A Midsummer Night's Dream
The original text
Written between 1590 and 1596, first produced 1604. The work lost favour during the restoration period (Samuel Pepys described the 1662 revival as "the most insipid and ridiculous play I ever saw in my life") but gained new interest in the 19th century as a way of showcasing elaborate costumes and sets. Since then, A Midsummer Night's Dream has been adapted for opera, ballet, television, and film.
Translations and adaptations
Performance history in South Africa
1800: A copy of the play was offered on sale for £25 in Cape Town in 1800 , but no production followed apparently, despite the hopes of the reporter of the Kaapsche Courant (15 November).
1890s: In one of the early amateur productions in South Africa, Cecil John Rhodes was entertained by Rudyard Kipling and artist Jan Juta's sister Rene Juta, her other sisters and family servants, with the performance of scenes from the play on the slopes of Devil's Peak in the 1890s.
1900: First produced professionally in South Africa by the Holloway Company in Cape Town in (*??).
1938: Directed by Taubie Kushlick.
1950: Presented by the University Players at the Wits Great Hall, starring Harley Manson (Bottom), Ruth McMenamin (Titania), Val Philip (Helena) and Redvers Kyle (Puck). Music composed by Stanley Glasser.
1964: A production by PACOFS, in collaboration with The Bloemfontein Shakespeare Circle, directed by John Boulter, the performance on the first night was in an old railway shed in Tweespruit before moving to Bloemfontein's Civic Theatre. The cast included Ralph Rodgers (Theseus), Hudson Earp (Egeus), Peter Mohr (Lysander), Winston Nathan (Demetrius), Herbert Bishko (Philostrate), George Barnes (Quince), Robert Wallis (Snug), Arthur Hanna (Bottom), Benjamin Janeke (Flute), Harold Goldberg (Starveling), Anna Blömerus (Hippolyta), Heléne Carstens (Hermia), Dinkie Eksteen (Helena), Robin Short (Oberon), Maureen Viljoen (Titania), Michael van Gelder (Puck), Lucy Wiseman (Fairy) and others. Norine van Arkell was the stage manager.
1975: Presented by University Theatre Stellenbosch from 5 to 13 September at the H.B. Thom Theatre, produced by Ria Olivier and Pat Harvey. Costumes and lighting designed by Emile Aucamp, choreography by Gisela Täger-Berger.
1976: Staged by the University of Cape Town Drama Department, first in the Little Theatre and later at the Grahamstown Festival, directed by Robert Mohr, with Clifford Lilley (Theseus & Oberon), Chloë Rothenburg (Hippolita & Titania), Leon Berrange (Egeus & Moth), Melanie Sher (Hermia), Alan Goldstein (Lysander), Alan Swerdlow (Demetrius), Bo Petersen (Helena), Jonathan Rands (Philostrate & Puck), Michele Fine (Peaseblossom), Pippa Dyer (Cobweb), Meryl Hendler (Mustardseed), Alan Leas (Peter Quince), Michael Shevelew (Nick Bottom), Alan Dickinson (Francis Flute), Henry Dom (Tom Snout) and others.
1981: Staged by PACT during the opening season of the Pretoria State Theatre, directed by Robert Mohr with Etienne Puren, Louise Saint Claire, Murray Woodfield, Alan Swerdlow, Annelisa Weiland, Gillian Harris, Ronald Wallace, Michael Richard, Leslie Fong (credited as Lesley Fong), Andre Jacobs, Pamela Gien, Janice Honeyman, Marc Colli, Michael McCabe, Richard Carlsson, James Borthwick, Eric Nobbs, Anthony James and Tobie Cronjé.
1981: Produced at Maynardville, directed by Philip Grout, opening 9 January, starring John Whiteley, Liz Dick, Alan Swerdlow, Neville Thomas, Mary Dreyer, Deon van Zyl, Sean Taylor, Diane Wilson, Roger Dwyer, John Hussey, Russel Savadier, Nigel Daly, Tom Holmes, Peter Voigt. Designer Hugh Durrant, lighting Brian Kennedy, choreographer Veronica Paeper. Original music by British composer Ian Kellam, singing coach David Matheson. Stage manager Mavis Lilenstein.
1988-9: An innovative joint production incorporating large puppets, by the Baxter Theatre Centre and the Market Theatre, in association with the Handspring Puppet Company. Presented at the Oude Libertas Theatre, Stellenbosch (first performance 28 January 1988), the Baxter Theatre Centre, Cape Town (first performance 8 February 1988), National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, and the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Originally directed by Esther van Ryswyk (Oude Libertas, Baxter) and re-directed by Fred Abrahamse (Market) in 1989. With musical direction by Johan Cloete, décor and puppet design by Adrian Kohler, costume design by John Caviggia (Baxter), Ann Sharfman (Market), and choreography of movement by Jennie Reznek. The Baxter Theatre cast consisted of: Neil McCarthy, Fred Abrahamse, Basil Appollis, Clare Stopford, Dawid Minnaar, Sandi Schultz, Jennie Reznek, Antoinette Butler, Martin le Maitre, Ivan Abrahams, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Paul Malherbe, André Samuels. Market Theatre cast consisted of: Neil McCarthy, Fiona Ramsay, John Ramsbottom, Gaynor Young, Robert Finlayson, David Butler, Clare Stopford, Jennie Reznek, David Alcock, Robin Smith, Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Fats Dibeko, Solomon Bisholo.
1995: Produced at Maynardville from 6 January to 18 February, directed by British director and playwright Patrick Sandford, starring Sean Taylor, Mary Dreyer, Deirdre Wolhuter, Anthony Bishop, Michelle Scott, Jay Heale, Anthea Thompson, Nicholas Boraine, Nicholas Ashby, Jana van Niekerk, David Alcock, Jonathan Pienaar, Paul Warwick Griffin, Nkosinathi Gqotso, André Samuels, Neels Coetzee, Peter Butler, Karin van der Laag, David Nissen and Eoudia Samson. Music composed by Péter Louis van Dijk.
1997 Shirley Johnston directed the play for the University of Stellenbosch Drama Department in the H.B. Thom Theatre, starring Jerick September, Ilse Oppelt, Francois Toerien, Jenny Stead, Anton Luitingh, Albert Snyman, Hugo Theart, Abduragman Adams and others.
2002: Performed at Maynardville, directed by Fred Abrahamse.
2012: Produced by Artscape at the Artscape Theatre and the National Arts Festival and from 23 January to 26 February 2013 at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, in repertory with Cardenio (12 January to 16 February 2013) This production was the play's sixth staging at Maynardville since the open-air theatre began in 1957. It featured Terence Bridgett, Hannah Borthwick, Sizwe Msutu and Sven Ruygrok among others. Costume and set design by Marcel Meyer. Lighting design by Faheem Bardien.
Trek, 14(5):42, 1950.
The Old Vic Company's South African season 1952 programme.
PACOFS theatre programme, 1964.
University of Cape Town Drama Department theatre programme, 1976.
Teaterwoordeboek, Vaktaalburo, 1977
Jan Juta. 1972. Background in Sunshine: Memories of South Africa. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons: p.52.
PACT theatre programme, 1981.
Maynardville theatre programmes, 1981 and 1995.
Peter Merrington. 2009. "Loyal Memory: The Tercentenary in Colonial Cape Town". In The Shakespearean International Yearbook Volume 9: Special section, South African Shakespeare in the Twentieth Century. (Guest editor: Laurence Wright) 29-45.
Baxter theatre programme, 1988.
US Drama Theatre programme, 1997
Cape Times, 17 April 2012.
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