An online dramaturgical casebook.

Midsummer in other media

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has inspired artists, musicians, and authors since the 17th century. It would be impossible to list all the works that have been influenced by it — so here’s just a selection of some of our favorites.

Noe Venable,Midsummer Night’s Dream

Susan Cooper, King of Shadows

They were gone before you could see them go; they all evaporated, like early mist. Will Shakespeare smiled at me, moving to stage center, and without another word he went straight into our first scene together in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, after Titania has had her fight with Oberon and left in a huff.

Well, go thy way; thou shalt not from this grove
Till I torment thee for this injury.
My gentle Puck, come hither—“

He beckoned me. Instinctively I obeyed the direction that Arby would give me four hundred years from now, and I went to him in a double somersault. I came up on my feet close enough for him to touch me. Shakespeare, surprised, laughed aloud. He made no comment, he just went on.

—thou remember’st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,

And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin’s back,

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,

That the rude sea grew civil at her song,

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid’s music?”

I remember,” I said. Puck doesn’t have too much to say in this scene. Master Shakespeare went into Oberon’s speech about the magic flower that he wants fetched (“love-in-idleness,” which he told me later was another name for a pansy) and sent me off to find it.

Fetch me this herb, and be thou here again
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

I was hopping around him like a bird longing to fly.

I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes—

That was my exit line. I remembered Arby’s direction, and I paused, uncertainly. “Can I go off through the house?”

“Through the house?” Shakespeare said.

I pointed into the auditorium.

“No, no,” he said firmly. “That is for clowns, and not clowns of my liking. Thy place is the stage.”

“Tumbling, then?”

“Show me.”

I threw myself hand over hand and cartwheeled across the stage toward the exit door. Arby had worked this out too, for a different scene, and I knew it looked good from the front. Shakespeare chuckled.

“Very pretty,” he said. “I have a dancing Puck. Yes—and let thy tumbling carry thee right off the stage and out of sight. Find a trusty door opener, to save thy head.”

Neil Gaiman, Sandman issue #19: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream
(Click the thumbnails for full-size images.)

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

TITANIA: … The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Far in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set: the spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension;
We are their parents and original.

OBERON: Do you amend it then; it lies in you:
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman. […]
Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.

TITANIA: Not for thy fairy kingdom. Fairies, away!
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.

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