365 Days of Shakespeare

That's right – the Bard in a year.

Posts Tagged ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream

362. My top five Shakespeare plays: number 4

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We’re really getting down to it now. Only three entries remaining (and may I just say that I accidentally typed “thee” instead of “three”…take from that what you will)! So, you may be wondering is my personal choice for number four on my list of Shakespeare’s top five best plays…so it’s a good thing you clicked on this entry because now you get to find out!

NUMBER 4: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I freaking love this play. I love everything about it. I love the balance of light and dark, of romance and rape, and the little girl in me cannot help but love the fairies and all their magic, not to mention the utter hilarity of the mechanicals. This is one of those plays that has so much room for interpretation, and yet every production seems to remain true to what is at the core, and it makes every viewing experience something really joyful. This play was the first of Shakespeare’s I ever performed in, as Titania, and it was a truly (pardon the expression) magical experience. The dialogue is witty, the songs are fantastic, and all of the characters are a blast to play. A Midsummer Night’s Dream takes the number four spot and leaves pixie dust in its path.

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Written by Caroline Mincks

September 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM

338. Top 10 Shakespeare-inspired songs: Number 2

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I’ve got wedding on the brain…here is Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the number 2 song.

Written by Caroline Mincks

September 4, 2010 at 12:04 PM

322. “Be as Thou Wast Wont”

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Headache = no well-thought-out entry today. Just a really great clip:

Written by Caroline Mincks

August 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM

292. Tattoo designs inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

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Many literary types cannot resist getting a tattoo that reflects their passion for the written word – which is why Shakespeare-inspired tattoos are particularly popular among that crowd. One of his most beloved comedies, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, has become a favorite among the inked for those who wish to decorate their bodies with a passage or an image. If you are interested in a tattoo inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, here are a few ideas to get you started:

PASSAGES

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

“Jack shall have Jill; Nought shall go ill; The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.”

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, such shaping fantasies, that apprehend more than cool reason ever comprehends.”

“And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.”

“Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity in least speak most, to my capacity.”

“’Tis almost fairy time.”

“Give me your hands, if we be friends, and Robin shall restore amends.”

IMAGES

-A fairy, of course, is a great image inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” since so much of the plot relies on them.

-There is quite a lot of nature imagery in the play. The most prominent, of course, is the “love-in-idleness”, or the purple flower whose magical properties causes so much of the mayhem. There is a white flower that is its counterpart, which takes the charm away. A duo of these flowers would be particularly pretty.

-There is also a lot of imagery that relates to the moon – Hippolyta starts it in the very first scene, Titania continues it, the mechanicals are pressed to find out the moon’s schedule, and several other characters mention the moon throughout the play. Therefore, a tattoo of a moon would be a beautiful image to have tattooed.

Any tattoo related to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will undoubtedly have an element of darkly whimsical beauty to it if it is an image, and certainly some beautiful poetry if it is a passage. Of course, these are only a few ideas and suggestions – there are surely other things that would be beautiful upon theskin, so read the play and look for pictures to find out what other tattoo ideas this play can offer!

Written by Caroline Mincks

July 20, 2010 at 12:20 AM

288. Character analysis: Nick Bottom

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Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” may have had at least some basis in fact, presented in the form of the “rude mechanicals”. These hardworking fellows, who are not exactly the brightest stars in the sky, are seeking to put on a brilliant play to impress the Duke and Duchess. The most eager among them, and the one that must play their leading role, is a weaver named Nick Bottom.

Bottom suffers from a common affliction among wannabe actors known as “Playemall Disease”. This means that he is not satisfied to just play the lead; he wants to hide his face and also play the love interest, don a mane and roar as the lion, and he would probably be willing to play the wall, too, if the director Peter Quince didn’t rein him back in after a while. Bottom may come across as a bit of a ham and a diva, which he is, but he truly has a lot of heart, too.

The man believes in the play. He is so enthusiastic about the performance that he seeks to improve the script (much to Peter Quince’s dismay and the audience’s amusement), performs several speeches to demonstrate his ability and range, and even manages to wake up from sleep knowing his next cue. He takes his job very seriously, and in many ways is exactly who you would want to be working with.

During his time with Titania, Shakespeare makes it unclear whether Bottom falls in love with Titania as she has with him, or whether Bottom is simply amused, assuming it is some sort of dream, and going along with it. After all, when the gorgeous Queen of the Fairies claims she loves you and showers you with attention and gifts, it would be understandably hard to resist.

The monologue, known usually as “Bottom’s Dream”, is a moment of real sincerity in most productions. Bottom speaks of this strange dream he had in which he had the head of an ass and was loved by a fairy. Though he falls victim to one of Shakespeare’s sillier jokes – saying things like “man’s ear hath not seen” and other sensory mix-ups – it is a beautiful moment of poetry for him before he returns to the giant ham he really is.

Bottom is, in short, a terrible actor and a bit of a control freak, but at heart is a good man who only want the best for the art he is creating and his fellow troupe members.

Written by Caroline Mincks

July 16, 2010 at 12:06 AM

286. Character analysis: Puck

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“Thou speak’st aright; I am that merry wanderer of the night!”

Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, is one of Shakespeare’s best-known characters. This impish servant of the Fairy King, Oberon, is known for his mischief-making and unfortunate (though humorous) mistakes made in carrying out his orders. He is also one of the most fun characters to interpret, as there are so many possibilities in portraying him.

For one, is he really male? Though written as a male character and referred to as such, most productions these days seem to prefer casting women, or at least actors capable of some androgyny. Having Puck as an androgynous character helps play up just how mysterious this playful character is, and perhaps can be used as a way of illustrating how good he is at disguises.

Another thing about Puck that is interesting to explore is his relationship to Oberon. Some productions play Oberon as an older brother type, or as someone who keeps Puck as a kind of pet, so that the relationship between the two is an amiable one. Others portray him as a slave to Oberon, miserable and wishing he could escape, which makes the pranks he chooses to play on several characters have a much deeper meaning: he does them to keep his spirits up.

In some productions, Puck is an ever-present being, one who is observing and reporting all the goings-on, whether he is actually written into the scene or not. It plays up Puck’s role as a messenger and one who has a fascination with the foolish mortals. It is hard to tell whether he truly mistakes Lysander for Demetrius or whether he simply decides “this could be fun” – but feigns mistaking for the sake of the audience (whom Puck seems very aware of, considering he delivers the epilogue).

In whatever way Puck is portrayed, as male or female, as adorable pet or desperate slave, as mistaking servant or as savvy prankster, he remains one of the most beloved characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and possibly in all of Shakespeare’s canon. He represents the magic of the fairy land and the exciting possibilities for mischief on an enchanted summer’s night, and embodies the idea that there are always spritely little sprites hiding out in our lives, tweaking the circumstances here and there, sometimes for our own good and other times for their own amusement. He is, and will remain, an audience and reader favorite.

Written by Caroline Mincks

July 14, 2010 at 12:02 AM

262. Shakespeare out of doors

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I came across this interesting article about what it is like to perform Shakespeare outside. I have never actually been in a Shakespeare play outside as an actor (I worked on A Midsummer Night’s Dream last summer with Richmond Shakespeare at the summer festival, but backstage), but I have performed in several musicals outside at Dogwood Dell. Let me tell you one thing – when it comes to performing in the Virginia humidity, with the mosquitoes buzzing backstage and everyone’s costumes dripping with sweat and the constant threat of a Richmond thunderstorm (scary!), I thought that there could be nothing harder to pull off than a Sondheim musical.

I was wrong.

I watched our five-actor troupe pant, sweat, wheeze, choke, and occasionally pour water over their heads while putting on an absolutely marvelous production of Midsummer. Not an easy play to do in any conditions, the actors found great ways to make the elements work in their favor. Sometimes it was risky – the other backstage minion, Emily, and I were often found toweling off the stage and putting down tarps before the first act began – but oftentimes, it was beautiful.

Of course, the setting helps. Agecroft Hall is a wonderful place to see a Shakespearean production. It is a 15th-century Tudor estate, brought over from jolly old England in the 1920’s. The grounds are expansive and include a tranquil English garden to roam and explore. The audience members during Midsummer could be heard remarking how the setting of Agecroft added so much to the setting of the play!

And that is part of the joy of working outside. Sure, it is difficult, especially when the heat reaches near-dangerous temperatures, and everything from weather to ambient sound to neighborhood cats can behave unpredictably. But there is something about being so, shall we say, “in the element” that can bring something refreshing, new, and even magical to performing Shakespeare.

Written by Caroline Mincks

June 20, 2010 at 2:54 PM