The play opens on preparations for a lavish wedding between Theseus, the Duke of Athens, and Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons. The nobleman Egeus complains to Theseus that his daughter Hermia refuses to marry Demetrius, the man he has picked for her; Hermia protests, saying she is in love with Lysander, a young Athenian man. The Duke declares that Hermia must make her choice before his own wedding, and warns her that if she defies her father’s wishes, she could be sent to a convent or executed.
That night, Hermia and Lysander make plans to elope. Hermia tells her friend Helena of their plans. Helena is hopelessly in love with Demetrius, who intends to honor Egeus and marry Hermia. Helena tells Demetrius of the elopement in an attempt to dissuade him from pursuing the marriage, and direct his attentions back to her. Instead, he cruelly rejects her, and when Hermia and Lysander sneak off into the woods, Demetrius follows them, and Helena decides to follows behind Demetrius.
In a secluded part of the same woods Titania and Oberon, the fairy queen and king, arrive with their band of fairies. Titania recently returned from India to bless the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta.
Also taking advantage of the seclusion of the woods, a band of Athenian craftsmen known as the Mechanicals, diligently rehearse their original play, a version of Pyramus and Thisbee that they hope to perform for the duke and his bride. Though they lack talent, the Mechanicals desperately wish to impress the townspeople and be recognized as true actors.
Oberon vs Titania
Oberon and Titania quarrel over Titania’s changeling, a stunning boy that Oberon wishes to make his knight. Titania refuses to give Oberon the boy and the quarrel remains unresolved. In an attempt to delude his queen Oberon sends out his servant, Puck, to find a magic flower that has a potion which, when spread on a sleeping person’s eyelids, will make that person fall in love with the first thing they see when they wake. When Puck returns with the flower, Oberon tells him to put the flower’s potion on Titania while she sleeps. Oberon wants revenge for not receiving the child and the magic from the potion will cause Titania to behave foolishly. Because Oberon had seen Demetrius act cruelly towards Helena, the fairy king tells his mischievous servant to put the potion on the eyelids of Demetrius, as well.
Obeying the wishes of Oberon, Puck sets out to do as the Fairy King commanded. While attempting to find Demetrius, the naughty Puck discovers the Mechanicals in the forest. His capricious nature overcomes him and he decides to transform the unassuming Mechanical named Bottom to have the head of a donkey. Prompted by Oberon, the lovely Titania awakens from her sleep. The first thing she sees is Bottom and the magic potion on her eyes causes her to fall helplessly in love with him, ears and all. Confused and delighted, Bottom relishes Titania’s unrestrained attention.
Chaos ensues as Puck mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, causing the lovers to misdirect their affections under the influence of the flower potion. Ultimately, Puck’s mischief is corrected and all troubles end on a happy note.
Widely accepted as one of the greatest English writers of all time, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564. Over the course of his career, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems as well as several other poems, collected after his death in 1616. Audiences read his plays in more languages than any other playwright.
At the age of 18, he married a pregnant Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior. Six months after their wedding, she gave birth to the first of three children, Susanna. After the birth of twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585, very little is known about Shakespeare’s life until 1592. Biographers have attempted to put together accounts of this period, but little is known as fact.
When he reappeared in 1592, Shakespeare’s plays were mentioned in theatre records in London. In 1599, the Globe Theatre was built on the south bank of the Thames. This theatre served as a venue for a large number of Shakespeare’s works, which he continued to write and publish through 1607. Shakespeare also performed in his own plays, portraying characters such as Hamlet’s father.
About The Actors’ Gang
Founded in 1981 and guided by artistic director Tim Robbins, The Actors’ Gang strives to make theatre and the arts available to everyone. At the company’s home in Culver City, California, one day a week is designated as “pay what you can,” allowing even the most impoverished to access the performances. Outside of their own theatre, the group works heavily with schools and prisons.
The Actors’ Gang uses the characters of the 16th century Italian theatre, Commedia dell’Arte, to teach expressions of basic emotions, such as happiness, fear, sadness, and anger. For both the students and the inmates, the acting lessons provide an outlet for creative expression and aim to develop social skills, self-esteem, and non-violent expression of anger and tension.