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Online Exhibition

 

Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream 1970

The Mechanicals

Banging on heavy pipes heralded the arrival of the mechanicals. A great deal of by-play indicated that they were a lively, but disordered bunch, united by their enthusiasm and desire to put on a play fit for royalty. Their costumes were realistic in contrast to the rest of the cast – they were dressed as contemporary workmen with string vests and rough trousers. All wore the same basic costume differentiated by colour.  

The mechanicals: close-up showing costume details such as the tape measure around Starveling’s neck. 
(1962, revival of 1959) Puck watches the mechanicals rehearse. The mechanicals were played with a dignity hitherto uncommon; here, the audience was invited to laugh with rather than at their aspirations to fine theatre. Transparencies and foliage transformed the stage into a forest while the gallery offered a balcony and an intimate, curtained space for Titania’s bower.
(1994) Bottom and Quince at the first rehearsal. Photographer: Malcolm Davies. The mechanicals were dressed conventionally shabbily, though Bottom was given an aviator scarf and black leather jacket. Noble made them serious and instantly recognisable to the audience as the type of amateur actors that rehearse in village halls. The bare electric light bulb of their village hall multiplied and transformed itself into the glowing darkness of the mysterious forest. In this surreal dream world the ordinary reappeared in extraordinary form. 

To continue, select a topic:

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

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