently took leading roles in plays by Colman, Sheridan and other contemporary authors.
Playbill for a performance of AMidsummer Nights Dream, 17 January 1816, at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden.This adaptation of the play was undertaken and produced byFrederic Reynolds (1764-1841).Reynolds laced his adaptation with a cornucopia of crowd-pleasing devices, including low comedy, disguise, spectacular entrances, musical numbers, pageants, and flying.
Other than the playbill,the only surviving visual evidence of Reynolds’s production is this engraving of performerJohn Duruset as Oberon (published 1819).
The first known performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream in America took place at the Park Theatre, New York, on 9 November 1826. It was revived at the same theatre in 1841, with legendary actress Charlotte Cushman in a “breeches role” as Oberon. This production played only one week.Right:Portrait of CharlotteCushman(1816-76)
W. E. (WilliamEvans) Burton (1802-1860)as Bottom, in Act IV, scene iiBurton achieveda triumph in the character of Bottom in a magnificent setting at his New YorkTheatre in 1854.
Burton, who often went by thenickname “Billy,” was an English- born comedian, magazine editorand theatre manager who came to the United States in 1834. Burton made his first New Yorkappearance in 1837, but maintainedPhiladelphia as his base for several years, acting and running theatres there. In New York (1848), he turnedPalmo’s decaying Opera House intoBurton’s Chambers Street Theatre,where he presented several seasons mainly of old comedies, burlesques, and dramatizations of popular novels.Over the years, he also presented anumber of Shakespearean revivals, which were deemed among the best of the era.
Contemporary Joseph Jefferson recalled that,“Burton’s features were strongand heavy, and his figure was portly and ungainly.” On Burton’s acting, Jeffersonrecalled that, “Burton colored highly, and laid on the effect with a liberal brush.” In 1867-68, Jefferson’s ownproduction of the play at NewYork’s Olympic theatre ran for a hundred nights.
English actress and singer Eliza Vincent (1815-56) in the role of Oberon Reportedly the daughter of aLambeth newsvendor, Vincent went on to experience success at DruryLane, Covent Garden and the Royal Vic theatres. She was called “the acknowledged heroine of domestic drama.” After ascandalous elopement with actor and theatre manager David W Osbaldiston in 1834, Vincent eventually became manager of the Royal Vic theatre, a position which she held until her death.
-1840-With Romantic sentiment in the air, and a stress on dreamsand the supernatural, as well as a delight in wild landscapes, the time was ripe for a new vision for the play.At London’s Covent Garden theatre, Madame Vestris (1797- 1856) reversed the theatrical fortunes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by employing her knowledge of flyingmachinery, ballet, and more historically accurate scenic and costume design. Vestris also employed judicious editing practices (this was one of the first relatively uncut productions of the play), and music from Felix Mendelssohn’s overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1826) to establish a tradition that would dominate the nineteenth-century approach to staging the play. Vestris played the role of Oberon in the production, with another female in the role of Puck, beginning a tradition of Above:female Oberons and Pucks that lasted for seventy years. The Madame Vestris as production was hailed as a critical success. Oberon
Playbill for another productionof A Midsummer Nights Dreamon 29 April 1842, at the Theatre Royal Williamson Square.
Bottom was esteemed to be one of the greatest comic roles of English actor Samuel Phelps (1804-78), who conducted a notable series ofShakespearean revivals at Sadler’s Wells theatre, starting in 1844. Phelps revolutionized the Shakespeareanproduction of plays by restoring the original text of the first folio. He staged all but four of Shakespeares plays at Sadler’s Wells, some of which had not been performed since their premieres at the Globe Theatre.His production A Midsummer Nights Dream in 1853 (in which he played Bottom, a role hereprised for over 20 years) was also remarkable. The production marked the first time that gas was used as a stage illuminant. The play also introduced the use of a seamless, diaphanousblue net, the same size as the act-drop, to give a “misty effect” to the fairy scenes.
Fanny Cooper (a.k.a. Mrs. T.H. Lacy, 1819-72) as Helena Frances Dalton Lacy, a capable and intelligentactress, was born in London. Her first appearance inLondon was at the Haymarket in 1838. She then became amember of Madame Vestris’scompany at Covent Garden in 1840. In 1842, she married actor, theatrical publisher and playwright Thomas Hailes Lacy.
After three years at Covent Garden,Fanny Cooper went to Sadler’s Wellstheatre, where she held a prominent position for several seasons as Samuel Phelps’s leading comic actress.
An unidentified 19th century production: Actress (andacquaintance of CharlesDickens), Maria Ternan (1835-1903) as Titania.
-1856- Charles Kean (1811-68) revived the play in its original form, albeit with a Victorian sensibility, at the Princess Theatre in London.The part of Puck was assigned to “a blond roguish girl” about ten years old who, under the name of Ellen Terry, was to be a favorite interpreter of Shakespearean roles for English-speaking audiences for half a century. In Kean’s production, Bottom was played by Harley, one of the leading comic actors of the day. On his deathbed a few years later, Harley’s lastwords were a quotation from this role: “I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.”
An actor and stage manager, Charles Kean was the second son of Edmund Kean. Determined to become an actor, he made his first appearance at Drury Lane in 1827, but his failure to achieve popularity led him to leave London the following year for the provinces. His next London appearancewas in 1833, but his success wasstill not pronounced enough for him to remain in the capital.
In 1838, Keane returned toDrury Lane and played Hamletwith a success that placed himamong the principal tragedians of his time. In 1850, when he became jointlessee of the Princess Theatre, one noteworthy feature of his management was a series ofhighly regarded Shakespearean revivals.
Charles Kean as Mamillius andEllen Terry in her stage debut (atthe age of eight) as Leontes in in The Winters Tale (1856) at the Princess Theatre. During the course of this long- running production, Terry performed the role 102 times. Areview in The Times described her performance as “vivacious and precocious.” That same year, she also went onto play Puck in Kean’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A Midsummer Nights Dreamplaybill for a 27 October 1856performance at Kean’s Princess Theatre, featuring Ellen Terryin the role of Puck.
Dame (Alice) Ellen Terry (1847-1928), shown here in therole of Lady Macbeth
Carlotta Leclercq (1838-93) playedTitania in Kean’s 1856 production ofA Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Princess’s Theatre.
Leclercq asTitania, flanked by four fairy attendants
This slide and following: two scenic designs for Kean’s production
Playbill for a performance of AMidsummer Nights Dream on 9 March 1858 at the Princess Theatre, again featuring Ellen Terry in the role of Puck.
Two “breeches” roles: Julia Harland as Oberon and a Miss Conquest as Puck in a production that marked the 31 March 1851 opening of theGrecian Saloon in London under the management of George Conquest.The Miss Conquest depicted here was most likely one of George Conquest’s elder daughters (Amelia, Laura, or Isabella)
Julia Harland was the granddaughter of famous English actor William Wallack (c.1794-1864); she also was the sister of J.W. Wallack, Jr. (1818-73), who had adistinguished career on the American stage.She eventually married William Hoskin andacted in the U.S. under the name of Julia Wallack; however, appeared on the lyricstage in England under the name of Julia Harland.
Actress Lizzie Weston in a breeches role as Oberon
English actress Lizzie Weston (nee Elizabeth Jackson, died 1899), was the former wife of F.H. Davenport and of William West; later, she married Charles James Mathews.
Playbill for a performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 30 June 1863, to raise money for a national monument to Shakespeare. Plays performed included Romeo andJuliet, King John, As You Like It, Henry IV Part I, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Nights Dream.
In 1873, Augustin Daly produced the play at the Grand Opera House in New York, complete with the panoramic passage of Theseus’s barge in the last two acts.
-9 July 1895-Augustin Daly’s run of 21 performances of AMidsummer Night’s Dream at Daly’s Theatre (London) opened. The players were: George Clarke as Theseus, Frank Worthing as Demetrius, John Craig as Lysander, James Lewis as Bottom, MaxineElliott as Hermia, Ada Rehan as Helena, PercyHaswell as Oberon, Sybil Carlisle as Oberon, and Lillian Swain as Puck.
Lewis in the role of Touchstone from As You Like It
Lillian Swain played the role of Puck in Daly’s production
An interesting note to Daly’s production is that a young Isadora Duncan played one of the fairies (as shown at left). Duncan, who met Daly in 1896, traveled to England to perform with the company.
Czech actor JindřichMošna (actor at theNational Theatre in Prague) as Thisbe (1884)
One of theleading figures of the CzechNational Theatre in the latter half of the 19th century, Mošna (1837-1911), appeared in more than 500 tragicomic and comical roles during his professional career. He entered the theatre as the owner of atravelling theatre in The BarteredBride and Vocílka in The Bagpiper of Strakonice.
-1900-Swedish-Norwegian actress Harriet Bosse (1878-1961) as Puck
Bosse is today most famously remembered for being the third wife ofSwedish playwright August Strindberg. These photos depict her inthe role of Indra’s daughterfrom Swindberg’s A Dream Play.
British actor and theatre manager F.R Benson (1858-1939) founded his Shakespearean company in 1883. A Midsummer Nights Dream was one of the most successful plays in the repertoire of the company, which acted at the Globe Theatre and made extensive tours in the English provinces. The concept for the production under Benson remained broadly the same from the 1880s into the 1920s. Benson also managed the Globe theatre for one season in 1890; his production of A Midsummer Nights Dream began on 19 December.Playbill advertising Benson’s production at the Globe, 1890
Sir FrancisRobert Benson (1858-1939),was commonlyknown as FrankBenson or F. R. Benson. His company, founded in1883, produced all but two of Shakespeares plays.
Benson as Lysander (left) and Caliban in The Tempest (right)
-1900-Frank Benson’s company gave seven performances ofA Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Lyceum Theatre (London) in February. Benson played Lysander and his wife, ConstanceBenson, played Titania. Others in the cast were Lily Brayton as Helena, Ada Ferrar as Hermia, H. R. Hignett as Demetrius, Kitty Loftus as Puck, and Frank Rodney as Oberon.
Playbill for a performance of AMidsummer Nights Dream on 16 December 1901 at the TheatreRoyal Birmingham, featuring F.R. Benson’s company.
-20 April 1908- Benson opened the Stratford-upon-AvonShakespeare Festival with productions of Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Lady Constance Benson asTitania in front of the wall at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. She played Titania six times between 1888 and 1911 inStratford productions of the play directed by her husband. The part of Bottom was playedby George R. Weir, who appeared in the play five times between 1888 and 1908.
Constance Benson out of costume (left), and in the role of Lady Macbeth (right)
Murray Carrington (1885-1941) as OberonCarrington, posed at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, played the role ofOberon four times between 1908 and1919. The first three productions weredirected by Sir Frank Benson; the lastwas under the direction of W. Bridges- Adams. Posed with him here is an unidentified actor . Carrington made his first stageappearance in 1904, and the next year he played his first Shakespearean role in Cymbeline at the Queen’s Theatre, Manchester.Carrington spent eight years with Frank Benson’s company and played many major Shakespearean roles.
Another photograph, taken outside the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford, depicts two unidentifiedactors in the roles of NickBottom and Francis Flute as Pyramus and Thisbe.
-10 January 1900- Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s spectacularly lavish production of A Midsummer Nights Dream ran for 153 performances (January 10-May 26) at Her Majesty’s Theatre (London). Reportedly, live rabbits were used on the set to make the forest more realistic. Tree played Bottom while his wife, Maud Holt, played Titania. Other players in his company were William Mollison as Theseus, Dorothea Baird as Helena, Gerald Lawrence as Demetrius, Sarah Brooke as Hermia, Lewis Waller as Lysander, Julia Neilson as Oberon, and Louie Ferrar as Puck.
-Fall 1903- The sumptuous New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, New York, opened with a naturalistic production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.The lavish production, which ran for three weeks, featured elaborate settings and costumes.Victor Herbert, the popular composer of operettas, arranged Felix Mendelssohn’s score of the incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream that accompanied the production.
The scene depicted in the photograph seems to be Act II, scene i (the confrontation of Titania and Oberon), with the Indian Prince kneeling in the foreground of the picture.
Nat C. Goodwin played the role of Bottom in the production.Nat Carl Goodwin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and started on the stage in 1874, chiefly performing in vaudeville and burlesque.He played several Shakespeare roles in his career, including Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (1901).Goodwin tried his hand on the stagein England, but had little luck there.One of his great successes was his part of Fagin in a stage adaptation of Dickenss Oliver Twist. In 1914 he published an autobiography, titled Nat Goodwins Book.
-(1905 to 1907)-Walter Hampden, the “Dean of the American theatre” (1879-1956) played Oberon in three productions at the Adelphi in London. Hampden as Oberon
Walter Hampden Dougherty was born in New YorkCity, but he began his stage career in Englandwhere he learned his craft as a player in FrankBenson’s company. In 1907, Hampden returned toNew York, where he became identified with anumber of Shakespearean roles: Shylock, Hamlet,Othello, Oberon, Macbeth, and Romeo.In 1925, he acquired the Colonial Theatre in NewYork and renamed it Hampden’s Theatre. There, heestablished a repertory theatre that included theplays of Shakespeare. As late as 1947, Hampden wasstill acting, taking on the role of Cardinal Wolsey inHenry VIII. Hampden’s last Shakespeareanengagement was in 1949 (he was 69) when he madehis television debut as Macbeth. Hampden died in1956 at the age of 77 without ever formally retiringfrom acting and producing.In addition to his full life in the theatre, he playedin eighteen films between 1915 and 1956. Hampdenplayed his last role in 1956, the year of his death, asKing Louis XI in the film The Vagabond King.
Beatrice Ferrar made her stage debut and played her first part in a Shakespeare play simultaneously in 1887, Another when she debuted in Eastbourne at the Theatre postcard Royale as Peaseblossom in A image of Midsummer Nights Dream.Hampdenas Oberon; She was only a child when she here, joined Frank Bensonsflanked by company in 1888 and played Beatrice children’s parts in his Ferrar as Shakespeare plays. Puck Ferrar first appeared on the London stage in 1890. In 1905, she played Puck to Walter Hampden’s Oberon in A Midsummer Nights Dream.
Hampden and Ferrar were joined by two other notable performers of theearly 20th century: Oscar Asche (1871- 36) as Bottom and his wife, Lily Brayton (1876-1953) as Helena.These two photos show Lily Brayton in the role of Helena.
Brayton and Asche collaboratedoften as actorsand managers. Brayton made her first stage appearance in1896 with Frank Bensons company. She remained with the troupe forsome time, and played many Shakespeareanroles, appearing several seasonsin the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Herlast appearanceon the stage was as Portia in Julius Caesar.
Oscar Asche as Bottom (left),and out of costume (below).
Annie Russell (1864-1936) as Puck in a 1906-7production at the Astor Theatre in New York
Dubbed the "Duse of the English- speaking stage," Annie Russell wasborn in Liverpool, England but raised in Canada. This “frail, darkish woman with a slightly lugubrious face” made her stage debut in 1872. Her New York debut came in 1879.Afterwards, Russell toured North and South America, as well as Australia. In 1881, she scored a huge success inNew York with her brilliant portrayal in Esmerelda. She retired from the stage for three seasons, but returned in 1894 and regained her popularity.
Russell first played London in 1898, and in 1905 created George BernardShaw’s heroine in Major Barbara. She also gave memorable performances as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1906-07), Viola in Twelfth Night (1909) and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (1912). In her final, active years Russell organized the Old English Comedy Company, where she played such roles as Kate Hardcastle, Beatrice, Lydia Languish, and Lady Teazle inSchool for Scandal. She retired in 1918 to head the dramatic program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where subsequently theAnnie Russell Theatre was named in her honor.
This card (right) is an advertisementfor Annie Russell’s appearance in AMidsummer Nights Dream.The advertisement on the side says, “Miss Annie Russell, who willappear at the NewMontauk Theatre in Midsummer Night’s Dream, week of October 22d.” Russell wascelebrated for her performance as Puck in the play.
German actor HansWassmann (1873-1932)as Nick Bottom (1909), as painted byEmil Orlik
In 1911, Beerbohm Tree repeated the triumph of his production of AMidsummer Night’s Dream that he had experienced ten years earlier. Below is a costume design sketch by Percy Anderson for Oberon in Tree’s production.
-17 April 1911-Arthur Bourchier staged A Midsummer Night’ s Dream at His Majesty’s Theatre, London.Bourchier played Bottom, with Gerald Lawrence as Theseus, Basil Gill as Lysander, Evelyn DAlroy as Oberon, and Margery Maude as Titania
Evelyn D’Alroy (1882- 1915, right) andMargery Maude (1889- 1979, right)as Oberon and Titania in Arthur Bourchier’s production.
Evelyn D’Alroy’s careerwas cut short when she died at the age of 33.She first appeared on the stage in 1902.D’Alroy played severalShakespearean roles, including Ophelia, Portia, and Oberon.Who Was Who in theTheatre reports thather favorite part was Ophelia.
Margery Maude was a noted Englishactress of stage, screen and television.After moving to the U.S., she appearedon Broadway in a long career between 1913 and 1965.
-1914- Harley Granville-Barker’s production at the Savoy was termed a triumph of gorgeousdecorativeness. The fairies had gilded body-paint and gold-bronze dresses that jangled as they moved. The background was green and purple, with Puck as a single patch ofscarlet. Adhering closely to the original text, the lines were delivered at a normal, fast- moving pace, rather than the drawn-out oration that had been the norm.
The palace of Theseus in Granville-Barker’s production.
Poster advertising Granville-Barker’sproduction at the Savoy
Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946)In 1915, after 99 performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Granville-Barker set off for New York, where his production was presented at Wallack’s Theatre.
Donald Calthrop as Puck (below, right) in Granville- Barker’s production
Calthrop, the nephew of celebrated playwright Dion Boucicault, made his stage debut in 1906 at the Comedy Theatre; his first part in a Shakespeare play was as Solanio in The Merchant of Venice. He also managed the King’s Way Theatre in 1923, and produced revivals of Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Nights Dream. Calthrop had an active career in films as well. Starting in 1916 with Wanted: A Widowand ending with Shaws Major Barbara in 1940, the year of his death, he appeared in 63 films, including five films by Alfred Hitchcock. The above stills are from Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929).
An advertising card forWallack’s Theatre in New York,featuring Lillah McCarthy, thewife of Granville-Barker, in the role of Helena. Granville-Barker brought hiscompany to Wallack’s Theatre in New York from the Savoy Theatre, London, in 1915.
Norman Wilkinson designed twooutfits for Lillah McCarthy in the role of Helena. For her first scene, and later in thewood near Athens, she appeared in a dress of white crêpe-de-chine with a stenciled border. She also had twocloaks, one in grey, the other in green lined with white.The costume here is her second dress,also of white crêpe-de-chine, worn for the wedding celebration in the final scene. Its cut and shape are based onclassical sources, but Wilkinson usedpink stenciled flowers to create a look that was modern and English. The costume was completed with mauve shoes and red beads, and Helena’s long blonde tresses were decorated with a wreath of flowers.
Wilkinson’s costumes for Helena, and Oberon in theproduction (left)
Postcard key sheet depicting various actors in Granville-Barker’s production
Christine Silver (1883-1960)played Titania in Granville- Barker’s production.
Silver out of costume. She was thewife of WalterMaxwell, and was later married to Ronald Sturgis.
Ernest Cossart (1876-1951) played the role of Bottom in Granville- Barker’s production.
Three unidentified actors in thePyramus and Thisbe play, although this could possibly beCossart in the role of Pyramus
P.L Travers (1899-1988) was anAustralian author and journalist, best known for her popular series ofchildren’s books featuring the timeless character of Mary Poppins.Travers began her career as an actress, before turning to journalism in her twenties.The photo at right shows her is in the role of Titania, ca. 1920s.
This photo shows the 23- year old Vivien Leigh, on the verge of stardom as Scarlett O’ Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939), inthe role of Titania the Old Vic (1937-38), directed by Tyrone Guthrie. One reviewer noted:“Vivien Leigh’s Titania was a bewitching partner tothis Oberon: as graceful as he, beautiful as a fairy princess, silver of tongue and meltingly seductive.”
Headdress designed by Oliver Messel(1904-78), Britain’s leading designer,which was worn by Vivien Leigh in Tyrone Guthrie’s production. For the flowers, Messel used metallic paper, chandelier drops, metal discs andcellophane to subtly convey the fantasy and inhumanelements of the fairy queen, as well as a sense of steely character.
Guthrie sought to reconcile Elizabethan comedy with the Old Vic’s early Victorian architecture (1833) andMendelssohn’s (1809-1847) earlyVictorian incidental music. He said that the music was “redolent of crimson and goldopera houses, of operatic fairiesin white muslin flying throughgroves of emerald canvas” (Old Vic Theatre Program, 27 December 1937).A. E. Wilson reported that Leigh was “like an exquisite picture from some Victorian lady’s keepsake.” This costume sketchfor indicates the flowing lines of her early Victorian style white muslin dress, which Messel decorated with flowers and accessorized with insect wings.
Robert Helpmann (1909-1986), a ballet dancer and actor, played Oberon.Messel designed a dark costumedecorated with organic motifs incontrasting bright, shimmering fabrics in gold, blue and yellow with red wings. The design sketch here also indicates Oberon’s heavy, blue eye makeup used in the production.
-1937-Royal Shakespeare Company productionDirected by Martin E. Browne and designed by Norman Wilkinson.
Left to right, Starveling/Moonshine (Gerald Kay Souper), Bottom/Pyramus (Baliol Holloway), Snout/Wall (Dennis Roberts), Flute/Thisbe (Richard Blatchley), Quince (Randle Ayrton). Pyramus and Thisbe communicate through a chink in the wall. Act 5, Scene 1
-1938- Royal Shakespeare Company productionDirected by Andrew Leigh and also designed by Norman Wilkinson.
Bottom (Jay Laurier) and Titania (Valerie Tudor) encircled by fairy attendants. Act 4, Scene 1
Oberon (Francis James, left) watches the enraptured Bottom (Jay Laurier) and Titania (Valerie Tudor). Act 4 Scene 1
-1944-Swedish actress Gaby Stenberg (b. 1923) played Titania in A Midsummer Nights Dream at the opening of Malmö City Theatre (Sweden).
-1949- Oberon andTitania in aBristol Old Vicproduction
-1949-Royal Shakespeare Company production, directed by Michael Benthall and designed by James Bailey. Titania (Kathleen Michael) and fairy attendants.
Puck (Philip Guard,center) watches in glee as Quince (Bertram Shuttleworth, right) cowers before a transformed Bottom (John Slater, left), Act 3 Scene 1.
Oberon (William Squire,upper left) and Puck (PhilipGuard, upper right) examine the sleeping Bottom (JohnSlater) and Titania (Kathleen Michael). Act 4 Scene 1
-1954-Royal Shakespeare Company production,directed by George Devin and designed by Motley.
Puck (David OBrien, left)returns with themagic flower for Oberon (PowysThomas, right) toenchant Titania’s eyes. Act 2, Scene 1
A bewitched Lysander (Tony Britton) attempting to woo a shocked and perplexed Helena (Barbara Jefford). Act 2, Scene 2
Anthony Quayle (1913-1989)played Bottom in the production
The “rude mechanicals” in rehearsal, from left to right, Snout (James Grout), Bottom (AnthonyQuayle), Quince (Leo McKern), Snug (Mervyn Blake), Starveling (Peter Duguid), Flute (Ian Bannen). Act 3, Scene 1
Bottom attended by Titania and her fairies. From left to right, Mustardseed (Alexandra Jack), Peasblossom (Annette Apcar), Bottom (AnthonyQuayle), Moth (Jill Cary), Titania (Muriel Pavlow),Fairy (Jean Morley), Cobweb (Audrey Seed). Act 4, Scene 1
Oberon and Puck look on as Titania fawns over Bottom. The cast, from left to right, includes Mustardseed (NettaCox, left, to the left of male fairy), Titania (Kathleen Michael), Cobweb (Ann Dobson, behind Titania), Bottom (John Slater), Peasblossom (Jean Fox) Oberon (William Squire), Puck (Philip Guard), Moth (Jill Bennett).
Design for an expressionistic production of the play at the Kungliga Teatern in Stockholm (1956)
-1959-62- Peter Hall produced the play in 1959 at Stratford. It was revived in 1962 (with a provincial tour following in 1963). Hall’s production also inspired his own 1968 film version.Each revival included certain cast changes, and various modifications to setting and actionto suit the performing conditions, but in essence the basic production and design concepts remained virtually unaltered over this ten-year period. Lila de Nobili’s set featured an Elizabethan hall, with a minstrel’s gallery and timbered oaksteps on each side. The slightly raked stage floor was covered in straw and parts of the basic, permanent set could be backlit to reveal a woodland setting behind that was leafy green and romantic in mood. The longstanding theory that the play was written to celebrate an aristocratic wedding prompted the setting of an Elizabethan country house that could easily be transformed into the forest by foliage and lighting effects. Elizabethan costumes and rushes strewn onthe floor created a sense of period. The fairies were dressed in the richly-jeweled costumes of Elizabethan masquers, but their bare legs and feet linked them to the wildness of the forest.
Some commentators saw Hall’s production as a mixture between a certain visual traditionalism and a very contemporary approach. Thecharacterization of the lovers, who behaved like modern teenagers, and of the fairies, who were tousle-haired and wild-eyed, was considered to be amongst the more unconventional elements. Hall described them as “sexy and wicked and kinky.” In Halls film version, he took the fairies a step further: they were almostnaked (wearing only strategically placed ‘leaves’), dirty-faced, muddy, and painted all over in slimy, glistening green make-up.
Peter Hall’s 1959 outdoor staging at Stratford
Hall’s production featured legendary stage and screen actor Charles Laughton in the role of Bottom
Scottish actress Mary Ure (1933-1975)played Titania (right) in Hall’s 1959 production
Laughton as Bottom “auditioning” for his part
Bottom determines to take on the part, after some careful consideration and persuasion
Titania and Oberon (Robert Hardy) quarrelling
Oberon (Robert Hardy, left) overhears a quarrel between Helena (Vanessa Redgrave, center) and Demetrius (Edward De Souza, right). Act 2 Scene 1
Puck(Ian Holm, left) and Oberon (Robert Hardy)
Titania’s fairy attendants sing. Act 2, Scene 2
From left to right, Fairy(Zoe Caldwell), Titania(Mary Ure), and a fairy (Georgine Anderson)
From left to right,Mustardseed (Michael Scoble), Bottom (Charles Laughton), Titania (Mary Ure),Peaseblossom (Judith Downes). Act 3, Scene 1
Puck (Ian Holm) enchants the eyes of Hermia (Priscilla Morgan) and Lysander (Albert Finney)
Oberon (RobertHardy, far left) and Puck (IanHolm, far right) survey the sleeping Bottom (Charles Laughton, center right) and Titania (Mary Ure, center left). Act 4, Scene 1
Puck (Ian Holm, left) and Oberon (Robert Hardy, right), eavesdrop on (below left to right) Demetrius (Edward deSouza), Lysander (AlbertFinney), Helena (Vanessa Redgrave), Hermia (Priscilla Morgan) Act 3 Scene 2
Hippolyta, Theseus and the young lovers perusing a list of available entertainments. The cast, from left to right, isHippolyta (Stephanie Bidmead), Theseus (Anthony Nicholls), Demetrius (Edward de Souza), Philostrate (Donald Layne-Smith), Helena (Vanessa Redgrave), Lysander (Albert Finney), Hermia (Priscilla Morgan). Act 5, Scene 1
-1962-(Peter Hall) Oberon(Ian Richardson) and Titania (Judi Dench), Act 2, Scene 1, in Peter Hall’s revival.
Oberon (Ian Richardson, left) and Puck (Ian Holm, right) applying magic love potion on the eyelids of Titania (Judi Dench). Act 2, Scene 2
Titania (Judi Dench) and the fairies frolic affectionately with Bottom (Paul Hardwick). Act 3, Scene 1
Bottom (Paul Hardwick)grapples with a fairy.Act 4, Scene 1
Costumes worn by Oberon (Richardson) and Helena (played by Diana Rigg) in the wedding scene, designed by Lila de Nobili for Hall’s 1962-63 productions
Puck (Michael Williams) and Oberon (Ian Richardson) in Hall’s 1963 revival
Puck (Michael Williams, foreground right) encounters the “rude mechanicals” as they rehearse. The cast, from left to right, includes Snout (Newton Blick), Snug (JohnNettleton), Bottom (Paul Hardwick), Puck (Michael Williams), Quince (Tony Church), Starveling (Michael Burrell).
Titania (Juliet Mills) and Oberon (Ian Richardson). Act 2, Scene 1
Titania (Juliet Mills) and Oberon (Ian Richardson. Act 2, Scene 1
Titania (Juliet Mills, center) with her fairy attendants
Titania (Juliet Mills) and fairy attendants, including First Fairy (Patricia Conolly, front right), Barry Doan (top left), Mary Webster (top right).
Helena (Diana Rigg)implores Demetrius (Barry MacGregor) to show her some attention. Act 2, Scene 1
The lovers quarreling, (from left to right, Demetrius (Barry MacGregor), Lysander (Brian Murray), Helena (Diana Rigg), Hermia (Ann Beach). Act 3, Scene 2
Demetrius (BarryMacGregor, left) and Lysander (Brian Murray, right) fight over anincreasingly confused and irate Helena(Diana Rigg, center).Act 3, Scene 2
Titania (Juliet Mills) and Bottom (Paul Hardwick). Act 4, Scene 1
From left to right, Snug/Lion (John Nettleton), Starveling/ Moonshine (Michael Burrell), Snout/Wall(Newton Blick), Flute/Thisbe(Ian Hewitson). Act 5, Scene 1
Pyramus andThisbe attempt to speakthrough a chink in the wall. The cast, from left to right, is Bottom/PaulHardwick (Paul Hardwick), Snout/Wall(Newton Blick), Flute/Thisbe(Ian Hewitson), Quince (Tony Church). Act 5, Scene 1
-1970, 1972-So much has been written about Peter Brook’s production that, in retrospect, it is difficult to assess its real contribution to theatre. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that Brook’s production went far beyond a new interpretation of the play; it was perceived as a new approach to theatre. Brook wanted to strip away the inessential details and pose new challenges to the imagination of the audience. The resulting production, considered to be a milestone in Shakespearean production history, was very popular and went on world tour.Brook’s vision reportedly found its genesis in circus and oriental influences. He witnessed aChinese circus in Paris, and was impressed by the way in which the oriental acrobats differed from their western counterparts. The bare stage was hung with ropes, trapezes, swings and ladders, and floored with soft, white matting. Brook’s production used bright, vivid colors inside Sally Jacobs’s “white-box” set. Her costume designs were the baggy trousers and gaudy-colored silks of an oriental acrobat, with Puck in vivid yellow satin pantaloons and Titania and Oberon in flowing satin robes. The lovers wore white cotton clothes with tie-dyed patterns. The four fairies (or ‘audio- visuals’ as Brook referred to them) were dressed alike in drab grey sackcloth material, and their magic was performed with the aid of wire hoops, fishing poles, trapezes and plastic hose-lengths (‘frisbees’).
Set design sketch by Sally Jacobs for Peter Brook’s 1970 production
From Brook’s 1972 revival: Bottom (Barry Stanton) and Snug (Hugh Keays Byrne) practice the lions roar. Act 3, Scene 1
The Mechanicals rehearse. From left to right, Quince (Philip Locke), Bottom(Barry Stanton), Starveling (Richard Moore), Flute (George Sweeney), Snug (Hugh Keays Byrne), Snout (Malcolm Rennie).
Helena (Frances De La Tour) grapples frantically with a reluctant Demetrius (Ben Kingsley). Act 2, Scene 1
Oberon (Alan Howard, above, purple robe) and Puck (John Kane, above, yellow robe) survey thequarrel between Demetrius (Ben Kingsley, below, left) and Helena (Frances de la Tour, below, right). Act 2, Scene 1
Puck on a trapeze, airborne: Robert Lloyd as Puck beingswung by Oberon (Alan Howard)in Brook’s 1972 revival of the play
Puck (John Kane, left) and Oberon (Alan Howard, right)
Hermia (Mary Rutherford) lost in the woods. Act 2, Scene 2
Oberon (Alan Howard, left) and Puck (Robert Lloyd, right) enchanting Titania’s (Gemma Jones) eyes with love potion. Act 2, Scene 1 (from Brook’s 1972 revival of the play).
Oberon (Alan Howard) and Titania (Sara Kestelman)
Oberon (AlanHoward, left) dropslove potion into the eyes of Titania(Sarah Kestelman), Act 2, Scene 2, while Puck (John Kane, right) looks on.
Oberon puts Titania to sleep while Puck looks on.
The “rude mechanicals” rehearsing, Act 3, Scene 1. The cast, from left to right, includes Flute (Glynne Lewis), Quince (Philip Locke), Snout (Norman Rodway), Bottom (DavidWaller), Snug (Barry Stanton, background, bare chest), Fairy (Celia Quicke), Fairy (Ralph Cotterill), Starveling (Terrence Hardiman).
Fairies and a slumbering Titania. Act 4, Scene 1
Hermia (Mary Rutherford) and Lysander (Christopher Gable)
The Mechanicals rehearse whilesurrounded by fairies. The cast, from left to right, is Fairy (Celia Quick, with barbedwire), Bottom (Snug),Fairy (Ralph Cotterill,on floor), Fairy (Hugh Keays Byrne), Starveling (Terrence Hardiman), Bottom (David Waller, back turned), Snout (Norman Rodway, profile only), Fairy (John York), Quince (Philip Locke).
David Waller, as Bottom “transported,” dances.
Bottom (David Waller) andTitania (Sarah Kestelman) with fairy attendants.Act 4, Scene 1
A perplexedHermia (Mary Rutherford, left) watches as Demetrius(Ben Kingsley, blue shirt)and Lysander (Christopher Gable, right) fight for the attentions of Helena(Frances de la Tour).Act 3, Scene 2
Helena shouts at Demetrius andLysander while Hermia looks on in disbelief, from the 1972 revival. From left to right, Lysander (BruceMyers), Helena (Jennie Stoller), Hermia (Zhivila Roche), Demetrius (Glynne Lewis)
Demetrius (Ben Kingsley, blue shirt) pulls Hermia (Mary Rutherford) away fromHelena (Frances de la Tour) while Lysander (Christopher Gable, left, background) looks on. Act 3, Scene 2
Helena (Frances de la Tour, left) struggles with Hermia (Mary Rutherford, center) and Demetrius (Ben Kingsley, right) while Lysander (Christopher Gable, background) looks on. Act 3, Scene 2
Brook’s 1972 revival: Hermia (Zhivila Roche) attacking Helena (Jennie Stoller, farleft), while Lysander (Philip Sayer, right) and Demetrius (Glynne Lewis, second right) try to restrain her. Act 3, Scene 2
Puck (John Kane, on stilts) chases Lysander (Christopher Gable, left) and Demetrius (Ben Kingsley) around the forest. Act 3, Scene 3
Titania (Sara Kestelman)swoons in front of Bottom (David Waller). Act 4, Scene 1
Titania (Sara Kestelman, left) and Bottom (David Waller) frolicking with fairies, Act 4, Scene 1. The faires are Ralph Cotterill (left) and John York (right).
Oberon (Alan Howard, blue robe) and Titania (Sara Kestelman, green robe) united while the loverssleep. The lovers, from left to right, are Hermia (Mary Rutherford), Lysander (Christopher Gable), Helena (Frances de la Tour), Demetrius (Ben Kingsley). The background cast is Bottom (David Waller, lying down), Puck (John Kane, yellow robe), Fairy (Hugh Keays Byrne).
The young lovers are united at dawn after the night’s bizarre events, Act 4, Scene 1. The cast, from left to right, is Lysander (Philip Sayer), Hermia (Zhivila Roche), Helena (Jennie Stoller), and Demetrius (Glynne Lewis)
White dress splatteredwith paint spots worn byZhvilla Roche in the roleof Hermia, designed by Sally Jacob.
The “rude mechanicals,” from left to right: Quince (Philip Locke) Bottom/Pyramus (David Waller), Snout/Wall (Norman Rodway), Starveling/Moonshine (Terrence Hardiman), Flute/Thisbe (Glynne Lewis), Lion/Snug (Barry Stanton, on floor)
The Lions Head fromPeter Brooks 1970production,designed bySally Jacobs.Worn by Snugthe Joiner, who was played byBarry Stanton.
Pyramus and Thisbe being performed, Act 5, Scene 1. The background cast, from left to right, includes Snug (Hugh Keays Byrne, extreme left), Starveling (Richard Moore), Snout (Malcolm Rennie), Demetrius (Glynn Lewis, right, black), Helena (Jennie Stoller, dark hair), Hippolyta (Gemma Jones, bog collar). Foreground are Flute (George Sweeney, top), and Bottom (Barry Stanton).
-1977- Royal Shakespeare Theatre production, directed by John Barton with Gillian Lynne. Designed by John Napier. The Athenian woods of this production were colorful andpicturesque, but the shifting lighting and nightmarish fairies attending upon Titania and Oberon created an unsettling atmosphere of menace. The rich lace and creamy silks of the seventeenth-century costumes gave the lovers a childish innocence that was transformed by the forest.
Titania (Marjorie Bland, arms outstretched) and her fairy attendants.
Titania’s peacock thronefrom John Barton’s 1977 production.
Puck (Leonard Preston,left) and Oberon (Patrick Stewart). Act 2, Scene 1
A transformed Bottom (Richard Griffiths) terrifies his fellow actors while Puck (Leonard Preston, second right, crouching) looks on. Act 3, Scene 1
Helena, Demetrius, Lysander and Hermia bicker amongst themselves. Act 3, Scene 2
Oberon (Patrick Stewart) watchesas Titania(Marjorie Bland) frolics with Bottom(RichardGriffiths) Act 4, Scene 1
Bottom (Richard Griffiths) and Titania (Marjorie Bland) frolic together. Act 4 Scene 1
Titania (MarjorieBland) and Oberon (PatrickStewart) are reconciled after the night’s bizarre events.
The play- within-the play. From left toright, Theseus (Richard Durden), Flute/Thisbe (DuncanPreston), and Bottom (Richard Griffiths).Act 5, Scene 1
Bottom/Pyramus (Richard Griffiths, left) prepares to speak to Flute/Thisbe (Duncan Preston,right) through the wall represented by Snout (Keith Taylor, center). Act 5, Scene 1
Riverside Shakespeare Festival (1978)This production continued theyear-old company’s tradition ofun-miked Shakespeare, making use of a sheet-steel touring set for natural amplification of both actors and musicians. Eric Hoffmann as Puck
Riverside Shakespeare Festival (1978)Performance of the play-within-the play by the rude mechanicals The set utilized a series of sheet steel walls to project the natural voice. The parks tour of A Midsummer Nights Dream was expanded to play locations in three boroughs of New York City, including the Bronx, which became a favorite annual summer performing site for the company.
-1981-Royal Shakespeare production, directed by Ron Daniels, designed by Maria Bjornson. The repressed fantasies of Victorian sexuality escaped into theforest in this production, with a design inspired by the trappings of the nineteenth-century theatre.The lovers who watched the absurd antics of Pyramus and Thisbe had only just grown out of their own version of the excesses of Victorian theatre. Titania and Oberon (who were doubled with Hippolyta and Theseus) were dazzlingly-dressed, exotic fairies from Victorian pantomime, while their attendants were scary puppets manipulated by black clad figures lurking in the background.
Titania (Juliet Stevenson) amongst her fairy attendants.
Black velvet bodice and bluechiffon hooped skirt worn byJuliet Stevenson in the role of Titania, designed by Maria Bjornson.
A perplexed Helena demands to know why Lysander and Demetrius are mocking her withprotestations of affection. Act 3, Scene 2
Lysander and Demetrius fight over aconfused andangry Hermia.Act 3, Scene 2
-1984- Royal Shakespeare production, directed bySheila Hancockand designed by Bob Crowley. The photograph shows Hermia(Amanda Root), clinging toLysander (James Simmons). Act 3, Scene 2
Titania (Penny Downie) andfairy attendants. Act 4 Scene 1
-1986/87- Royal Shakespeare production, directed by Bill Alexander, designed by William Dudley.The opulent elegance of Art Deco design characterized the settingfor this production, and the doubling of the mortal and immortal kings and queens was given an unusual twist. While two different actors performed the roles of Theseus and Oberon, the roles of Titania and Hippolyta were doubled. The strange adventures and encounters of the play, therefore,appeared to be the dreamlike longings of a reluctant bride and, at the end of the play, Hippolyta left her mortal consort and exited with Oberon.
Egeus (Stuart Richman right) complains to Theseus (Richard Easton, secondright) and Hippolyta (Penelope Beaumont, center, black dress) about his daughter Hermia’s (Amanda Harris, kneeling) refusal to marry Demetrius. Act 1, Scene 1 Also pictured is Lysander (Nathaniel Parker, far left).
Oberon (Gerard Murphy) instructs Puck (Nicholas Woodeson) to find a man wearing Athenian clothes and apply love juice to his eyes, hatching a plot. Act 2, Scene 1
Bottom (David Haig, right) and Peter Quince (Christopher Ashley) in rehearsal for their wedding play. Act 3, Scene 1
1987 Royal Shakespeare Company production, directed by Bill Alexander, designed by William Dudley. The photograph shows Bottom (David Haig) and Titania (Frances Tomelty, right). Act 4, Scene 1
Oberon (Gerard Murphy) and Titania (Janet McTeer)
Pyramus and Thisbe speak through the chink in the wall, Act 5, Scene 1. The cast, from left to right, includes Helena (Kathryn Pogson), Demetrius (Max Gold), Theseus (Richard Easton), Hippolyta (Penelope Beaumont), Hermia (Amanda Harris), Egeus (StuartRichman), Bottom/Pyramus (David Haig), Snout/Wall (Jeremy Pearce), Flute/Thisbe (Paul Venables).
James Lapine’s 1988 outdoor production at the Delacorte Theater (New York Shakespeare Festival)
-1989- John Cairds 1989 production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, (designed by Sue Blane), was remarkable for it vivacious innovation. Complete with tutus, fairy wings,gamboling ‘punk fairies’ with big leather boots, blazers and school ties, this production was full of mischievous juxtapositions.Oberon wore an old evening jacket, homemade-looking fairy wings and pointy ‘Spock’ ears,and still managed to command authority over the proceedings, albeit with one eye winking firmly at the audience. This production stole, borrowed from, nodded and winked to many past productions ofthe play (Peter Hall had his fairies wear pointy ears in 1962 and in his film version in 1969).An anarchic, irreverent attitude and frenetic pace were captured by the gestures of Richard McCabe’s Puck, who literally threw away his copy of New Penguin Shakespeare. David Troughton’s pin-stripped Bottom sported big side-burns and an old straw hat; theforest was an old scrap-yard with broken old pianos and Victorian bathtubs; and everything on the stage seemed to be infected with a dreamy eclecticism.
Bottom pleadsfor more parts. From left to right, Flute (GrahamTurner), Quince(Paul Webster), Bottom (David Troughton). Act 3, Scene 2
The Mechanicals. From left to right, Flute (Graham Turner), Quince (Paul Webster), Starveling (Dhobi Oparei)
Oberon (John Carlisle, left) and Puck (Richard McCabe, right)
Lysander (Stephen Simms, right) woos a perplexed and irate Helena (Sarah Crowden). Act 3, Scene 2
Lysander (Stephen Simms, 3rd left) and Demetrius (Paul Lacoux, far left) intercede in the quarrel between Helena (Sarah Crowden, far right) and Hermia (Amanda Bellamy). Act 3, Scene 2
Ass’s head worn by David Troughton asBottom in Caird’s 1989production, designed by Sue Blane.
Titania (Clare Higgins) and Bottom (David Troughton)accompanied byfairy attendants. Act 4, Scene 1
Bottom (David Troughton) and Titania (Clare Higgins). Act 4, Scene 1
The performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, Act 5, Scene 1. The cast, from left to right, is Quince (PaulWebster), Bottom/Pyramus (David Troughton), Flute/Thisbe (Graham Turner), Starveling/Moonshine (Dhobi Operei)
-1994-Royal Shakespeare Production, directed by Adrian Noble and designed by Anthony Ward.The box set and swing, on which Hippolyta privately mused in the opening moments, were reminiscent of the set of Brook’s 1970 production. This was a surreal dream world, where the mechanicalsreappeared as the fairies attending upon Titania and her new love. The bare electric bulb of their village hall multiplied andtransformed itself into myriad glowing points in the darkness of the mysterious forest.
The photograph shows Titania (Stella Gonet), in an upturned umbrella, surrounded by her fairy attendants.
Pink feather dress worn by Stella Gonet in the role of Titania, 1994, designed by Anthony Ward.
Oberon and Puck watch the young lovers, Act 3, Scene 2. The cast, from left toright, is Oberon (Alex Jennings, on top of door), Hermia (Emma Fielding), Helena (Haydn Gwynne), Lysander (Toby Stephens, sprawling on floor), Puck (Barry Lynch, on top of door), and Demetrius (Kevin Doyle).
Gold Lurex coat, shirt and trousers as worn by AlexJennings in the role of Oberon, 1994, designed by Anthony Ward.
(1994): Flute/Thisbe (Daniel Evans) attempting to speak toBottom/Pyramus (Desmond Barrit) via Snout/Wall (Howard Crossley). Act 5, Scene 1
-1999- Royal Shakespeare production, directed by Michael Boyd, designed by Tom Piper. The winter of Theseus’s bleak court was invaded by the scarlet flowers of the forest, just as the libidinous fairies invaded its grey walls. The fairy king and queen were doubled with their mortal counterparts. Courtiers and mechanicals danced together at the end of the play-within-the-play, and Hippolyta lingeringly handed Bottom a rose after dancing with him, asthough she were somehow remembering and desiring again a dream of their wild lovemaking in the forest.
The court of Theseus. Josette Simon as Hipployta and Nicholas Jones as Theseus.
Josette Simon as Hipployta, Nicholas Jones as Theseus, and Catherine Kanter as Hermia
Sirine Saba as a Courtier and Aidan McArdle as Philostrate
Sirine Saba as a Courtier and Aidan McArdle as PhilostrateAs performed in the play, a female courtier, one of Hipplyta’s train, is revealed in the doorway, wearing full winter garb.Philostrate follows her in, stalking her absurdlythrough the poppies, and gooses her.She reacts by slapping him and breaking his glasses.
Sirine Saba as a Courtier and Aidan McArdle as Philostrate They proceed to rip each other’s clothes apart. What begins as angersoon turns to increasing excitement, until they end in a passionate embrace, now transformed intoPeasblossom and Puck.
Puck (Aidan McArdle, left) and Peaseblossom (Sirine Saba, right)
From left to right, Mustardseed (Mary Duddy), Peaseblossom (Sirine Saba,behind, arms raised), Bottom (Daniel Ryan), Titania (Josette Simon), Cobweb (Kemi Baruwa). Act 4, Scene 1
Titania (Josette Simon, left) and Bottom (Daniel Ryan,with ears) with fairy attendants, left to right, Mustardseed (Mary Duddy), Moth (Rebecca Lenkiwicz) Cobweb (Kemi Baruwa).
The fairies dance in amity.Josette Simon as Hipployta, and Nicholas Jones as Theseus.
David Hobbs as Starveling(in the role of Moonshine)
Flute/Thisbe (Orlando Wells) and Snout/Wall (Rod Arthur). Act 5, Scene 1
-2002-A Midsummer Nights Dream was director Richard Jones’s first production for the RSC. Jones’s experience in directing opera, and his reputation for an audaciously visceral approach to the stage, resulted in a Dream that delved into the play’s darker elements. The set, designed by Giles Cradle, was dominated by its blackness. Hands appeared from nowhere; one actor dressed as a tree moved between scene changes; tricks were played with perspective, and large, head-sized flies populated the set in ever-increasing numbers. The lovers were young andathletic, and their movements were choreographed as though they were in a ballet. When criticized for not producing a more traditional and pastoral Dream, Jones expressed his right to experiment with Shakespeare: “There is an absolute obsession with being definitive in the theatre, which Ihate. People think there is some kind of grail, that there is one way for a piece to be done. I think there is a cultural amnesia about what theatre is for. It should certainly ask more questions than it gives answers.”
Lysander (Michael Colgan, left) and Hermia (Gabrielle Jourdan)
Darrell D’Silva as Bottom, and Yolanda Vazquez as Titania
Demetrius (Paul Chequer,right) declares his love fora perplexed Helena (Nikki Amuka-Bird, left) while Puck (Dominic Cooper, center) looks on. Act 3, Scene 2
The young lovers quarreling.From left to right, Helena (NikkiAmuka-bird), Lysander (Michael Colgan), Demetrius (Paul Chequer), Hermia (Gabrielle Jourdan, held aloft) Act 3, Scene 2
The old and the new are captured in this and the following photograph of the Mechanicals. Theclassical tableaux of the Mechanicals sitting down and rehearsing their performance of Pyramus andThisbe is present, while both the director and designer’s vision also impact the expressionistic style of staging.
The Mechanicals sit on a spotlight-beam/underground tunnel, adding a surreal, filmic look to the comic proceedings.
Bottom/Pyramus (DarrellD’Silva) and Snout/Wall (Gareth Farr) Act 5, Scene 1
Part IV:Some Selected Film Versions and Adaptations of the Play