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RSC Edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Misty Ayres-Miranda

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of RSC Edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer
Night's Dream Royal Shakespeare
Company Edition Basics of the Edition 1. Editor's Introduction pg. 1-10
2. About the text pg.11-16
3. Key Facts pg.17-18
4. Textual Notes
5. Scene-by-scene Analysis pg. 85-93
6. Extended Notes and Readings pg.94-171 An Extended Look at Extended Readings Historical and Theater History Material-
A Midsummer Night's Dream in Performance
Shakespeare's Career in the Theater
Shakespeare's Works: A Chronology
Pictures of both the RSC's Performance
and Historical Performances Audience for this Edition Graduate Students First Time Readers General Readers Undergraduates Theatergoers Usefulness of Edition As critical apparatus.... Nope! Use for another play... Teaching Setting Fellow Graduate Student General Reader Sure! Absolutely! Especially with the
Text-by-Text Analysis Ehh...Depends Yep! Especially if they happen to be Theater Enthusiasts or Shakespeare lovers! Introductions About the Text Key Facts Textual Notes Scene-by-Scene Analysis A Midsummer Night's Dream in Performance: The RSC and Beyond -Four centuries of the Dream: An Overview
-At the RSC
The Shifting Point
All That we see or seem/is but a dream within a dream
To wake and be free/from this nightmare we writhe in
Everything Seem Doubles
If we shadows have offended
-The Director's Cut: Interviews with Michael Boyd,
Gregory Doran and Tim Supple. A Midsummer Night's Dream in Performance: The RSC and Beyond Four Centuries of the Dream: An Overview Early 1600's
Theories argue on purpose of play.
Will Kempe and Richard Burbage along with other actors doubled roles.
No other mention of the peformance until the Restoration period.
Restoration Era 1660
Restoration audiences were not sold on the mix of fantasy and reality in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
"Samuel Pepys judged it 'the most inspired ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life'" (95).
More musical renditions which cut bawdy language. Influenced by French Neo-classicism's adherence to unity of time, place, and action.
18th century
Operatic rendtions adding music to Shakespeare's plots and characters.
Use of theatrical machines to present grandiose shows, but little of Shakepeare's poetry.
1775 David Garrick's opera included 28 songs, courtiers, and fairies.
19th century
Lucia Elizabeth Vestris' 1840 production restored Shakespeare's text.
Throughout the 19th century, although ballet and operatic componenets were still seen, Shakespeare's original poetry slowly returned.
20th century
Twist returning to human experience through the play
1914 production at Savoy Theater by Harley-Granville Barker (Quote page 99)
Peter Brooks stylized acrobatic rendition
Robert Lepage's sensual reading
Film versions by Reinhard, Hall (101), and Hoffman celebrated for directorial interpretation of text.
Editor's Quote 102 Difficulties with this Section:
Time span within paragraph. At the RSC The Shifting Point Describes post 1960's versions of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a study of release from the norm and an acceptance of self and its desires
Focus on Peter Brook's acrobatic, white-box production to demonstrate A Midsummer Night's Dream highly sexualized themes. All that we see or seem/is but a dream within a dream (Poe) Focus on mechanics and abstract staging of Peter Brooks and Adrian Noble.
The themes of Shakespeare's words and relationships are further enhanced by avante-garde renditions than Victorian versions which struggle for realism.
Quote on page 106 by Sally Jacobs, Brooks designer. To wake and be free/ from this nightmare we writhe in (Lawrence) Focuses on the dark aspects of the play, including gothic themes, entrapment, and nightmarish qualities.
John Barton's Decaying Victorian Dolls (1981), Richard Jones's Camera Obscura (2002), Gregory Doran's Military Costumes (2005) Everything Seems Double Explores the doubling of the tension between the couples by having actors play multiple roles, a fairly new concept.
Hippolyta-Titania, Theseus-Oberon
The doubling of the worlds, both Athenian and Wood, Reality and Fantasy, Dream and Consciousness. If we shadows have offended Explores the sometimes offensive portrayal of both sexual and self discovery in A Midsummer Night's Dream (pg 118).
Realization that "fairies" in the production does not mean the play is for children. The Director's Cut:
Interviews with Michael Boyd
Gregory Doran and Tim Supple Michael Boyd: Current artistic director for Royal Shakespeare Company. Directed a very controversial production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Gregory Doran: Chief Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Directed a dark, military styled version of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2005 Tim Supple: Directed A Midsummer Night's Dream in collaboration with an Indian theatre company with large success in the 2006-2007 RSC season Interview covers three main topics:
Directorial interpretation between characters and script
Use of costumes and staging to demonstrate themes
Shakespeare's vision and modern day representations. Interesting areas of focus for critical approaches:
Page 128- Analysis of Theseus as a Serial Rapist
Page 130- Purpose of the Changeling Indian Boy
Page 137- Fears of Hermia and Helena Shakespeare's Career in the Theatre Shakespeare's Works:
A Chronology Editor's Notes Z z Z Helpful for students and/or people not as adept at reading Shakespeare.
Basically provides a mini-Sparknotes within the book itself to explain what is happening. Footnotes:
Provided on every page
Define and explain terms and allusions that might not be familiar to modern readers

Stage Directions:
Minimal, though they do mark
some exits and entrances The Ensemble at
Work The King's Man Beginnings April 1564 Father glover and prominent on town council
Married young
Late 1580s moved to London
Rise of the public playhouse and professional acting company
"birth of the star"
Began fixing plays
His contribution to comedy
Invention of in-house dramatist Playhouses Bare platform stage in broad daylight
Rose Theatre to Globe
1608 - Blackfriars = much small indoor theatre
Always wrote for indoor court
performances too
Introduction of the Five Act structure
Timing --- leads to hypothesis about publication
About the groundlings Learning parts: read-aloud and prompter
Scenery and Props - symbolism
Music - especially in comedies
Actors - required many skills
Change in Clown influenced Shakespeare's writing
Doubling-up on parts Lord Chamberlain's Men become the King's Men
Not as many plays produced between 1603-1608 - Plague
Shakespeare didn't completely stop traveling, but did spend more time in Stratford - bought a new house
Wrote Othello, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra
Longer and morally darker comedies such as Measure for Measure
Collaborated with John Fletcher between 1612-1614
Dies April 1616
First Folio 1623 o By editor Jonathan Bate •Shakespeare as a middle-man
•Magical Thinking
A second form of sight that belongs to visionaries, astrologers, 'wise women' and poets
It is explained as being needed to explain things that would otherwise be cruel and arbitrary.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses
•The Festive World
The ‘new comedy’ of ancient Greece
Questions the “happy ending” of the play
•‘The Poet’s Eye…The Poet’s Pen’
The Language of Poetry is Metaphoric-the play contains rhyme, puns, adjective plays,
Poetry Leads the Imagination- Different Editions-
Editorial Decisions
List of Parts
Act and Scene Divisions
Speakers’ Names
Editorial Stage Directions -80% verse, 20% prose. High incidence of rhyme to include bad rhyme in ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’
-Major Parts
Supplemental Sources -Jonathan Bate
Academic, biographer, critic, novelist, scholar of Shakespeare
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at University of Warwick, UK and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literture, the British Academy, and Honorary Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge and a Governor and Board member of the RSC
Awarded a CBE, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Queen in June 2006 for ‘services to Higher Education’

-Eric Rasmussen
Academic, biographer, critic, editor scholar of Shakespeare
Professor of English at the University of Nevada, USA and General Textual Editor of the Internet Shakespeare Editions project
Since 1999 he has written in the annual review of editions and textual studies for the Shakespeare Survey
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