Everything I know before reading or seeing: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

One of the plays most conspicuously out of my Shakespeare knowledge and repertoire is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m going to see it next weekend at the Indiana Repertory Theatre with my parents.

Fun fact: Family friend Henry is in the production we’re going to see.
ADDITIONAL FUN FACT: Henry and I were born in the same hospital. Crazy!

In preparation for this new life experience I’ve assembled my current knowledge of the play. Needless to say, I WILL take a read of it, but for now, this is what I know and where I know it from. About half of what I remember is from Dead Poets Society.

There are fairies

There are fairies in the play. I believe these show up when everyone’s out in the woods partying maybe halfway through the play. I know about this because I went to the ballet once, and they were doing an act of the play in ballet form, and there were fairies.

I also know this from watching Dead Poets Society, because so many people were fairies.

And I triply know this because people in my high school were fairies in it.

At least one scene is in a forest

Part of the play takes place in a forest. I know this because we had an EPIC tree in my high school theatre department from their production of Midsummer. I believe this was the year before I was a freshman. We re-used the tree in every production that needed a tree, including Robin Hood, where I also worked on making a tree. Both trees were chicken wire stapled to a wooden superstructure, then covered with muslin and glue.

There’s a play-within-a-play


Hermia, Puck, and Bottom are in it

There is a character named Hermia. I’m not sure where I got that from, but I’m pretty sure she’s really important. I think Lysander’s probably in this play, too.

Someone turns into an ass

There is definitely an ass in the play. And I’m pretty sure at another part in the play, they are a person. I’m not sure why or how, but I’m pretty sure this happens in the overnight, in-the-woods festivities, and that the faries are involved. And I’m not sure if it’s because he is an ass or because he’s a fool. I think this is part of my extant knowledge of Shakespeare – there is an ass in Midsummer. I think it’s just a fact.

The hole in the wall monologue

In the play-within-a-play, there’s the hole-in-the-wall monologue, where Bottom (I think) holds his hand up and makes a hole, and talks about what he sees on the other side. This scene was featured in Dead Poets AND was one of the Shakespeare scenes I remember from Drama class. I think there’s a moment in Fantastiks that references this. It’s a good bet that this is a standard cultural reference.

What fools these mortals be!

I feel so clever knowing that I know so little about this really well-known play.

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