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Michelle Terry as Puck
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, May 2023
Photo by Tristram Kenton

 

064 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by William Shakespeare

Jun 29, 2023 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably Shakespeare’s first great comedy. It is undoubtedly one of his most enduringly popular works with producers and audiences alike. The play has all the ingredients of classic romantic comedy: a magical setting, a merry-go-round of earnest young lovers, a fairy King and Queen, and a troupe of hapless comic actors, all given a supernatural spin in the course of a single moonlit night. But is the dream-like world of the wood outside Athens as benign a place as we imagine?

As we record this episode a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is in repertory in the Summer season at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London, where the Artistic Director, Michelle Terry, gives an outstanding performance as the sardonic sprite, Puck.

My guest to help explore Shakespeare’s wondrous “visions” is Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford. Emma has appeared twice before on the podcast, sharing her deep knowledge of The Duchess of Malfi, and of Macbeth.

Emma Smith

Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, University of Oxford. Her books on Shakespeare’s First Folio, The Making of the First Folio and Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book have been published in new editions to coincide with the 400th anniversary this year. She is currently working on an edition of Twelfth Night, and a new book on Elizabethan art and culture.

Recommended Play

Emma recommended Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel, which we covered in episode 63.
Emma also volunteered to return to talk about any other Shakespeare play that we haven’t yet covered!

Photo © Marc Brenner
We have footnotes for this episode …

The Footnotes to our episode on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream include observations on the forest as a setting for love and dreams, on the play as democratic drama, and on the not-so-hidden meanings in the names of the rude mechanicals.

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