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Shakespeare & Beyond

Six things to look for when you watch "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

PHOTO: Bottom and the Mechanicals rehearse in the woods: the fairies Oberon and Puck watch.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Folger Theatre, 2016. Directed by Aaron Posner. Scenic Design by Paige Hathaway. Photo by Teresa Wood.

Editor’s Note: This blog post and all of the related productions linked below are from 2018, but these artists’ recommendations for what to look for when you watch the play are timeless! Don’t miss your chance to get tickets to Folger Theatre’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the National Building Museum, onstage July 12 – August 28, 2022.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. It features some of his most iconic characters—Robin Goodfellow, the mischievous “Puck;” Nick Bottom, the enormously overconfident actor; Helena, the frustrated lover—as well as some of his most famous lines:

“The course of true love never did run smooth” (1.1.136).
“Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind” (1.1.240)
“Over hill, over dale. . .” (2.1.2)
“Lord, what fools these mortals be” (3.2.117)!
“Reason and love keep little company together nowadays” (3.1.145).
“Give me your hands, if we be friends, / And Robin shall restore amends” (5.1.454-455).
If you’re seeing a production of Midsummer this season (and you should, because it’s a blast), what should you keep an eye out for? Maybe you’ve never seen Midsummer before and are looking for a way in. Maybe you’ve seen it a hundred times and want to take your relationship with the play to the next level. We asked some people who have thought a lot about Midsummer what they look for in a production. We reached out to artists at four of our theater partners, all of which have productions of Midsummer onstage now, as well as Folger Theatre Artistic Producer Janet Alexander Griffin and Casey Wilder Mott, the filmmaker behind a new film version of the play. Here’s what they told us:

1. Shakespeare’s setting

PHOTO: Actress Melora Marshall as Titania in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Theatricum Botanicum’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Melora Marshall as Titania. Photo by Miriam Geer


Having loved acting and directing

Having acted,directed, taught The Bard’s plays in my career, I appreciate your coverage of productions around the country. When you noted The Bard’s inclusion of so many flowers in MND and other plays, I want to mention that Ellen Geer and her family at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon near Los Angeles has a Shakespeare Garden with a number of those flowers. I can recall that Ellen started a similar garden near The Tyrone Guthrie Theatre when were both in the company in the premiere season of that distinguished theatre.

Al Rossi — July 6, 2018

[…] To read the full article, go to: […]

“Two seeming bodies, but one heart”: The Relationship between Helena and Hermia | Shake It Up — July 18, 2018

[…] At the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on through Sunday, July 29. We asked Samantha Smith, the company’s Education and Development Coordinator, what she looks for in a production of Midsummer. Check out her answer in our recent post, “Six things to look for when you watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” […]

What's onstage at Shakespeare theaters in July - Shakespeare & Beyond — July 20, 2018

[…] ⇒ Related: “Six things to look for in A Midsummer Night’s Dream” […]

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[…] Six things to look for when you watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream If you’re getting ready to see a stage production, pay attention to these six things. […]

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