The Maori Merchant of Venice, the Maori film version of the English bard William Shakespeare’s classic play The Merchant of Venice, brings an exotic look, a musically rich soundtrack and a unique cultural mix to Shakespearean tradition.
The revenge drama of Jewish moneylender Shylock and his quest for a pound of Christian merchant Antonio’s flesh as payment, or utu, for a defaulted loan, is told in the Maori language with easy-to-read subtitles in modern English.
The Maori Merchant of Venice contributes to the modern Shakespeare revival (Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare in Love, Midsummer Night’s Dream) and comes in the wake of the success of Chinese language/English subtitled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The director and executive producer of the film, Don C Selwyn, has a long-standing and distinguished career in the New Zealand film and television industry as an actor, producer and director. He is a leading proponent of Maori drama, performed in both Maori and English, and a prime mover in encouraging respect for Maori viewpoints and culture in mainstream New Zealand film and television drama. He has devoted many years to training Maori and Pacific film makers and is a mentor and inspiration to many now working in the industry.
Selwyn is a founder (with producer Ruth Kaupua Panapa) of He Taonga Films, the production company for The Maori Merchant of Venice.
He has been well known in New Zealand as a film and television actor since 1977’s Sleeping Dogs, the first New Zealand feature to be exhibited internationally, and which began the Hollywood careers of Roger Donaldson and Sam Neill.
For Selwyn, an experienced Shakespearean actor whose roles encompass Oberon, Caesar, Antony, Othello and Shylock; theatre director (The Merchant of Venice) and Maori language film director and producer (Maaui Pootiki, Tohunga, Te Ohaki o Nihe), this is a project which combines his passion for Shakespeare with his commitment to the revitalisation of the Maori language.
Renowned Maori scholar Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones translated Shakepeare’s poetic 16th Century English into formal, poetic Maori in 1945. In addition to The Merchant of Venice, he translated Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Julius Caesar into Maori. He wished to make the beauty and the power of Shakespeare’s message accessible to Maori people. He did this alongside his other major work of translating ancient Maori songs into English.
In the late 1950s, Jones told Selwyn of the translation of The Merchant of Venice and of his wish that it be performed one day. Selwyn directed it as a stage play as part of the 1990 Koanga Festival in Auckland, when he was invited to stage a play in Maori.
He saw that it would translate into film and spent the past 10 years seeking funding, in addition to operating He Taonga Films as a production company (Nga Puna, Don’t Go Past With Your Nose in the Air, Feathers of Peace, the Tala Pasifika series) and training base for Maori and Pacific film makers.
Alongside his love for Shakespeare, Selwyn’s passion for the preservation and enhancement of the Maori language drives him to bring this story to a wider audience. “It is important to keep the poetic side of the language active. We need something more than the cryptic and colloquial translations from modern-day English that is common in Maori now,” he says.
Selwyn’s visual treatment for turning the play into a film keeps Shakespeare’s plot, characters and settings, enhancing them by adding a Maori dimension. “We are using Maori language and cultural elements as a vehicle to be able to express the dynamics that Shakespeare came up with. The characters are not sourced from Maoridom, but there are analogies,” he says.
Selwyn’s vision for The Maori Merchant of Venice is a dynamic interaction of colourful, strong and distinct cultures. The action takes place at the point where the edges of these cultures meet – in the world of business and law, with overlaps into the world of love and romance.
The Jewish moneylender Shylock (known in Maori as Hairoka) and his opponent, the Christian merchant Antonio (Anatonio), live in a 17th Century Venice achieved by using Italian-inspired buildings in Auckland, inner-harbour waterways and the Herald Island wharf as filming locations dressed to present Venice as a cosmopolitan trading centre.
The wealthy woman who is the key to the dispute and its solution, Portia (Pohia), lives in the magical land of Belmont (Peremona), which Shakespeare created as a fictitious place. The film locates it in New Zealand by incorporating Maori art, music and culture in the design and staging of events. For example, when the Prince of Morocco arrives in Peremona to seek Portia’s hand in marriage, he is given a ceremonial Maori welcome with conch shell, and karanga (female cry of welcome) counterpointed by Moroccan trumpets and song.
Her suitors put their case to Portia accompanied by Italian-style operatic arias performed in Maori by opera singers William Winitana and Mere Boynton, intermingled with traditional Maori wind instruments, played by Maori music expert Hirini Melbourne. When Shylock and Antonio do their business deal, they happen to be in an art gallery, part of the Venice marketplace, filled with the work of renowned artist Selwyn Muru.
The Maori Merchant of Venice has an original orchestral score by award-winning composer Clive Cockburn (Mikhail Lermontov) and played by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, overlaid with haunting vocals by Kui Wano and choral performances by the St Joseph’s Maori Girls Choir. The soundtrack was recorded by the Radio New Zealand recording department at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre.
The cast is a mix of seasoned actors and exciting newcomers, headed by Waihoroi Shortland (48) as Shylock, the role he played in Selwyn’s 1990 stage production. He is also known as a writer (Crooked Earth).
Selwyn chose a predominantly young cast with high levels of proficiency in Maori, aiming to inspire other young Maori to take up the language.
Antonio is played by Maori language university lecturer and first-time actor Scott Morrison (29), a cousin of Temuera Morrison. Portia is newcomer Ngarimu Daniels (22), a Maori radio newsreader and kapa haka (traditional Maori dance) tutor. Bassanio is played by Te Rangihau Gilbert (36), whose early acting roles include Utu and The Silent One when he was a teenager. Actor/university student Sonny Kirikiri (36) (The Piano, Feathers of Peace) plays Gratiano and radio personality/actress Veeshayne Armstrong (28) (Jackson’s Wharf) is Nerissa.
Reikura Morgan (22), a childrens’ television presenter (Pukana), plays Jessica and her real-life boyfriend Te Arepa Kahi (23) (Mataku, Shortland Street), plays her on-screen lover Lorenzo. Lawrence Makoare (32) (Crooked Earth, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted), plays the Prince of Morocco.
The film also features singers Ardre Broughton-Foote, William Winitana and Mere Boynton, Auckland Dance Company dancer Justine Hohaia, traditional musician Hirini Melbourne and artist Selwyn Muru in cameo roles. In a tribute to the history of the New Zealand film industry, veteran actress/film maker Ramai Hayward appears in the court crowd scene.
The film was made by a multi-cultural crew, including Croatian director of photography Davorin Fahn (Small Town Blues, Aroha), award-winning Maori designer Guy Moana (Once Were Warriors, Moko Toa), editor Bella Erikson (Feathers of Peace) and many other experienced Maori and Pakeha professionals plus several trainees, in accord with He Taonga Films’ kaupapa (philosophy).
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice has been performed as a play in countless interpretations all over the world through the centuries since it was written in about 1596. There were six silent movies made before 1923 and seven English-language television productions since 1947. The best-known was a 1973 television presentation of the stage play starring Sir Laurence Olivier as Shylock and Joan Plowright as Portia. The BBC made a television film in 1980, starring Warren Mitchell as Shylock and the most recent starred Bob Peck in 1996.
The only previous non-English language version seems to be a French/Italian film made in 1952, directed by Pierre Bilon.
The Maori Merchant of Venice is the first Shakespeare film to be produced in New Zealand and the first to be performed in Maori. It is also the first Maori-language feature film. It is funded by Te Mangai Paho, the funding body for Maori language film and television projects, with marketing assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission. Production company: He Taonga Films. Distributor: Metropolis Film. Executive producer/director: Don C Selwyn, associate producers: Selwyn Muru, Sir Robert Mahuta, producer: Ruth Kaupua Panapa; director of photography: Davorin Fahn, production designer: Guy Moana, composer: Clive Cockburn, Maori music composer Hirini Melbourne, editor Bella Erickson.
At first glance, William Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice would seem an unlikely candidate for a big-screen treatment. An unwieldy blend of romantic comedy and tragic melodrama, this ‘problem play’ has to clear an additional hurdle in our enlightened times thanks to its characterisation of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender who seeks a literal pound of flesh from his Christian nemesis. Michael Radford’s gloomy film is a long and slightly draining haul, but the intensity of Al Pacino’s central performance justifies the effort required.
In Shakespeare’s time, Shylock was played as a crude, anti-Semitic caricature. Radford’s film, however, offers a far more contemporary interpretation, with the Jew’s scheme against Jeremy Irons’ Antonio motivated by an outsider’s sense of injustice and persecution. Irons, too, has a psychological burden to carry as his merchant’s decision to indebt himself to Shylock is a result of his unspoken homosexual lust for Joseph Fiennes’ fortune-hunting playboy Bassanio.
With the latter off courting the fair Portia (played by newcomer Lynn Collins, whose uncanny resemblance to Gwyneth Paltrow, Fiennes’ Shakespeare In Love co-star, can hardly be a coincidence), Antonio must face the music as Shylock demands his bloody forfeit in court. The trial scene is the centrepiece of any stage production and is no less effective here, with Al’s implacable avenger chillingly unmoved by the disguised Portia’s eloquent protestations.
“OPPRESSIVELY SOMBRE AND TORTUOUS”
Radford’s decision to keep faith with the play’s 16th-century setting pays off in authentic Venetian locations and a painterly use of light and shadow. But the oppressively sombre mood and torturous pace make this harder work than it should be, with Pacino’s melancholy presence dominating proceedings long after his premature exit. The movie is worth catching on the strength of his work alone. Despite this, you can’t help thinking it will confirm more prejudices about filmed Shakespeare than it confounds.
The Shakespeare play has inspired several films.
- 1914—silent film directed by Lois Weber
- 1973—television film directed by John Sichel
- 1980—A BBC television film directed by Jack Gold
- 1996—A Channel 4 television film directed by Alan Horrox
- 2001—A BBC television film directed by Trevor Nunn
- 2002—The Maori Merchant of Venice, directed by Don Selwyn.
- 2003—Shakespeare’s Merchant, directed by Paul Wagar and produced by Lorenda Starfelt, Brad Mays and Paul Wagar.
- 2004—The Merchant of Venice, directed by Michael Radford.
- The cast included Al Pacino as Shylock, Jeremy Irons as Antonio, Joseph Fiennes as Bassanio, Lynn Collins as Portia, and Zuleikha Robinson as Jessica.
- The Merchant of Venice at the Internet Movie Database_____
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Mendelssohn)
Music for William Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written by Felix Mendelssohn at different times in his life. In 1826, near the start of his career, he wrote a concert overture (Op. 21). In 1842, only a few years before his death, he wrote incidental music (Op. 61) for a production of the play, into which he incorporated the existing Overture. The incidental music includes the world-famous Wedding March. The German title reads Ein Sommernachtstraum.
The Overture, Op. 21, was the product of a boy aged 17 years 6 months (it was finished on 6 August 1826), and George Grove called it “the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music”. It was written as a concert overture, not associated with any performance of the play. The Overture was written after Mendelssohn had read a German translation of the play in 1826. The translation was by August Wilhelm Schlegel, with help from Ludwig Tieck. There was a family connection as well: Schlegel’s brother Friedrich married Felix Mendelssohn’s aunt Dorothea.
While a romantic piece in atmosphere, the Overture incorporates many classical elements, being cast in sonata formAdolf Bernhard Marx). Heinrich Eduard Jacob, in his biography of the composer, said that Mendelssohn had scribbled the chords after hearing an evening breeze rustle the leaves in the garden of the family’s home and shaped by regular phrasings and harmonic transitions. The piece is also noted for its striking instrumental effects, such as the emulation of scampering ‘fairy feet’ at the beginning and the braying of Bottom as an ass (effects which were influenced by the aesthetic ideas and suggestions of Mendelssohn’s friend at the time,
Following the first theme representing the dancing fairies, a transition (the royal music of the court of Athens) leads to a second theme, that of the lovers. A final group of themes, suggesting the craftsmen and hunting calls, closes the exposition. The fairies dominate most of the development section and ultimately have the final word in the coda, just as in Shakespeare’s play.
The Overture was premiered in Stettin (then in Prussia; now Szczecin, Poland) on 20 February 1827, at a concert conducted by Carl Loewe. Mendelssohn had turned 18 just over two weeks earlier. He had to travel 80 miles through a raging snowstorm to get to the concert, which was his first public appearance. Loewe and Mendelssohn also appeared as soloists in Mendelssohn’s Concerto in A-flat major for 2 pianos and orchestra, and Mendelssohn alone was the soloist for Carl Maria von Weber‘s Konzertstück in F minor. After the intermission, he joined the first violins for a performance of Beethoven‘s Ninth Symphony.
The first British performance of the Overture was conducted by Mendelssohn himself, on 24 June 1829, at the Argyll Rooms in London, at a concert in benefit of the victims of the floods in Silesia, and played by an orchestra that had been assembled by Mendelssohn’s friend Sir George Smart.
Mendelssohn wrote the incidental music, Op. 61, for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1842, 16 years after he wrote the Overture. It was written to a commission from King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Mendelssohn was by now the music director of the King’s Academy of the Arts and of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. A successful presentation of Sophocles‘ Antigone on 28 October 1841 at the New Palace in Potsdam, with music by Mendelssohn (Op. 55) led to the King asking him for more such music, to plays he especially enjoyed. A Midsummer Night’s Dream was produced on 14 October 1843, also at Potsdam. The producer was Ludwig Tieck. This was followed by incidental music for Sophocles’ Oedipus (Potsdam, 1 November 1845; published posthumously as Op. 93) and Jean Racine‘s Athalie (Berlin, 1 December 1845; Op. 74).
The A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture, Op. 21, originally written as an independent piece 16 years earlier, was incorporated into the Op. 61 incidental music as its overture, and the first of its 14 numbers. There are also vocal sections and other purely instrumental movements, including the Scherzo, Nocturne and Wedding March. The vocal numbers include the song “Ye spotted snakes” and the melodramas “Over hill, over dale”, “The Spells”, “What hempen homespuns”, and “The Removal of the Spells”. The melodramas served to enhance Shakespeare’s text.
Act I was played without music. The Scherzo, with its sprightly scoring, dominated by chattering winds and dancing strings, acts as an intermezzo between Acts I and II. The Scherzo leads directly into the first melodrama, a passage of text spoken over music. Oberon’s arrival is accompanied by a fairy march, scored with triangle and cymbals.
The vocal piece “Ye spotted snakes” opens Act II’s second scene. The second Intermezzo comes at the end of the second act. Act III includes a quaint march for the entrance of the Mechanicals. We soon hear music quoted from the Overture to accompany the action. The Nocturne includes a solo horn doubled by bassoons, and accompanies the sleeping lovers between Acts III and IV. There is only one melodrama in Act IV. This closes with a reprise of the Nocturne to accompany the mortal lovers’ sleep.
The intermezzo between Acts IV and V is the famous Wedding March, probably the most popular single piece of music composed by Mendelssohn, and one of the most ubiquitous pieces of music ever written.
Act V contains more music than any other, to accompany the wedding feast. There is a brief fanfare for trumpets and timpani, a parody of a funeral march, and a Bergomask dance. The dance uses Bottom’s braying from the Overture as its main thematic material.
The play has three brief epilogues. The first is introduced with a reprise of the theme of the Wedding March and the fairy music of the Overture. After Puck’s speech, the final musical number is heard – “Through this house give glimmering light”, scored for soprano, mezzo-soprano and chorus. Puck’s famous valedictory speech “If we shadows have offended” is accompanied, as day breaks, by the four chords first heard at the very beginning of the Overture, bringing the work full circle and to a fitting close.
The purely instrumental movements (Overture, Scherzo, Intermezzo, Nocturne and Wedding March) are often played as independent pieces at concert performance or on recording. Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded the complete incidental music for RCA Victor; Ormandy broke with tradition by using the German translation of Shakespeare’s text. In the 1970s Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos recorded a Decca Records LP of the complete incidental music with the New Philharmonia Orchestra and soloists Hanneke van Bork and Alfreda Hodgson; it later was issued on CD. In October 1992, Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra recorded another album of the full score for Deutsche Grammophon; they were joined by soloists Frederica von Stade and Kathleen Battle as well as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Actress Judi Dench was heard reciting those excerpts from the play that were acted against the music.
Magic Street (2005) is an urban fantasy novel by Orson Scott Card. This book follows the magical events in the Baldwin Hills section of contemporary Los Angeles, including the life of protagonist Mack Street, his foster brother Cecil Tucker, a trickster identified variously as Bag Man, Puck, Mr. Christmas, and numerous other members of this upscale community of African-Americans.
The storyline frequently refers to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and elements of Western and European folklore. In the author’s note, Card credits friend Roland Bernard Brown with goading him into writing a novel featuring a black hero, and “thanks to Queen Latifah for putting (the Yolanda White character) on a motorcycle.”
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and Adaptation is the second of the touring Opera Preview Series and has been written specifically for high school literature or drama classes. Stephen Carey, Assistant Artistic Director and Accompanist, and Kristin Vienneau, mezzo-soprano Artist-in-Residence, will perform as well as teach the class. Students will learn about the play, the new opera and adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. For more information, please see below. If you are interested in other education programs at Opera Memphis, visit www.operamemphis.org/education.cfm or contact Sarah Squire at firstname.lastname@example.org or 901.202.4548.
Opera Preview Series: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and Adaptation
November 29 – December 10, 2010
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – OPERA A CAPPELLA, a collaboration with Playhouse on the Square and featuring DeltaCappella/RIVA, is a new adaptation of Shakespeare’s play by former Opera Memphis Artistic and General Director Michael Ching. The performing artist will discuss Shakespeare and theatre for all, other adaptations of Shakespeare’s works in literature and film, and sing selections from the opera and other works with lyrics by Shakespeare. Interactive student readings and comments will show how particular songs from the opera highlight Shakespeare’s language. The program is best suited for a classroom rather than a large assembly. Opera Memphis will provide a study guide for teachers for further study after the program. Students groups have the opportunity to purchase tickets to a matinee or performance by contacting the Playhouse on the Square box office.
Dates: November 29 – December 10, 2010 (no earlier than a start time of 9am)
Cost: $150 per performance ($100 each additional performance)
Location: Within 1 hour of the Clark Opera Memphis Center
Duration: 45 minutes (can be adjusted to length of a class period)
Grades: 9 – 12
GROUPS to A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – OPERA A CAPPELLA
Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper, Memphis
Call Playhouse on the Square at 901.726.4656 to reserve seats
Matinee Performance – Jan 25 & 26 at 10:00 am; admission grades 7-12: $7
Evening Performance – Jan 21 – Feb 13 (times vary); students under 18: $15
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“The course of true love never did run smooth;”
Shakespeare’s best-loved play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream endures as an obvious choice for outdoor theatre on a warm summer evening. The marriage of Theseus to Hippolyta serves as a backdrop to tangled loves, amateur dramatics, and an argument between the Fairy Queen and King, Titania and Oberon, with events spilling over from their Fairy Kingdom into the real world of the forest.
Script Adaptation: John McDonald
Characters & Artwork: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Lettering: Jim Campbell
UK Publication Date: February 2011 (estimated)
Format: 144 pages
Matthew Wallhead: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ars Magica)
Wendy Froud et al.: A Midsummer Night’s Faery Tale
Emma Craig: A Midsummer Night’s Magic
Kathryn Kramer: Midsummer Night’s Desire
Cleo Chadwick: A Midsummer Night’s Kiss
John Meade Falkner: A Midsummer Night’s Marriage
K. M. Peyton: A Midsummer Night’s Death
Trevor Barnes: A Midsummer Night’s Killing
Robert F. Baylus: A Midsummer Night’s Murder
Lee Crosby: A Midsummer Night’s Murder
Robert F. Baylus: A Midsummer Night’s Murder
Ware Budlong: Midsummer Night’s Murder
Jill Barnett, et alia: Midsummer Night’s Madness
Uwe Timm: Midsummer Night
Elizabeth Shenkin: Midsummer’s Nightmare
Frances Moyer Stevens: Midsummer Nightmare
John Heston Willey: Midsummer Nights with the Great Dreamer
Marvin Bell: Poetry for a Midsummer’s Night
Julian Rios: Larva: Midsummer Night’s Babel
Poul Anderson: A Midsummer Tempest
The phenomenology of adaptation of classics: A Midsummer Night’s Dream as viewed
by Ingmar Bergman’s and Woody Allen’s perspectives.
This is an essay that deals with the the phenomenology of Shakesperean work A Midsummer Night’s Dream and its adaptations.
“Michael Kelly has been an actor, director, producer and arts educator for the past twenty years. He is a graduate of the Studio 58 acting program in Vancouver. Michael also holds an M.F.A. in Directing from York University, Toronto. He is the founder and current Artistic Director of Shakespeare In Action theatre company in Toronto.
“During the 80s he trained in classical acting, directing and voice production with Tina Packer and Kristin Linklater from Shakespeare and Co. in Lenox Mass. as well as mentoring with Cicely Berry, renowned voice director, from the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is the founding director of the Teaching Shakespeare Summer Institute at York University.
His work as an arts educator has received international recognization; conducting teacher training courses in Canada, England, Germany, and New Zealand. He currently serves as an artist in the schools with The Royal Conservatory of Music, Centre for Learning Through the Arts. His directing credits include many contemporary and Shakespearean plays and projects as well as conducting master class workshops for Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, London, Stratford Festival, Canada, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, and the Shakespeare Globe Centres in Australia and New Zealand.
“He has taught period styles acting for the ETI Performing Arts School, NZ, theatre studies at York University, as well as drama and acting Shakespeare courses at George Brown College, Randolph Academy for the Arts, York University, Equity Showcase Theatre, the National Youth Drama School, NZ and conducts yearly classes for The Actors Workshop” (5 May 2004 qtd from http://www.modworld.com/sia/about-michael.html).
“SIA’s [Shakespeare in Action’s] production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream features gender and colour-blind casting of 7 actors who play 21 roles. By incorporating masks and puppets, Kelly hopes to spark the imaginations of young audiences, using visual elements to attract their ears to the story and language of Shakespeare” (qtd. from Press Release. 2001).
A Caribbean Midsummer Night’s Dream
Adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“The director, Dr. Azra Francis from the University of Windsor, has a long history of professional theatre beginning in his native South Africa. His graduate work while at university dealt with the cross-cultural influence of Shakespeare and he also produced a production of Macbeth in Zulu” (“Caribbean Version of Shakespeare.” Contrast).
“Black Theatre Canada, celebrating its tenth anniversary, has adapted the original [A Midsummer Night’s Dream] somewhat, shortened it a bit and, while retaining most of the script, has added a distinct new flavor, a new dimension enriched by the sounds and sights of the Caribbean–its music, dances, costumes, speech rhythms, drumbeats, plus a mixed company of both black and white actors who speak Shakespeare’s poetic prose with charm and intelligence” (Ryan “The Dream with New Beat”).
A Midsummer Night’s Mash-up
Adapting Shakespeare as a Canada Day Dance Party by MARK MCCUTCHEON.
Theo and Polly have come to Dream Park to celebrate their daughter Hermia’s engagement. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and the night ahead holds revelations, fairies, transformations and plenty of love juice.
Imelda Staunton, Bill Paterson, Sharon Small, Lennie James and Johnny Vegas star in Peter Bowker’s updating of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In the woods of Dream Park holiday centre, Titania (Sharon Small) and Oberon (Lennie James), King and Queen of the Fairies, have had an argument, and Titania has stormed off in a sulk. Oberon is furious – he’s got a marriage to save and nuptials to bless, and only mischevious hobgoblin Puck (Dean Lennox Kelly) to help him do it.
Meanwhile, long-married couple Polly (Imelda Staunton) and Theo (Bill Paterson) are arriving at Dream Park for a weekend celebrating their daughter Hermia’s (Zoe Tapper) engagement to childhood friend James Demetrius (William Ash). Hermia seems uneasy, though, and the reason why becomes clear when a handsome young man rushes in and ruins her father’s speech. Introducing him as Xander (Rupert Evans) to her parents, Hermia drops a bombshell – she loves him, not James.
Theo is horrified, and tells her she’s broken his heart. He’s prevented from going after the pair by Polly, who advises giving them time. Hermia’s best friend Helena (Michelle Bonnard) follows them and learns that they are planning to spend the night in an abandoned holiday villa.
Helena tries to comfort James, who she clearly cares for, but he is thinking only of Hermia. In desperation, Helena reveals she might know where her friend is.
Meanwhile, Oberon has had an idea of how to revenge himself on Titania, and commands Puck to bring him some love juice – a drug which makes people fall in love with the first thing they see.
While Puck’s off fetching it, Oberon runs into Helena and James, just as James rejects Helena. On Puck’s return, Oberon orders him to put love juice into James’ eyes and make him fall in love with Helena. Then he’s off, to drip some juice into Titania’s eyes.
Puck messes up his task, leaving Xander in love with Helena by mistake. Then he has a bit of fun turning terrible comedian Peter Bottom (Johnny Vegas) into a monster. Just then, Titania awakes, and falls for the half-donkey comedian, taking him back to her love nest for a night of passion.
Elsewhere, Oberon has spotted James still chasing Hermia, and demands Puck gets things right – which he does, eventually. He seems pleased about Titania’s humiliation at first. However, a late night chat with Theo, also reeling from an argument with his wife, makes both men face up to the mistakes they’re making in their relationships. Both set off to try to make amends.
The next day, all is well. Polly and Theo renew their vows, Hermia and Xander are in love, James and Helena are in love, Oberon and Titania are reconciled. And Bottom? Well, he has a glittery thong to remember his midsummer night’s dream by.
Directed by Elijah Moshinsky
Taping dates: 19–25 May 1981
First transmitted in the UK: 13 December 1981
First transmitted in the US: 19 April 1982
Phil Daniels as Puck
Bruce Savage as Peaseblossom
Massimo Mezzofanti as Cobweb
Dominic Martelli as Moth
Timothy Cross as Mustardseed
The 1981 BBC Television Shakespeare production was produced by Jonathan Miller. It starred Helen Mirren as Titania, Peter McEnery as Oberon, Robert Lindsay as Lysander, Geoffrey Palmer as Quince and Brian Glover as Bottom.
In 2005 ShakespeaRe-Told, the BBC TV series, aired an updated of the play. It was written by Peter Bowker. The cast includes Johnny Vegas as Bottom, Dean Lennox Kelly as Puck, Bill Paterson as Theo (a conflation of Theseus and Egeus), and Imelda Staunton as his wife Polly (Hippolyta). Lennie James plays Oberon and Sharon Small is Titania. Zoe Tapper and Michelle Bonnard play Hermia and Helena.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been adapted as a film several times. The following are the best known.
Anime: In 2005, xxxHolic – A Midsummer’s Night Dream was released in theaters, sharing loose similarities with the play.
In 2005 Midsummer Dream was released. It is loosely based on Shakespeare’s play.
Disney shorts: A Midsummer Night’s Dream was adaptated into a Disney short starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck as Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena, respectively. In the end, the story is revealed to be a dream that Mickey has during a picnic. This short was featured in Disney’s Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse.
Web Series: In May 2008 a loose steampunk adaptation called “Wormtooth Nation” was released.
George Balanchine‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his first original full-length ballet, was premiered by the New York City Ballet on 17 January 1962. It was chosen to open the NYCB’s first season at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center in 1964. Balanchine interpolated further music by Mendelssohn into his Dream, including the overture from Athalie. A film version of the ballet was released in 1966.
- Frederick Ashton created his “The Dream”, a short (not full-length) ballet set exclusively to the famous music by Félix Mendelssohn, arranged by John Lanchbery, in 1964. It was created on England’s Royal Ballet and has since entered the repertoire of other companies, notably The Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
- John Neumeier created his full-length ballet Ein Sommernachtstraume for his company at the Hamburg State Opera (Hamburgische Staatsoper) in 1977. Longer than Ashton’s or Balanchine’s earlier versions, Neumeier’s version includes other music by Mendelssohn along with the Midsummer Night’s Dream music, as well as music from the modern composer György Sándor Ligeti, and jaunty barrel organ music. Neumeier devotes the three sharply differing musical styles to the three character groups, with the aristocrats and nobles dancing to Mendelssohn, the fairies to Ligeti, and the rustics or mechanicals to the barrel organ. Neumeier set his A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2005.
- Elvis Costello composed the music for a full-length ballet Il Sogno, based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The music was subsequently released as a classical album by Deutsche Grammophon in 2004.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Spring Season at the Mercury Theatre comes to a close with a production of the Shakespeare classic ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ during June.
The Mercury Theatre Company will be performing Shakespeare’s tale of fairies and hobgoblins, appropriately enough during the month of June.
The story sees some starry-eyed lovers and a group of bumbling amateur actors rehearsing a play for a Royal Wedding becoming involved with the fairies and hobgoblins. The problem, however, is that they are at their most mischievous around the time of Midsummer’s Eve.
The Result: Both chaos and confusion!
The play is directed by Nikolai Foster, who broke all Mercury Theatre records in 2005 with her production of ‘Of Mice & Men’, so expectations are high for a similarly successful run.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on at the Mercury Theatre from the 1st to the 17th of June. Tickets cost from £7.00-£18.50.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Patrick Timmis.
A highly acclaimed Indian production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to Malvern.
Tim Supple’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been performed in Malvern from Tuesday 25 to
Saturday 29 September 2007.
This adaptation brings together the skills of actors, dancers, musicians and acrobats from across India and Sri Lanka.
The show enjoyed a sell-out run at Stratford earlier this year and comes to Malvern prior to a world tour.
Tickets prices range from £16 to £22, and are available from the Box Office on 01684 892277. Performances start at 8pm with matinees at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday.
British Astronomer William Herschel named the two moons of Uranus he discovered in 1787 after characters in the play, Oberon and Titania.
Film and television references
Rehearsals for a performance of the play by American servicemen stationed in Kent during WW2 appear in the 1946 Powell and Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death.
Porky’s II: The Next Day: The entire high school class presents a Shakespeare festival, which the local redneck religious leaders hypocritically shut down on the grounds of indecency (they are later revealed to have been involved in scandalous behavior themselves). One of the plays presented in the festival is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which the local preacher frowns on for having such lines as Theseus’s ” ‘Tis almost fairy time”.
Dead Poets Society: The tragic protagonist of the movie Dead Poets Society, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), was cast as Puck in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Only a few frames of his performance are seen, including the ending monologue which could be interpreted as a literary device used by the writer (Tom Schulman) to emphasize his unsuccessful plea to his father.
Disney’s animated series Gargoyles featured many characters from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, including Oberon, Titania, and, most prominently, Puck. In this series, Puck actually takes the form of Owen, loyal assistant to the main villain Xanatos. Later, Puck becomes the tutor for Xanatos’ quarter-fae son, Alex. He is wily, sprightly, and willing to have fun at the expense of others.
The episode “A Midwinter Night’s Dream” of the final season of The Golden Girls is very loosely based on the play.
Get Over It: The 2001 film stars Kirsten Dunst (Kelly Woods/Helena), Ben Foster (Berke Landers/Lysander), Melissa Sagemiller (Allison McAllister/Hermia) and Shane West (Bentley ‘Striker’ Scrumfeld/Demetrius) in a “teen adaptation” of Shakespeare’s play. The characters are set in high school, and in addition to some similarities in plot, there is a sub-plot involving the main characters acting in a musical production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
High School Musical 2: A 2007 Disney Channel Original Movie written with slight similarities to the plot of the play and a small reference to the play itself, where the name of the talent show in the film is entitled A Midsummer Night’s Talent Show. The original film, High School Musical, is based on another one of Shakespeare‘s works: Romeo and Juliet.
Were the World Mine, a 2008 musical independent film, involves a gay student cast in the role of Puck in his high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The plot revolves around the boy actually making the love-in-idleness potion and turning his crush, classmates and other residents of his town temporarily gay.
Season 2 of the critically acclaimed series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, featured a sub-plot going through the season about the supporting cast preparing to perform the play, which occurs in Opening Night.
In Syfy‘s series Eureka, one of the subplots to an episode was a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream reimagined in space, redubbed A Midsummer’s Night Invasion.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935 film) – directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, produced by Henry Blanke and adapted by Charles Kenyon and Mary C. McCall Jr.
The cast included James Cagney as Bottom, Mickey Rooney as Puck, Olivia de Havilland as Hermia, Joe E. Brown as Francis Flute, Dick Powell as Lysander and Victor Jory as Oberon. Many of the actors in this version had never performed Shakespeare, and never would do so again, notably Cagney and Brown, who were nevertheless highly acclaimed for their performances in the film
Much of Mendelssohn’s music was used, but re-orchestrated by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The ballet sequences featuring the fairies were choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska.
The film won two Academy Awards:
It was nominated for:
Best Picture – Henry Blanke, producer
Best Assistant Director – Sherry Shourds
Notably, Hal Mohr was not nominated for his work on the film; he won the Oscar thanks to a grass-roots write-in campaign. The next year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declared that it would not accept write-in votes for the awards.
The film was first released at 132 minutes, but was edited to 117 minutes for its general release run. The full 132 minute version was not seen again until it turned up on cable television in 1994. The film was then re-issued at its full length on VHS (its first video release was of the edited version). Later showings on Turner Classic Movies have restored the film’s pre-credits Overture, and its Exit Music, neither of which had been heard since its 1935 road show presentations. A DVD version was released in 2007; it runs 143 minutes (ASIN: B000QGE8JC).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968 film) – directed by Peter Hall.
The cast included Paul Rogers as Bottom, Ian Holm as Puck, Diana Rigg as Helena, Helen Mirren as Hermia, Ian Richardson as Oberon, Judi Dench as Titania, and Sebastian Shaw as Quince.
This film stars the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is directed by Peter Hall. It is sometimes confused with Peter Brook’s highly successful 1971 production, but the two are different, and Brook’s production was never filmed. The fairies in Peter Hall’s production wore green body paint. It received its U.S. premiere on CBS as a television special in early 1969.
A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982 film) – written and directed by Woody Allen.
The plot is loosely based on Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, with some elements from Shakespeare’s play.
1996 – directed by Adrian Noble.
The cast included Desmond Barrit as Bottom, Barry Lynch as Puck, Alex Jennings as Oberon/Theseus, and Lindsay Duncan as Titania/Hippolyta.
This film is based on Noble’s hugely popular Royal Shakespeare Company production. Its art design is eccentric, featuring a forest of floating light bulbs and a giant umbrella for Titania’s bower.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999 film) – written and directed by Michael Hoffman.
The cast included Kevin Kline as Bottom, Rupert Everett as Oberon, Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania, Stanley Tucci as Puck, Sophie Marceau as Hippolyta, Christian Bale as Demetrius, Dominic West as Lysander and Calista Flockhart as Helena.
This adaptation relocates the play’s action to Tuscany in the late 19th century.
1999 – written and directed by James Kerwin.
The cast included Travis Schuldt as Demetrius. Sets the Dream story against a surreal backdrop of techno clubs and ancient symbols.
2002 – A Midsummer Night’s Rave, directed by Gil Cates Jr.
This adaptation changes the setting to a modern rave. Puck is a drug dealer, the magic flower called “love-in-idleness” is replaced with magic ecstasy, and the King and Queen of Fairies are the host of the rave and the DJ.
Other differences include changing the character names such as ‘Lysander’ becoming ‘Xander’.
George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, his first original full-length ballet, was premiered by the New York City Ballet on 17 January 1962. It was chosen to open the NYCB’s first season at the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center in 1964. Balanchine interpolated further music by Mendelssohn into his Dream, including the overture from Athalie. A film version of the ballet was released in 1966.
Frederick Ashton created his “The Dream”, a short (not full-length) ballet set exclusively to the famous music by Félix Mendelssohn, arranged by John Lanchbery, in 1964. It was created on England’s Royal Ballet and has since entered the repertoire of other companies, notably The Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
The Fairy-Queen by Henry Purcell consists of a set of masques meant to go between acts of the play, as well as some minimal rewriting of the play to be current to 17th century audiences.
In 1826, Felix Mendelssohn composed an overture for concert performance, inspired by the play. It was first performed in 1827. In 1842, partly because of the fame of the overture, and partly because his employer King Frederick William IV of Prussia liked the incidental music that Mendelssohn had written for other plays that had been staged at the palace in German translation, Mendelssohn was commissioned to write incidental music for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be staged in 1843 in Potsdam. He incorporated the existing Overture into the incidental music, which was used in most stage versions through the 19th century. Among the pieces in the incidental music is his Wedding March, used most often today as a recessional in Western weddings.
The choreographer Marius Petipa, more famous for his collaborations with Tchaikovsky (on the ballets Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty) made another ballet adaptation for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg with additional music and adaptations to Mendelssohn’s score by Léon Minkus. The revival premiered 14 July 1876. English choreographer Frederick Ashton also created a 40-minute ballet version of the play, retitled to The Dream. George Balanchine was another to create a Midsummer Night’s Dream ballet based on the play, using Mendelssohn’s music.
Between 1917 and 1939 Carl Orff also wrote incidental music for a German version of the play, Ein Sommernachtstraum (performed in 1939). Since Mendelssohn was a Jew, his music had been banned by the Nazi regime, and the Nazi cultural officials put out a call for new music for the play: Orff was one of the musicians who responded. He later reworked the music for a final version, completed in 1964.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Over Hill, Over Dale, from Act 2, is the third of the Three Shakespeare Songs set to music by the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. He wrote the pieces for a cappella SATB choir in 1951 for the British Federation of Music Festivals, and they remain a popular part of British choral repertoire today.
The play was adapted into an opera, with music by Benjamin Britten and libretto by Britten and Peter Pears. The opera was first performed on 1 June 1960 at Aldeburgh.
The theatre company, Moonwork put on a production of Midsummer in 1999. It was conceived by Mason Pettit, Gregory Sherman and Gregory Wolfe (who directed it). The show featured a rock-opera version of the play within a play, Pyramus & Thisbe with music written by Rusty Magee. The music for the rest of the show was written by Andrew Sherman.
Progressive Rock guitarist Steve Hackett, best known for his work with Genesis, made a classical adaptation of the play in 1997.
Hans Werner Henze’s Eighth Symphony is inspired by sequences from the play.
Botho Strauß’ play Der Park (1983) is based on characters and motifs from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Similarly, motifs and structures from the Dream are used in The Morning After Optimism (1971) by Tom Murphy and A Bucket of Eels (1994) by Paul Godfrey. St. John’s Eve written in 1853 by Henrik Ibsen relies heavily on the Shakespearean play. The Thyme of the Season, written in 2006 by Duncan Pflaster is a sequel to Shakespeare‘s play, set on Halloween. Terry Pratchett’s 1992 novel Lords and Ladies features a wedding, an estranged King and Queen of some mythic note and a band of rude mechanicals putting on a play.
In Angela Carter’s last novel, Wise Children, the character Genghis Khan directs a film production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Hollywood with his first wife Daisy Duck as Titania and main characters, Dora and Nora Chance, as Peaseblossom and Mustardseed.
For his series The Sandman, Neil Gaiman included a fantastical retelling of the play’s origins in the graphic novel Dream Country. It won several awards, and is distinguished by being the only comic that has ever won a World Fantasy Award. In 2006–2007, comic-strip artist Brooke McEldowney, creator of 9 Chickweed Lane and the webcomic Pibgorn, adapted the story into a 20th century setting in Pibgorn, using characters from both his comic series in the “cast”. A Midwinter Morning’s Tale is comic of the Corto Maltese series by Hugo Pratt. Oberon, Puck, Morgan Le Fey and Merlin appear in the comic as a representation of the Gaelic and Celtic fantasy beings. They choose Corto Maltese as their knight to fight for their sake against a possible German invasion in the context of World War I.
Jean Betts of New Zealand also adapted the play to make a comedic feminist spoof, “Revenge of the Amazons”(1996). The gender-roles are reversed (play actors are feminist “thesbians”/ Oberon falls in love with a “bunny girl”). It is set in the 1970s with many social references and satire.
Pibgorn Rep: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a delightfully romantic adaptation by comic and graphic artist Brooke McEldowney.
Set in the high-Deco 1930s, the story tries to stay close to the original version as it portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke and Duchess of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta, and with fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest, with characters from Brooke McEldowney’s two popular comic strips, Pibgorn and the award-winning 9 Chickweed Lane, portraying the different characters from Shakespeare’s original.
Magic Street (2005) by Orson Scott Card revisits the work as a continuation of the play under the premise that the story by Shakespeare was actually derived from true interactions with fairy folk. A Midsummer Night’s Gene (1997) by Andrew Harman is a sci-fi parody of Shakespeare’s play. Faerie Tale, the 1988 fantasy novel by Raymond E. Feist, contains many references to the mythical characters represented in Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“The Sisters Grimm (novel series)”, written by Micheal Buckly, features Puck, A.K.A: the Trickster King, as one of the main characters. In the fourth book of the series, “Once Upon a Crime”, Titania, Oberon, and other Faerie Folk are introduced.
The teen book, This Must Be Love (2004) by Tui Sutherland is based on the play. The characters have similar or identical names to the original. One sub-plot involves a school play of another Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet, and another sub-plot involves the main characters going to see a play entitled “The Fairies Quarrel” in which a character acts like Puck amongst the main characters.
In Leslie Livingston’s series for young adults, Wondrous Strange, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is shown as a realm, with similar (if not exact) characters in this realm.
There is a certain allusion to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in “A Bed of Flowers” by Auberon Waugh (1972).
Other interesting websites
Midsummer Night’s Dream:
MSND Silent movie 1909
Choreography and balletic scenario by Dennis Nahat (1989)
Folk-lore of Shakespeare by T.F.Thiselton Dryer 
The Feminist Subtext of Shakespeare’s Leading Ladies by Emily Squyer, Nov.2000
Feminist interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by Frederick Martin-Del-Campo
Feminist History, Theory, and Practice in the Shakespeare Classroom by Robert I Lublin. Theatre Topics. Baltimore: Sep 2004.Vol. 14, Iss. 2; pg. 397, 14 pgs
Shakespeare: Listening to the Women by Alice Arnott Oppen
The Sources and Analogues of ‘A Midsummer-night’s Dream’. Compiled by Frank Sidgwick.
The Free Library, Associated University Presses
“Mythology in A midsummer night’s dream”. University of Northern British Columbia
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
The Questors Playhouse March 2007
(Much Ado About Nothing adaptation on stage)
Directed & Designed by Steve Fitzpatrick
Choreography by Frances Whittaker
Original music composed by Yaron Hollander
Lighting design by Andy Torble
Sound design by Alan Smith
Costume design by Sarah Andrews
Assisi Azzorpardi, Katy Baggs, Robert Baker-Glenn, Sarah Beebe, Howard Benbrook, Hainsley Bennett, Stephanie Boyle, Tony Bromham, Julian Casey, Sunita Dugal, Jemma Edmunds, James Ellis, Russell Fleet, Andrea Gray, Martin Halvey, David Hovatter, Claudia Kailich-Ofner, Sarah Morrison, Mark Oosterveen, Nikki Squire, lan Stirling, Derek Stoddart, Rosalind Storey, Matilda Tucker, Paul Vincent, Alexis Wieroniey.
Sarah Andrews, Claire Auvache, James Bromfield, Jim Craddock, Andrew Davies, Charlotte Drew, Arthur England, Kate Gardiner, Richard Halberstadt, Michael Hayes, Francois Langton, Jovanka Litvinenko, Sarah Parkinson, Caroline Phelan, Beth Pitman, Alison Pollard, Jack Richardson, Alan Smith, Diane Valtisiaris, Claire Walker, Richard Williams.
Much Ado About Nothin’09, directed by Gary Meitrott.
An adapted version set in the South at the outbreak of the Civil War.
At Manassas, Virginia, Don Pedro, a well-to-do Southern Gentleman from Atlanta, and his officers,
Claudio and Benedick, have just returned from a successful battle. Leonato, a wealthy plantation
owner in Manassas, welcomes them for passing by and invites them to stay for a month
and to have a masked party.
Leonato’s niece, Beatrice, and Benedick, longtime adversaries, carry on their arguments. Claudio’s
feelings for Hero, Leonato’s only daughter, are rekindled on his seeing her, and Claudio soon announces
to Benedick his intention to court her. Benedick tries to dissuade his friend, but is unsuccessful in the
face of Don Pedro’s encouragement. While Benedick teases Claudio, Benedick swears that he will
never get married. Don Pedro laughs at him and tells him that when he has found the right person he
shall get married.
A masquerade ball is planned in celebration, giving a disguised Don Pedro the opportunity to woo
Hero on Claudio’s behalf. Don John uses this situation to get revenge on his brother Don Pedro by
telling young Claudio that Don Pedro is actually wooing Hero for himself. Claudio then becomes furious
at Don Pedro and confronts him. The misunderstanding is quickly resolved and Claudio wins Hero’s hand
Don Pedro and his men, bored at the prospect of waiting a week for the matrimonial ceremony to take
place, harbor a plan to matchmake Beatrice and Benedick. The men, led by Don Pedro, proclaim Beatrice’s
love for Benedick while knowing he is eavesdropping on their conversation. The women, led by Hero, do the
same likewise to Beatrice. Struck by the fact that they are apparently thought to be too proud to love each
other, Beatrice and Benedick, neither willing to bear the reputation of pride, each decides to requite the
love of the other.
Meanwhile Don John, ‘The Bastard’, Don Pedro’s illegitimate brother, is a malcontent who plots to ruin
Claudio and Hero’s wedding plans by casting aspersions upon Hero’s character. His follower Borachio
courts Margaret, Hero’s chambermaid, calling her “Hero”, at Hero’s open bedroom window while Don John
leads Don Pedro and Claudio to spy below. The latter two, mistaking Margaret for Hero, are convinced of
The next day, during the wedding at the church, Claudio climactically refuses to marry Hero. He and
Don Pedro humiliate Hero publicly before a stunned congregation and Margaret, who is attending the
wedding, does not speak up in Hero’s defense. The two leave, leaving the rest in shock. Hero, who has
fainted from shock, revives after Don Pedro and Claudio leave, only to be reprimanded by her father. The
presiding Friar interrupts, believing Hero to be innocent, and he convinces the family to fake Hero’s death
in order to extract the truth and Claudio’s remorse.
Leonato and Antonio, Hero’s uncle, subsequently blame Don Pedro and Claudio for Hero’s death, and
both challenge Claudio to duels. Benedick, forcefully prompted by Beatrice, does the same.
Astonishingly, however, on the night of Don John’s treachery, the local Watch has apprehended Borachio
and his ally Conrade. Despite the Watch’s comic ineptness (headed by Madam Dogberry, a master of
malapropisms), they have overheard the duo discussing their evil plans. The Watch arrest them and
eventually obtain the villains’ confession, whilst informing Leonato of Hero’s innocence. Though Don John
has meanwhile fled the city, a force is sent to capture him. Claudio, though maintaining he made an honest
mistake, is repentant; he agrees to not only post a proper epitaph for Hero, but to marry a substitute,
Hero’s cousin (not Beatrice), in her place.
During Claudio’s second wedding, however, as the dancers enter, the “cousin” is unmasked as Hero herself,
to a most surprised and gratified Claudio. An impromptu dance is announced. Beatrice and Benedick,
prompted by their friends’ interference, finally confess their love for each other. As the play draws to a close, a messenger arrives with news of Don John’s capture – but his punishment is postponed another day so that the couples can enjoy their new found happiness.
Think Much Ado About Nothing doesn’t have much to do with you? Check out our online animation version, and see what this story might be like if it happened in a high school just like yours.
True to the original vision of the authors, our books have been further enhanced by using only the finest artists – giving you a truly wonderful reading experience that you’ll return to again and again. Timeless stories, receiving our own original and exciting treatment; from Shakespeare to Dickens to Shelley to Brontë…
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Turning Classic Literature into Classic Comics – that’s Classical Comics!
Click here and download the ‘Classical Comics’ Quick Text of Much Ado about Nothing (comic adaptation). The 2008 set sections, presented in comic book form with reduced dialogue for easier reading.
In 2006 the American Music Theatre Project produced The Boys Are Coming Home, a musical adaptation by Berni Stapleton and Leslie Arden that sets Much Ado About Nothing in World War II America.
The Boys Are Coming Home was the second new musical to emerge from AMTP at Northwestern University. Written in 2005 and based on Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, this musical is set in the year 1945, when American servicemen returned home from World War II. With music and lyrics by Leslie Arden and book by Berni Stapleton, The Boys Are Coming Home is a captivating journey through the joys and challenges of post-war life. The Boys Are Coming Home was directed by Gary Griffin (assisted by Jason Tyne).
The Boys Are Coming Home was chosen for inclusion in the National Alliance for Music Theatre Festival of New Works in New York City and was renamed One Step Forward.
It was listed on the Goodman Theatre’s 2007-8 season with a new book by Rebecca Gilman and was to be directed by David Petrarca. This would have been the second Arden/Petrarca team-up with their first being Goodman’s production of The House of Martin Guerre back in 1996, but irreconcilable artistic points of view among the key collaborators scuttled the planned world premiere musical (which reverted to its original title The Boys Are Coming Home) and director Chuck Smith’s staging of Ain’t Misbehavin’, the popular revue of songs by Fats Waller which was originally slated for April-May in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre was bumped to the Albert Theatre and assumed the dates of The Boys are Coming Home.
THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME, AMTP’s third new musical undertaking was a new musical loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” It opened July 28, 2006 at the Barber Theatre.
THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME features a book by Berni Stapleton, inspired by an idea from Timothy French, and music and lyrics by Leslie Arden. As composer-lyricist Leslie Arden explains, THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME is set in 1945, right on the cusp of swing and bebop. What a beautiful metaphor for a show that explores the ramifications of World War II in America, the ‘just war’ that was a catalyst for overwhelming social, sexual, racial, and political change.” The cast featured a mix of student performers and several prominent Chicago music theatre professionals.
Directed by Gary Griffin, THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME explores the new order of male-female relationships that came into being when our soldiers returned from World War II. BOYS was initially commissioned by the National Arts Center of Canada and had its first reading there. The honorary producers for BOYS are Harold Kaplan of the Chicago law firm of Gardner Carton and Douglas LLP and Bill Donnell.
Leslie Arden is a multi-award winning book writer and lyricist whose work “House of Martin Guerre” had an acclaimed run at the Goodman Theatre in the late 1990s. Berni Stapleton is one of Canada’s leading writers and performance artists.
THE BOYS ARE COMING HOME met with rave reviews. Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune raved that “this show is smarter and has a better score that at least 80 percent of the shows on Broadway in the last five years.” Hedy Weiss of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that “wherever it goes next, The Boys are Coming Home deserves a long and productive stage life.”
The BOYS ARE COMING HOME was chosen for inclusion in the National Alliance for Music Theatre Festival of New Works in New York City and has been renamed “One Step Forward”. The NAMT festival is one of the most prestigious new musical development programs in America today.
Another adaptation is the 1973 New York Shakespeare Festival production by Joseph Papp, shot on videotape and released on VHS and DVD, that presents more of the text than Kenneth Branagh’s version. The Papp production stars Sam Waterston, Kathleen Widdoes and Barnard Hughes.
Much Ado about Nothing is an opera in four acts by Charles Villiers Stanford with a libretto by Julian Sturgis based on Shakespeare’s play Much Ado about Nothing. It premiered to considerable success at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 30 May 1901. The premiere cast included David Bispham as Bendedict, Marie Brema as Beatrice, Suzanne Adams as Hero, John Coates as Claudio, and Pol Plançon as Friar Abby.
Although rarely performed now, it was revived at the 1964 Wexford Opera Festival in a production directed by Peter Ebert.
Béatrice et Bénédict (Beatrice and Benedick) is an opera in two acts by Hector Berlioz. The French libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based closely on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It was first performed at the Theater der Stadt, Baden-Baden on 9 August 1862.
Berlioz completed the score between the completion and production of his magnum opus, the monumental opera Les Troyens. Shortly after its successful premiere in Baden, Berlioz conducted the first two performances of a German version in Weimar, where he was “overwhelmed by all sorts of kind attention,” as he recorded in his memoirs.
Béatrice et Bénédict was first seen in France at the Opéra-Comique in 1890; it was again seen at that theatre in 2010. Although rather infrequently performed and not part of the standard operatic repertoire, other recent productions have included Amsterdam and Welsh National Opera tour in 2001, Sante Fe in 2004, Strasbourg in 2005, Chicago in 2007 and Houston in 2008.
There are several recordings of the opera, and the overture, which refers to several passages in the opera without becoming a pot-pourri, is frequently heard in concerts, as well as having been recorded many times.
Time: The 16th century.
Place: Messina, Sicily.
Don Pedro, prince of Aragon, is visiting Messina after a successful military victory over the Moors, which is celebrated by all of Sicily. He is joined by two friends and fellow soldiers, Claudio and Bénédict. They are greeted by Léonato, governor of Messina, together with his daughter, Héro, and niece, Béatrice.
Héro awaits the return of her fiancé, Claudio. Béatrice inquires about and scorns Bénédict. They trade insults and tease each other. Bénédict swears to his friends that he will never marry. Later, Claudio and Pedro scheme to trick Bénédict into marrying Béatrice. Knowing that he is listening, Léonato assures Pedro that Béatrice loves Bénédict. Upon hearing this, Bénédict resolves that Béatrice’s love must not go unrequited, and so he decides to pursue her. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Héro and her attendant, Ursula, manage to play a similar trick on Béatrice who now believes that Bénédict is secretly in love with her.
To celebrate the pending wedding of Claudio and Héro, Léonato hosts a masquerade party. A local music teacher, Somarone, leads the group in song and everybody enjoys themselves except Béatrice who realizes that she has fallen in love with Bénédict. As she turns to leave she is met by Bénédict, prompting an exchange in which they both attempt to conceal their love for each other. A notary solemnizes the marriage and, as arranged by Léonato, asks a second couple to come forward. Bénédict summons the courage to declare his love to Béatrice and the two sign the wedding contract along with Héro and Claudio.
Much Ado About Nothing (2004, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan)
Title Much Ado About Nothing
Theater Company Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
Theaters South Saskatchewan River (Canada)
Release Locations Canada
Play Connections Much Ado About Nothing (performance)
Setting North West Canada. 1875
Media Collections poster (1 artifact)
production still (12 artifacts)
program (1 artifact)
Balthasar Ricardo Alvarado
Watch Ricardo Alvarado
Leonato Sheldon Bergstrom
Ursula Carole Birch
Sexton Ralph Blankenagel
Don Pedro Matt Burgess
Hero Angela Christie
Claudio Jaron Francis
Dogberry Alphonse Gaudet
Benedick Brad Grass
Friar Francis Sean Hoy
Conrade Matt Josdal
Antonio Tom O’Hara
Watch Tom O’Hara
Beatrice Andrea Runge
Borachio Paul Schulz
Margaret Jennelle Sutter
Production Team and Crew Overview
Director Mark von Eschen
Costume Designer Beverley Kobelsky
Set Designer Stephen Wade
Lighting Designer Stephen Wade
Choreographer Shannon Miko
Technical Director Richard Monseler
Production Manager Richard Monseler
Production Stage Manager Laura Kennedy
Assistant Stage Manager Jody Longworth
Wardrobe Carla Orosz
Properties Penny Paget
Theater Company Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan
In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare’s plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought great performances from leading contemporary actors. Click here for more information.
“Much Ado About Nothing is about males and females and the different ways males and females handle things. It’s about belonging to a peer group and the things you do to stay in it and the times you know when you have to break away from it, and about feeling outcast from that group and how you handle that. it’s about friendship and trust and love. It’s about being real and not real, there’s so much when people aren’t being true to themselves. The times when they are really shine through.” (Jo Howarth, Director of the adaptation)
Click here for more information about this adaptation.
Free educational resources to support learning for Much Ado About Nothing can be found on this innovative and interactive website.
This is a website that explores Much Ado About Nothing. They have approached the play in four different ways, looking at its language, the characters and their motivations, discussing the themes and issues in the play and finally by staging the play we look at text in performance. You can’t forget that at the end of the day Shakespeare’s plays were written to be performed and that’s where the magic really happens. They hope you will have a good look around and enjoy their site.
The work of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project continues with the publication of “wIlyam SeQpIr’s famous play paghmo’ tIn mIS” (“The Confusion Is Great Because of Nothing”), ISBN 158715501X. Now available from the KLI, and for less than the usual retail price! This new Klingon restoration is the work of Nick Nicholas, one of the authors of our version of Hamlet, a Klingonist of great note and experience.
This was actually the first of the Bard’s work to be restored to Klingon, even before our famous Hamlet restoration, and now it has been revised and edited and improved to bring you a fine example of Klingon belles lettres. Don’t miss out, order a copy!
On this website you can find an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing by Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director. He performed Much Ado (1969).
In 1981, Peter Gill directed it in The National Theatre. Click here.
Milton’s numerous film and TV credits include his recent appearance in the recurring role of Gabriel in MyNetworkTV’s “Wicked, Wicked Games.”
Classically trained he has toured regionally as an actor, stand-up comic and as a member of the Second City’s National Touring Company in Canada.
Milton is a graduate of both the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and the University of Arizona, where he received his Master of Fine Arts.
He is a member of AFTRA, SAG, and ACTRA.
In the photography of above he appears acting with Marchelle Barquisseau, Adrienne Sweeney and Erica Rominger in an adaptation of
“Much Ado About Nothing” (an adaptation pirates).
Despite the darkness and difficulties at the dimax of this play love wins through and the lively comedy leads to a happy ending.
In Messina, as the Duke Don Pedro and his court return from a recently concluded war, a message comes to Leonato that the Duke intends to visit his house for a few days. The Duke’s party arrives with Count Claudio, who had before the war been attracted by Leonato’s only daughter. Hero. Another of the court visitors is Benedick, a bachelor, who enjoys speaking his mind in witty argument with Hero’s cousin and companion, the Lady Beatrice.
Leonato holds a masked ball to celebrate the end of the war and the engagement of Claudio to Hero is arranged while the Duke’s brother, Don John, resenting the celebrations, seeks a way to spoil the general happiness. Don John plots with the soldiers, Borachio and Conrade, to deceive Claudio into believing Hero is false to him. As a result a trick is carried out with the unwitting assistance of Hero’s maid, Margaret, who talks from Hero’s bedroom window with Borachio at night while Claudio and the Duke watch secretly from a distance, under the delusion that the girl at the window is Hero.
Hero and Don Pedro meanwhile are convinced that Benedick and Beatrice are ideal partners and by means of overheard conversations the two realise they do indeed love one another. (…) Read more.
Discussion questions dealing with the adaptation for the screen of Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation). Click here.
Here you can find a collection of interesting essays on Much Ado About Nothing and some adaptations such as Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation.
I have found a very interesting website because somebody have recollected lots of links dealing with Shakespeare adaptations (Shakespeare in literature, music (operas, musicals, songs etc.), ballet, film, paintings, sculpture, architecture, Shakespeare as a popular icon, Shakespeare in different countries, tourism, sites and metasites on the net, biographies and authorship debates, Shakespeare in the classroom… Not all the links are available but I think this website could be interesting in this research. Click here.
Here, on this website, you can know more about Much Ado About Nothing adaptations.
That’s John Gielgud behind the
mask, in a 1952 production at
the Phoenix Theatre in London.
Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 film based on William Shakespeare’s play. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also played the role of Benedick.
Much Ado About Nothing was released on May 7, 1993, reaching 200 U.S. screens at its widest release. It earned $22 million at the U.S. box office and $36 million total worldwide, which, despite failing to reach the mark set by Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, made it one of the most financially successful Shakespeare films ever released. It was also entered into the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Just another adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing of Folger Theatre in 2009.
Click on Folger Shakespeare Library to know more details (who were the staff, the Production Team, the cast, …
Take the 60 Second challenge!
Creating your own interpretation of Shakespeare in one minute – make a film or audio, take a scene or whole play, keep it classic or make it modern, it’s up to you. Very interesting link dealing with Much Ado About Nothing.
Canadian Adaptation Shakespeare Project is the first research project of its kind devoted to the systematic exploration and documentation of the ways in which Shakespeare has been adapted into a national, multicultural theatrical practice. Originally launched in 2004 by Professor Daniel Fischlin, CASP Version 2 was released in 2007 offering more than double the content, including learning, teaching, multimedia, and research resources and pedagogical tools related to how Shakespeare has been adapted into (and out of) Canadian theatre. CASP Version 2 reflects the project’s ongoing commitment to blending the best practices of humanities research, new media, online publishing, accessibility, and community engagement.
CASP Founder and Director, Daniel Fischlin; photo courtesy of Dean Palmer
Much Ado About Nothing Study Guide
Much Ado About Nothing E-Text contains the full text of Much Ado About Nothing. I think it could be interesting to know the existence of this modern tool dealing with Much Ado About Nothing.
An e-text (from “electronic text”; sometimes written as etext) is, generally, any text-based information that is available in a digitally encoded human-readable format and read by electronic means, but more specifically it refers to files in the ASCII character encoding.
Much Ado About Nothing Essays
Much Ado About Nothing literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Much Ado About Nothing. I think it could be interesting to reflect in this post the point of view and the opinion of a lot of people in some essays about Much Ado About Nothing.
When the bickering between broadcasters Beatrice and Benedick gets too much to take, their colleagues at South West TV come up with a cunning plan to shut the pair up. Meanwhile, lovely weathergirl Hero and dashing reporter Claude are a match made in heaven – but does everyone want to see them so happy?
Sarah Parish, Damian Lewis, Tom Ellis and Billie Piper star in David Nicholls updating of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing – one of the Bard’s best loved and funniest plays.
You can find about this adaptation more information here.
In this link (www.experiencefestival.com)you can find a selection of articles related to Much Ado about Nothing Adaptations.
I have found this adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing by Louis Burdett. It is an adaptation for kids.
It is a great idea: approach the Shakesperean works to the kids because Shakespeare can be fun!
More information: Click here (An online catalog)
Good news for my job: I knew the importance and transcendence of William Shakespeare but I never thought that somebody would make a “Much Ado About Nothing” Manga’s adaptation!
I have found this adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing of Manga.
“Manga Shakespeare: Much ado about nothing / by William Shakespeare”; adapted by Richard Appignanesi; illustrated by Emma Vieceli.
Emma Vieceli is a professional comic book artist and illustrator from the UK. Since becoming one of the winners of the first Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga UK and Ireland competition, she has worked with publishers including: SelfMadeHero, Image, Tokyopop and Random House. She is also a key member of independent publisher and manga-styled comic collective, Sweatdrop Studios. This is her second book in the Manga Shakespeare series, after Hamlet.
There have been several notable adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing, the comedy written by William Shakespeare.
There have been several screen adaptations of Much Ado About Nothing, and almost all of them have been made for television. In 2005 the BBC adapted the story by setting it in the modern-day studios of Wessex Tonight, a fictional regional news programme, as part of the ShakespeaRe-Told season, with Damian Lewis, Sarah Parish, and Billie Piper.
The first cinematic version in English may have been the 1913 silent film directed by Phillips Smalley. The first big sound version in English was the highly acclaimed 1993 film by Kenneth Branagh.
The operas Béatrice et Bénédict (1862) by Hector Berlioz and Much Ado About Nothing by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1901) are based upon this play.
Recently the Klingon Language Institute translated Much Ado About Nothing into Klingon, similar to The Klingon Hamlet.
Another adaptation is the 1973 New York Shakespeare Festival production by Joseph Papp, shot on videotape and released on VHS and DVD, that presents more of the text than Kenneth Branagh‘s version. The Papp production stars Sam Waterston, Kathleen Widdoes and Barnard Hughes.
In 2006 the American Music Theatre Project produced The Boys Are Coming Home, a musical adaptation by Berni Stapleton and Leslie Arden that sets Much Ado About Nothing in World War II America.
First of all, if you haven’t read the comedy Much Ado About Nothing, written by William Shakespeare, I think it could be interesting to read a synopsis. Much Ado About Nothing was most likely first performed in 1598 / 1599. The play’s style shares many features of the modern romantic comedy and it remains one of Shakespeare’s most enduringly popular plays on stage.