Though written in June 2013, Stephen McElroy’s overview of several forthcoming productions of the play planned for that summer remains interesting for how it showcases modern theater companies’ widely divergent interpretations of the play. McElroy asked seven directors about their concept for the play, how they interpret the Puck character, and why A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains an audience favorite.
The Royal Shakespeare Company offers a selective performance history for Midsummer. This history begins with the earliest performances on the London stage, spotlights noteworthy productions from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and concludes with a list of film and musical adaptations of the play.
Charles Isherwood’s editorial offers a novel reading of the play’s emphasis on love. Isherwood argues that despite being full of “dizzy joyousness,” Midsummer’s view of love is ultimately ambivalent. The lovers’ quarrels may have ceased by the time the curtain drops, but the play’s “sunlit ending” belies the fact that elsewhere in the play, “love is inconstant and inspires brutality when it is thwarted.”
Allen Wright’s “history of a hobgoblin” provides a brief survey of Puck, a popular figure from English folklore that appears in Shakespeare’s play under the traditional Elizabethan name, Puck . Wright’s overview traces the figure of Puck from his origins in Welsh lore to appearances in contemporary literature, comics, and film.
The late, independent folklorist Eric Edwards authored this extensive and illuminating study of fairy lore and its history in the British Isles. Although Edwards does refer to characters from Midsummer, his study proves more useful for the wider perspective it offers to students interested in the role fairy lore plays in the work of Shakespeare and other prominent English writers.
In this lively essay, literature professor Gerald Lucas provides an edifying overview of the Roman poet Ovid and his magnum opus, The Metamorphoses. Lucas’ essay provides students of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a useful understanding of the text that Shakespeare drew on most heavily in his composition of the play.
This is a complete recording a performance of Midsummer that premiered in Sussex in the summer of 2011 and appeared on BBC Radio the following May. This version of the play was directed by Celia de Wolff and featured a cast of seasoned Shakespearean actors.