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A Midsummer Night’s Dream Assignment

Throughout all of Shakespeare’s text there are vast examples of where there are parts of comedy, violence, love and magic that are difficult to stress to the audience. This is increasingly different to a modern audience, as the language has changed. In Act 3 Scene1 of a ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ I have said where these moments that could be unclear are and how they could be made clear. During Act 3 Scene 1 there are many factors of narrative development that have to be made clear to the audience so they don’t become confused. To make the plot clear certain elements in language and direction have to be changed to do this.

At the beginning of the scene the Mechanicals meet up to rehearse the play, ‘are we all met? ‘ At this point the Mechanicals are to rehearse a play within the play. The fact that they are to perform the a play within the play could be confusing to the audience so it has to be stressed to the audience that they are doing so. Shakespeare makes it clear in Quinces next line, ‘we will do it in action as we will before the Duke. ‘ Also the play within the play can be stressed when they are performing by the actor getting in character and changing their voices.

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During the scene the distinction has to be made between the fairy worlds because too the mechanicals the fairies can’t be seen. This has got to be made clear through dramatic irony. For example when Puck is watching the Mechanicals he can’t be seen. As a director to make this clear to the audience I would use a special effect when an actor playing a fairy moved to symbolise they are magical and can’t be seen. During Shakespeare’s time this was not possible so Shakespeare had to use either the different entry’s available or use metonymic prop to symbolise how the fairies are magical.

During the Act Bottom’s head is transformed to a donkeys by Puck, ‘O Bottom thou art changed. ‘ During Shakespeare’s time this transformation would be difficult because of the lack of special effects. To make the audience aware that Puck transformed Bottom, Shakespeare would have Bottom playing his lines as Pyramus on line 67 played over the top so when Bottom exits and Puck says, ‘A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here’ before Bottom exits to where Puck is it is obvious to the audience that Puck is very likely to play a trick on Bottom.

This would make the transformation clear to Shakespeare’s audience and the audience wouldn’t be confused but they would laugh at Bottom’s donkey’s head. Act3 Scene1 of a ‘Midsummer’s Nights Dream is set in a wood at night. This is of particular importance because this has to be communicated with the audience for the scene to make sense. The setting in Shakespeare’s time was particularly hard to make apparent because all the performances were at night and scenery was minimal.

Scenery in Shakespeare’s theatre had to be representational and therefore metonymic. There would be just one bush to symbolise the whole forest, which must be used to show its part of the performance. This could be used when Bottom exits to where Puck is for the transformation. To show its at night in Shakespeare’s time he would probably get one of the less important Mechanicals either Snout or Starveling to use a lantern metonymically to represent the scene at night dropping it when they are frightened off by Bottom.

If I was directing the Scene I would have a elaborate setting with trees, bushes and a night-time skyline to show the scene was in a wood at night. During Act 3 scene 1 of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream there are a number of aspects of the dramatic form that have to be emphasized to the audience. The Mechanicals are a particularly funny side to the play and they provide a lot of comedy to the audience during the scene. The Mechanicals come on to the stage, which to them is a part of a wood and say, ‘here’s a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal’.

This would be funny to the audience because they are coming on to the stage the best place they could rehearse in Shakespeare’s time. Its sort of dramatic irony because the audience know it’s a stage and the actors in their characters don’t know it is a stage to them it’s a wood. Bottom is very confident character during the play and the way he buts in constantly trying to take over Quince’s leadership could be funny to the audience if the lines are delivered correctly to the audience.

When Bottom says, ‘Peter Quince’ on line 6 of Act 1 scene 3 if I was a director I would ask the actor who’s playing Quince to deliver his lines, ‘what sayest thou, bully Bottom? ‘ In an annoyed or fed up way the audience would find Bottom’s interruption funny as he constantly does it. Also if the audience found this funny they would also find Bottoms transformation funny because they would laugh at what an idiot he is. The audience during the scene would probably find Snout and Starveling funny by the way they are so quick to backup Bottom’s stupid ideas.

Bottom says that the Ladies cannot abide the fact Pyramus will draw a sword to kill himself, ‘Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself which the ladies cannot abide. ‘ The audience would find this funny because they think the lady will think its real when a play obviously isn’t. These lines have to be said seriously as if Bottom is really trying to make the play better for the audience to find this funny. Bottom solves the problem with the idea of the prologue. He gets his words mixed up and says let the prologue, ‘seem to say’ that there are no real swords used.

This funny not only because Bottom gets his words mixed up but because he is going against the point of a play and saying its not real when it has to be made as real as possible. Quince agrees with the prologue and reply’s that it should be, ‘written in eight and six’. Bottom then replies to Quince, ‘make it two more: let it be written in eight and eight’. This funny firstly because there is no such thing as eight and eight which the audience will know. It is also funny because in Bottom trying to act as if he is a good director by interrupting he makes a fool of himself.

This also adds to the comedy when Bottom gets changes into a donkey because the audience already can see from his character he is already a bit of a donkey. Shakespeare’s audience would probably appreciate the funny side of Bottom saying it should be written in eight and eight more than a modern day audience because they are more likely to know there is no such thing as eight and eight because they would attend the theatre more so knowing more about dramatic devices.

During the rehearsal of the play Bottom’s efforts to prove that he is a good actor could be made funny with the contrasting effect of Bottom over acting and getting his lines mixed up. Bottom’s lines as Pyramus starting on line 64 could be played over the top which could have comical effects because Bottom thinks he is a more accomplished actor than he his when he’s really a pour one. If I was director I would as the actor to do the act Bottom acting poorly to add to the comedy.

Bottom’s poor ability as an actor is underlined by him getting his words mixed up, ‘the flowers of odious savours sweet’ which is the corrected by Quince. Quince has to but in with the lines on a number of times. Bottom after being transformed, when all the rest of the mechanicals have fled begins to sing to show he’s not afraid ‘the ousel cock so black of hue… ‘ The singing by the actor in this part should be sang badly because from Bottom’s character we can see that he’s probably not going to be the best of singers.

If an actor sang badly it would to the comedy of Bottom’s funny character. Amongst the central theme explored in a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ are those of love and illusion. From Titania’s awakening on line 107 to the end of Act 3 scene one there is a central theme. The theme of this part is love and illusion. Titania’s love for Bottom is only because she has been put under spell and has mistakenly fallen in love with Bottom who has been changed into by a Donkey. Titania being Queen of the fairies would never usually for a mortal such as Bottom and this has to be made by the audience.

The fact that Titania only loves Bottom because she is under spell is already partly made aware to the audience by the fact that Titania and Bottom are two totally different characters, Bottom being a stupid, working class mortal and Titania being a magically intelligent fairy. This helps but the way the actor’s act and the way they portray Titania’s illusion of love for Bottom is important. When Titania speaks as director I would ask the actor playing Titania to act almost as if she is hypnotised.

This would make it apparent to the audience she was under spell but not the actors who would act, as everything is normal. This would be using dramatic irony to show Titania is under spell. Secondly I would the other actors in this section the fairies, not Bottom because he thinks too much of himself too think that a fairy Queen love him is a bit flattering, too act like they don’t want too touch Bottom if you were looking from their point of view you would be thinking what’s he doing with her.

When Peaseblossom says ‘hail mortal’ on line 153 if the actor playing him pulls a face of disgust at the sight of Bottom with the other fairies doing the same this would show to the audience everything is not right. Bottom is one of the main characters throughout Act 3 Scene. This would have to be emphasized to the audience by separating Quince and Bottom away from the rest of the mechanicals, with the other mechanicals crowding round to show that they are the more powerful of the mechanicals.

This would be particularly effective when Bottom keeps interrupting with the other mechanicals crowding round and maybe nodding in with agreement, ‘there are things in this comedy of Paramus and Thisbe that will never please’. This is an example of how the other mechanicals respect Bottom an d backup what he says. This is done after every suggestion by Bottom, for example when Bottom says leave out the killing Starveling backs up Bottom, ‘I believe we must leave the killing out’, this is a clear sign of respect for Bottom and the mechanicals do not laugh at him like the audience would.

Bottom also thinks very highly of himself, even when a fairy Queen loves him he doesn’t think that something is wrong but says ‘yet… reason and love keep little company together nowadays’. Puck acts a messenger or henchman to Oberon who he is performing deeds from. He seems to mischievous fairy at times when he changes Bottom into a Donkey. He also thinks quite highly of himself because he also thinks he can do a better job than Bottom when Bottom is acting and comments on how poor Bottom is’ ‘a stranger Pyramus than e’ver played here’.

Titania is a very beautiful fairy Queen and is evidently more powerful than other character from Shakespeare’s choice of language for her, ‘what angel wakes me from my flowery bed? ‘ This language makes her beautiful presence felt and you would need to emphasise this as a director. In conclusion Act 3 Scene 1 is very hard to make clear to the audience because there is so much going on that needs to made clear. The characters during the play have very different personalities and this has to be shown as I have described. This is also made increasingly difficult by the metonymic representation on the stage.

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