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Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream 1970

Stage Devices

Brook approached this production with deliberate radicalism. ‘He [Brook] persuaded you to forget a century of theatrical tradition, with its conventions and clichés’, said Robert Speaight. Brook, together with designer, Sally Jacobs, highlighted the artificiality of theatre with a brilliantly lit, white box set, which replaced the traditional picturesque woodland. Nothing was hidden and everything revealed, set out in clarity against the white space, dubbed ‘a magic box of tricks’ by Jay Halio. The play opened without a curtain, with the full company juggling and tumbling. A balcony around the stage area provided a space for the other actors to watch the action on stage. The costume and movement of circus acrobats inspired the actors’ bright silks and flights on trapeze. It was a visual assault on the audiences’ senses, and on preconceived ideas of the play.

1970.  Horns are blown to awake the sleeping lovers, suspended behind. Note actors watching the action on stage from gallery above the screens. Photographer: Joe Cocks
1970. Oberon, Titania, Puck and Bottom. Removing the spell from Titania
1970. Oberon and Puck seated on trapezes.
1959. The opening scene. A Jacobean country manor house provided the setting to Peter Hall’s 1959 production, prompted by the theory that the play’s original composition formed part of the celebrations of a courtly wedding. Elizabethan costumes and rushes strewn on the floor gave a strong sense of period. It was this traditional approach which Brook was trying to throw off in his revolutionary production. 
1994. Set Design. Photographer: Malcolm Davies. Adrian Noble’s production contained deliberate allusions to Brook’s refashioning of the play. The set designed by Anthony Ward shows Titania’s bower in a raised position, doorways, and a bareness of stage, all indebted to the influence of Brook’s production. The lighting design’s bright shining colours spilled over into the silks and rich brocades of the costumes: the set’s white walls were flooded with crimson light for Athens and indigo for the forest.

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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