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Sunday, 22 May 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer’s Night Dream was written by William Shakespeare probably for the wedding celebrations of Sir Thomas Hemage and The Countess of Southampton in 1594. It was most likely first performed in the long gallery of Sir Thomas' Copped Hall mansion.near Epping, London.

The play portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta and is set mostly at night in the woods near Athens.

It was first printed in 1600. In 1623, A Midsummer’s Night Dream was printed in the First Folio, a collection of all of Shakespeare's plays.

Page from the First Folio of 1623

Shakespeare found a description of the fairy Puck in Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584).

The word 'midsummer' does not occur at all in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, other than, of course, in the title.

A Midsummer Night's Dream contains the first recorded use of the word "swagger."

William Shakespeare shared the common belief of the time that cobwebs have a magical medicinal property that stops wounds from bleeding. In Midsummer's Night Dream Act 3 Scene 1 he has Bottom say " I shall desire of you more acquaintance, good master cobweb; if I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you."

Edwin Landseer, Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Titania and Bottom (1848)

Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary entry for September 29, 1662 "...and then on to the King’s Theatre, where we saw Midsummer Night's Dream, which I had never seen before nor shall ever see again, for it is the most insipid, ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life."

When William Herschel discovered two Uranian moons, they were named, by his son, after characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon and Titania.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing by William Blake, c. 1786

Among the composer Felix Mendelssohn's early successes was the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture (1826). written when he was just seventeen. The play was a favorite of the composer and when he received a commission from King Frederick William IV of Prussia to write some music for a Potsdam production of the Misummer Night's Dream seventeen years later, he produced one of his best known works. The "Wedding March" is the backdrop for the climactic wedding scene in the play.

A Midsummer Night's Dream has been made into movies on numerous occasions. One 1936 version featured the unlikely casting of James Cagney as Bottom and Mickey Rooney as Puck.

Die Hard director John McTiernan had the movie take place over one night to make it more like A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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