June 16 – November 29, 2015

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare casts a theatrical spell powerful enough to make audiences of all ages believe in anything. This mischievous comedy of lovers, heroes, fairies, and rude mechanicals is his tribute to humankind’s power of imagination, and reveals that the “course of true love” can alter with just one touch of magic.

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Stuff that Happens
Stuff that happens during the play
  • Theseus, Duke of Athens, plans his marriage to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.
  • Egeus interrupts to complain that his daughter Hermia has fallen in love with Lysander. Theseus orders Hermia to obey her father and marry Demetrius; otherwise, she will be killed or sent to a nunnery.
  • Hermia and Lysander plan to escape to the woods, get married, and live off money from Lysander’s rich aunt.
  • Hermia’s friend Helena, who loves Demetrius, reveals the plan to him. Demetrius chases Hermia and Lysander into the woods. Helena chases Demetrius into the woods.
  • In the woods, Oberon, the fairy king, and Titania, the fairy queen, quarrel over the possession of a changeling boy.
  • Oberon sends Puck to put a spell on Titania so that she will fall in love with the first creature she sees when she awakes.
  • Nick Bottom and his fellow workmen (“rude mechanicals”) come into the woods to rehearse a play for Theseus and Hippolyta’s wedding celebration.
  • Puck places an ass’s head upon Bottom. Titania wakes and promptly falls in love.
  • Oberon commands Puck to put a spell on Demetrius so that he falls in love with Helena; Puck, however, mistakes Lysander for Demetrius.
  • Confusions, corrections, coupling, and play-going ensue.
Notes from the Director

Like all plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a trifle. Even the greatest production of King Lear is no more than an entertainment — a make- believe experience that evaporates with the final bow. It may move us to pity and awe, but it does not cure the sick nor shelter the poor nor feed the hungry. A Midsummer Night’s Dream weighs even less than a King Lear and is more obviously a trifle.

Dream is about Shakespeare’s own trivial pursuit of making plays. He puts a play within the play in other works, but Dream is the only one in which he puts the rehearsal of a play as well. At that rehearsal in the center of this play Shakespeare brings together the supernatural and the human worlds and engineers the most unlikely romantic encounter in the history of theatre.

Hamlet explains grandly that the purpose of plays is to hold a mirror up to nature. Stupid Hamlet. Tell that to audiences enchanted to senselessness as they watch Titania, the Queen of the Fairies, make love to an ass-headed amateur thespian named Bottom.

Plays do something other than — more and less than — mirror nature. They are the mysterious human endeavor where our imaginations strut our dreams for the delight of others. Sound and fury for an hour (or two) to be heard no more … until of course the next play, when some other group of actors driven by the oddest of human needs reimagines another dream for another audience assembled to exercise the joy of imagination.

That joy is the subject of this play, not because Theseus gives a memorable speech about imagination, but because the play continually engages your effortless superpower to imagine. Titania refuses to give Oberon the little changeling boy — a character that Shakespeare has us only imagine — because his mother was her human companion who would, as she explains,

… sail upon the land
To fetch me trifles, and return again
As from a voyage rich with merchandise…

Rich trifles. That’s what plays are. We can live without them, but we don’t want to. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is Shakespeare’s perfect trifle.


Director of Mission and Co-founder