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Online Exhibition

 

Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream 1970
The Royal Shakespeare Company

 

 

 

One of the most influential Shakespeare productions of the 20th century was Peter Brook’s A Midsummer's Night Dream, designed by Sally Jacobs and first staged in 1970.

Clive Barnes, theatre critic for the New York Times, wrote:
‘Once in a while, once in a very rare while, a theatrical production arrives that is going to be talked about as long as there is a theatre, a production that, for good or ill, is going to exert a major influence on the contemporary stage.’
 

This exhibition presents images from this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It aims to illustrate the design and production choices which marked Brook's work as a landmark in contemporary theatre history and to show how it contrasted with productions which preceded it and influenced productions which came after.

The following aspects of the play are captioned and illustrated. Please click on the appropriate icon for the information.  Each section includes images from Brook's production and examples from other Stratford productions for comparison:

Stage Devices The Mechanicals
The Fairies  Bottom's Transformation
The Lovers Pyramus and Thisbe
The Forest The Blessing of the House

The images are drawn from the Shakespeare Centre Library’s photographic collections, which include the Thomas Holte Theatre Photographic Collection, the Thos. F. and Mig Holte Collection and the Joe Cocks Studio Collection, which record productions by the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre and the RSC from 1952 onwards.

A major part of the Shakespeare Centre Library’s collection comprises the archive of the Royal Shakespeare Company and its predecessors from the beginning of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879, to the foundation of the RSC in 1961, to the present day. There are records of every RSC production in London and on tours at home and abroad, as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon, including newscuttings, programmes, prompt books, music, designs and photographs.

More information about the cast of Brook’s Dream, the dates of openings and the venues at which it was performed can be found by consulting the Royal Shakespeare Company Archives FESTE database, compiled by the Shakespeare Centre Library, available at http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/collections/catalogues.html   


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