A Midsummer Night's Dream

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A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. 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.

Performance history in South Africa

A copy of the play was on sale in Cape Town in 1800 for £25, but no production followed apparently, despite the hopes of the reporter of the Kaapsche Courant (15 November).

Early amateur productions in South Africa include ** and Cecil John Rhodes being entertained by Rudyard Kipling and artist Jan Juta's sister René Juta, her other sisters and family servants with the performance of scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream on the slopes of Devil's Peak in the 1890s (Merrington, 200*; Juta 1972: 52).

First produced professionally in South Africa by the Holloway Company in Cape Town in 1900 (*??). Other notable productions include ***, the Shakespeare quadcentennial production at the Alexander Theatre in 1964 (directed by Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke and featuring them with Jenny Gratus. Another production in 1964 was by PACOFS in collaboration with The 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 Robin Short and Michael van Gelder. Robert Lang was the stage manager.

Presented by University Theatre Stellenbosch in 1975, produced by Ria Olivier and Pat Harvey.

Robert Mohr’s 1981 production (with Etienne Puren, Louise Saint Claire, Michael Richard and Tobie Cronjé) during the opening season of the Pretoria State Theatre.

There was a Maynardvillle production in 1995 directed by Patrick Sandford. Cast - Theseus: Anthony Bishop Hippolyta: Michelle Scott Philostrate: Deirdre Wolhuter Egeus: Jay Heale Hermia: Anthea Thompson Lysander: Nicholas Boraine Demetrius: Nicholas Ashby Helena: Jana van Niekerk Peter Quince: David Alcock Nick Bottom: Jonathan Pienaar Francis Flute: Paul Warwick Griffin Tom Snout: Nkosinathi Gqotso Snug: André Samuels Robin Starveling: Neels Coetzee Puck: Peter Butler Peaseblossom: Karin van der Laag Oberon: Sean Taylor Titania: Mary Dreyer Cobweb: Deirdre Wolhuter Moth: David Nissen Mustardseed: Eoudia Samson

In 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.

Esther van Ryswyk’s famous puppet-and-human version (starring Clare Stopford, Fiona Ramsay, Neil McCarthy, David Butler, Jennie Reznek, Robert Finlayson and Gaynor Young and many others) was staged at the Oude Libertas Theatre and Baxter Theatre through a Market-Baxter-Handspring Puppet Company collaboration in 1988, then moved to the Market Theatre in 1989, redirected by Fred Abrahamse. **, Maynardville, 1981 (dir Phillip Grout), Maynardville, 1995 (dir Patrick Sandford), Maynardville, 2002 (dir Fred Abrahamse).

By Artscape in 2012 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 is the play's sixth staging at Maynardville since the open-air theatre began in 1957. It includes Marcel Meyer, Terence Bridgett, Hannah Borthwick and Sven Ruygrok.

Translations and adaptations

Translated into Afrikaans as Midsomernagdroom by Eitemal, published by Human & Rousseau in 1974 and produced by ** in 19**.

Roelf Laubscher translated the play into Afrikaans as 'n Somernagdroom (Unpublished, 1975). Produced by SUKOVS, stage management by Mavis Lilenstein, 1975.


Teaterwoordeboek, Vaktaalburo, 1977

US Drama Theatre programme, 1997

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