Playing March 9, 10, 11 and|
March 16, 17, and 18 in
MIT's Sala de Puerto Rico
Of all of Shakespeare's plays, we felt A Midsummer Night's Dream was a particularly appropriate choice for M.I.T.'s Shakespeare Ensemble. It is a comedy of exceptional poetry, invention and counterpoint, where the logical world of reason is illuminated by the imaginative world of magic and mystery.
The story delves into how ambition and conflict can limit love's potential; it also shows a path to wonder and enlightenment for a dreamer with love in her heart. We have added a short induction to the story, highlighting the fickle and often cruel realities of the changing allegiances created by painful inclusion/exclusion dynamics in the complex world of relationships.
We have been impressed by the collaborative nature of this ensemble; their genuine appreciation and generous support of each other; their commitment to the work of creating theater; and their apparent lack of the need for sleep. We have witnessed a bit of the "lunatic, the lover, and the poet" in each of them. Our deepest thanks to the actors, the design team, the technical staff, the crew, and all of the good-hearted folks that helped put this Dream together.
- Sarah Hickler and Lisa Wolpe
In the middle of 1595, Shakespeare visualized the ideal summer and composed A Midsummer Night's Dream, on commission for a noble marriage where it was first played. In this year he had written Richard II and Romeo and Juliet and after it he would write The Merchant of Venice and Henry IV. Harold Bloom writes, "Nothing before A Midsummer Night's Dream is its equal, and in some respects nothing by him afterward surpasses it. It is his first undoubted masterwork, without flaw, and one of his dozen or so plays of overwhelming originality and power." A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of three plays, out of thirty-nine, where Shakespeare does not follow a primary source.
Shakespeare uniquely took great pains to work out a rather elaborate plot for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Theseus and Hippolyta belong to an ancient myth and legend. The lovers - Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius - are of no definite time and place, since all young people in love notoriously dwell on a common element. The fairies - Titania, Oberon, Puck, and Bottom's four chums - emerge from literary folklore and its magic. The "mechanicals" - Bottom, Peter Quince, Flute, Snout, Snug, and Starveling - are English rustic artisans who come out of Shakespeare's own countryside where he grew up. This mixture is so diverse that a hidden defense of it is made in the absurd exchanges between Theseus and Hippolyta concerning the music of the hounds. "So musical a discord, such sweet thunder" has been widely taken as the play's description of itself. The critics agree that this play is a supreme literary merit - a merit of design.
The Dream ends with three weddings, and the reconciliation of Oberon and Titania. If we were not told, it is not obvious that this was an extended and elaborate wedding song and we know from the title that it is at least in part a dream. Whose dream? One answer is, Bottom's dream or his weaving because he is the protagonist and greatest glory of the plays. Bottom is universal enough to weave a common dream for all of us. Puck's epilogue, however, calls it the audience's dream. This could be anyone's dream on any night in midsummer.