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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Peter Brook’s 1970 Midsummer Night’s Dream was among the most influential Shakespearean productions of the twentieth century: set  in a white box (design by Sally Jacobs) with a trapeze above, it  dispensed with realistic sets, sentimental fairies and period costumes, concentrating instead on the raw social and sexual energy of the comedy.

Plot Summary

Egeus orders his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius; she refuses because she and Lysander are in love. Her friend Helena is in love with Demetrius, who once loved her but now does not. Under the law of Athens, Duke Theseus gives Hermia four days to obey her father on pain of death or confinement to a nunnery. Hermia and Lysander escape this harsh law by running away to the woods. Demetrius pursues them there, with Helena pursing him. In the woods, Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of fairies, have quarrelled because Titania refuses to hand over an Indian changeling boy to be Oberon's page. Oberon instructs the mischievous Puck, Robin Goodfellow, to press the juice of a magic flower on Titania's eyes as she sleeps; it will make her fall in love with the first being she sees on waking. In an attempt to reconcile The dangerous eroticism of the play, with a queen kissing a humble weaver who wears the ears of an ass, was further emphasized in Michael Boyd’s 1999 production, with Josette Simon as Titania and Daniel Ryan as Bottom.Demetrius and Helena, Oberon orders that juice should be put on his eyes whilst he is sleeping and she is near, but Robin mistakenly puts it on Lysander, who thus falls in love with Helena. She thinks she is being mocked. Love-juice is then placed on Demetrius' eyes in order to rectify the mistake, but the result is that he too falls for Helena. The boys fight over her and the girls quarrel. While Titania has been sleeping, a company of Athenian artisans under the leadership of Peter Quince has come to the wood to rehearse a play for the ensuing wedding festivities of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Robin puts an ass's head on Bottom the weaver and because of the love-juice Titania falls in love with him. Eventually all is restored to right and the artisans perform their comically tragic play of 'Pyramus and Thisbe'.

 

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1962 RST/1963 Aldwych: Peter Hall (revival of 1959 production)

Lila de Nobili (design); John Bradley (lighting); Raymond Leppard (music)

Judi Dench/Juliet Mills (Titania), Yvonne Bonnamy/Rosemary Frankau (Hippolyta), Ian Richardson (Oberon), Tony Steedman (Theseus), Ian Holm/Michael Williams (Puck), Paul Hardwick (Bottom), Patricia Brake/Ann Beach (Hermia), Brian Murray (Lysander), Diana Rigg (Helena), Barry MacGregor (Demetrius), Tony Church (Peter Quince), Ian Hewitson (Flute), Bill Travers (Snout), Clive Swift/John Nettleton (Snug), Clifford Rose (Starveling), Edmond Bennett/Donald Bisset (Egeus), Margaret Drabble, Nerys Hughes, Ian Cullen, Peter Geddis, Ian Lindsay, Gareth Morgan, Gordon Honeycombe, Robert Lloyd (Fairies)

1970 RST/1970 Roundhouse/1971 US Tour (BAM, New York, etc)/1971 Aldwych/1972 Aldwych/1972 European Tour (Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, etc)/1972-73 Aldwych/1973 RST/1973 US, Japanese and Australian Tour: Peter Brook

Sally Jacobs (design); Richard Peaslee (music)

Sara Kestelman/Gemma Jones (Hippolyta/Titania), Alan Howard (Theseus/Oberon), John Kane/Robert Lloyd (Puck/Philostrate), David Waller/Barry Stanton (Bottom), Mary Rutherford/Zhivila Roche (Hermia), Christopher Gable/Terence Taplin/Bruce Myers (Lysander), Frances de la Tour/Jennie Stoller (Helena), Ben Kingsley/Glynne Lewis/Phillip Sayer (Demetrius), Philip Locke/Denis Carey (Peter Quince/Egeus), Glynne Lewis/George Sweeney (Flute), Norman Rodway/Patrick Stewart/Malcolm Rennie (Snout), Barry Stanton/Hugh Keays Byrne (Snug), Terrence Hardiman/Philip Manikum/Richard Moore (Starveling), Hugh Keays Byrne, Ralph Cotterill, Celia Quicke, David Meyer, John York/Gillian Rhind/Anthony Meyer, David Meyer, Pauline Munro, Roshan Seth/Doyne Byrd, Lynette Davies, Patricia Doyle, Gillian Joyce (Fairies)

1977 RST/1977 Aldwych/1978 RST: John Barton, Gillian Lynne

John Napier (design); John Watts (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Marjorie Bland (Titania), Carmen Du Sautoy (Hippolyta), Patrick Stewart (Oberon), Richard Durden (Theseus), Leonard Preston (Puck), Richard Griffiths (Bottom), Pippa Guard (Hermia), Paul Whitworth (Lysander), Marilyn Galsworthy (Helena), Peter Woodward (Demetrius), Norman Tyrrell (Peter Quince), Ducan Preston (Flute), Keith Taylor (Snout), Brian Coburn/David Lyon (Snug), Leon Tanner (Starveling), Griffith Jones/George Raistrick (Egeus), Robert Shaw (Peaseblossom), Gordon Garrity (Cobweb), Matthew Beacham (Moth), John Lyddon (Mustardseed), Avril Carson, Carmen Du Sautoy (Fairies)

1981 RST/1982 Barbican: Ron Daniels

Maria Bjornson (design); Chris Ellis (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)

Juliet Stevenson (Hippolyta/Titania), Mike Gwilym (Theseus/Oberon), Joseph Marcell (Puck), Geoffrey Hutchings (Bottom), Jane Carr (Hermia), Philip Franks (Lysander), Harriet Walter (Helena), Simon Templeman (Demetrius), John Rogan/Peter Ellis (Peter Quince), James Fleet (Flute), Peter Ellis (Snout), Anthony O'Donnell (Snug), Andrew Jarvis (Starveling), John Burgess/David Lloyd Meredith (Egeus), Julia Hills (Peaseblossom), Kevin Wallace (Cobweb), Christopher Hurst (Moth), Clare Travers-Deacon (Mustardseed), Juliette Mole, John McAndrew, Graham Turner, Nigel Le Vaillant (Fairies)

1983-84 Small-scale Tour/1984 TOP: Sheila Hancock

Bob Crowley (design), Priscilla Truett (costumes); Brian Harris (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Penny Downie (Hippolyta/Titania), Roger Allam (Theseus/Oberon), David Whitaker (Puck), Philip Jackson (Bottom), Amanda Root (Hermia), James Simmons (Lysander), Katharine Rogers (Helena), Michael Thomas/Christopher Baines (Demetrius), Robert Eddison/Frank Middlemass (Peter Quince), Daniel Day-Lewis/Andrew Hall (Flute), George Raistrick (Snout), Jimmy Yuill (Snug), Simon Templeman (Starveling), Donald McKillop (Egeus), Susan Jane Tanner/Jan Revere (Peaseblossom), Cliff Burnett/Steven Pinner (Cobweb), Polly James/Alison Rose (Moth), Donald McKillop (Mustardseed)

1986 RST/1987 Barbican: Bill Alexander

William Dudley (design); Mark Henderson (lighting); Jeremy Sams (music)

Janet McTeer/Di Botcher/Frances Tomelty (Titania), Janet McTeer/Penelope Beaumont (Hippolyta), Gerard Murphy (Theseus/Oberon), Richard Easton (Theseus), Nicholas Woodeson (Puck), Pete Postlethwaite/David Haig (Bottom), Amanda Harris (Hermia), Paul Greenwood/Nathaniel Parker (Lysander), Joely Richardson/Kathryn Pogson (Helena), Martin Jacobs/Max Gold (Demetrius), David Haig/Christopher Ashley (Peter Quince), Paul Venables (Flute), Donald McBride/Jeremy Pearce (Snout), Christopher Ashley/Nicholas Collett (Snug), Sean Bean/Malcolm Hassall (Starveling), Robert Demeger/Stuart Richman (Egeus), Stanley Dawson (Philostrate), Cornelia Hayes (First Fairy), Jane Lancaster, Malcolm Hassall/Peter Andrew, Roger Moss/Paul Hargreaves (Fairies), Catherine Fleetwood/Denise Outen (Mustardseed), Philippa Stanton/Nicola Doyle/Ruth Funnell (Cobweb), Nichola Wash/Kelly Marcel (Moth), Charlotte Williams/Jemma Price (Peaseblossom)

1988 Small-scale Tour: Bill Buffery

Philippe Brandt (design); Michael Calf (lighting); Mia Soteriou (music)

Jennie Stoller (Hippolyta/Titania), Raad Rawi (Theseus/Oberon), Peter Andrew (Puck), Roger Walker (Bottom), ? (Hermia), Paul Slack (Lysander), Fiona Gillies (Helena), Roger Moss (Demetrius), Nicholas Lumley (Peter Quince), Simeon Andrews (Flute), Nicholas Gecks (Snout), Mel Hastings (Snug), John Keenan (Starveling), John Keenan (Egeus)

1989 RST/1989 UK Tour/1989 Barbican: John Caird

Sue Blane (design); Alan Burrett (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Clare Higgins (Hippolyta/Titania), John Carlisle (Theseus/Oberon), Richard McCabe (Puck), David Troughton (Bottom), Amanda Bellamy (Hermia), Stephen Simms (Lysander), Sarah Crowden (Helena), Paul Lacoux (Demetrius), Paul Webster (Peter Quince), Graham Turner (Flute), David Shaw-Parker (Snout), Jimmy Gardner (Snug), Dhobi Oparei (Starveling), Russell Enoch (Egeus), Liza Hayden (First Fairy), Sharon Hinds, Polly Kemp, Jacqueline Leonard, Keith Gooze, Peter Hamilton Dyer, Neil Richardson (Fairies)

1994 RST/1995 Barbican/1996 US Tour (Kennedy Center, Washington; Lunt Fontanne Theater, New York, etc)/1996-97 Barbican, RST, UK Tour, International Tour (Japan, Australia and New Zealand): Adrian Noble

Anthony Ward (design); Chris Parry (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Stella Gonet/Lindsay Duncan/Amanda Harris (Hippolyta/Titania), Alex Jennings/Leigh Lawson (Theseus/Oberon), Barry Lynch/Ian Hughes (Puck), Desmond Barrit/Christopher Benjamin (Bottom), Emma Fielding/Monica Dolan/Katy Brittain (Hermia), Toby Stephens/Daniel Evans/John Lloyd Fillingham (Lysander), Haydn Gwynne/Emily Raymond/Rebecca Egan (Helena), Kevin Doyle/Matthew McFadyen (Demetrius), Philip Voss/John Kane/Bernard Lloyd (Peter Quince/Fairy), Daniel Evans/Mark Letheren (Flute/Fairy), Howard Crossley (Snout/Fairy), Kenn Sabberton (Snug/Fairy), Robert Gillespie (Starveling/Fairy), Alfred Burke (Egeus), Ann Hasson (First Fairy), Elaine Pyke, Jonathan Dean, Fiona Tong, Darren Roberts (Fairies)

1999 RST/1999-00 Barbican/2000 New York: Michael Boyd

Tom Piper (design); Chris Davey (lighting); John Woolf (music)

Josette Simon (Hippolyta/Titania), Nicholas Jones (Theseus/Oberon), Aidan McArdle (Puck), Daniel Ryan (Bottom), Catherine Kanter (Hermia), Fergus O'Donnell (Lysander), Hermione Gulliford (Helena), Henry Ian Cusick (Demetrius), Peter Kelly (Peter Quince), Orlando Wells (Flute), Rod Arthur (Snout), Andrew Dennis (Snug), David Hobbs (Starveling), Geoffrey Whitehead (Egeus), Sirine Saba (Peaseblossom), Kemi Baruwa (Cobweb), Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Moth), Mary Duddy (Mustardseed), Ben Elliot, Farimang Singhateh (Fairies)

2001 (March/April) Barbican Hall: Jonathan Bates (co-production with the City of London Sinfonia, to mark the CLS's 30th anniversary, integrating Shakespeare's text with Mendelssohn's complete score of 1843)

Richard Hickox (conductor). Nina Garner (design)

Samantha Bond (Titania/Hippolyta), Alex Jennings (Oberon/Oberon), Ian Hughes (Puck), Desmond Barrit (Bottom), Mali Harries (Hermia), David Tennant (Lysander/Flute), Emily Raymond (Helena), Adam Levy (Demetrius/Snug), Paul Greenwood (Peter Quince), Robert Gillespie (Starveling)

2002 RST/2002 Barbican and UK Tour: Richard Jones

Giles Cadle (set), Nicky Gillibrand (costumes); Matthew Richardson (lighting); Jonathan Dove (music)

Yolanda Vazquez (Titania), Priyanga Elan (Hippolyta), Tim McMullan (Oberon), Peter Lindford (Theseus), Dominic Cooper (Puck), Darrell D'Silva (Bottom), Gabrielle Jourdan (Hermia), Michael Colgan (Lysander), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Helena), Paul Chequer (Demetrius), Martin Savage (Peter Quince), Richard Dempsey (Flute), Gareth Farr (Snout), Dale Rapley (Snug), Steven Beard (Starveling), Steven Beard (Egeus), Michele Wade (First Fairy), Meredith MacNeill (Peaseblossom), Stephen Wight (Cobweb), Fergus Craig (Moth), Oliver Maltman (Mustardseed), Fergus Craig (Philostrate)

2005 RST/2006 Novello: Gregory Doran

Stephen Brimson Lewis (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Paul Englishby (music)

Amanda Harris (Titania), Bridgitta Roy (Hippolyta), Joe Dixon (Oberon), Miles Richardson (Theseus), Jonathan Slinger (Puck), Malcolm Storry (Bottom), Sinead Keenan (Hermia), Trystan Gravelle (Lysander), Caitlin Mottram (Helena), Oscar Pearce (Demetrius), Paul Chahidi (Quince), Jamie Ballard (Flute), David Rogers (Snout), Edward Clayton (Snug), Patrick Waldron (Starveling), Tom Hodgkins (Egeus), Bettrys Jones (First Fairy), Peter Bankole (Fairy), Alice Barclay (Fairy), Geoffrey Lumb (Fairy), Chris McGill (Fairy)

For a gallery of nearly 200 production images from a selection of these productions (and some older ones in the pre-RSC Shakespeare Memorial Theatre), together with sample costumes, pages from promptbooks and other visual materials, go to

http://www.rsc.org.uk/search/search.aspx?q=midsummer+dream

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