(Also for Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "H" is for "Happy.")
But there’s a problem.
The play is so well known it’s hard to say something about it that hasn’t been said before - and maybe too often. So I thought I’d just mention a few of the lesser-known facts about this delightful work. Let’s start with this:
In the play it’s a night like a dream and everything’s a bit crazy. Large numbers of fairies come out and do their fairy thing.
(Does that happen rarely? No, fairy often.)
It's my duty to point out that Will Shakespeare’s fairyland isn’t like any other. In his plays the gossamer types can be evil.
Will was influenced by the prevailing belief of the English peasants. When something bad happened, you had something, or someone, to blame it on.
If you have a perfectly healthy baby and the next morning it’s sickly, one of them dam’ fairies had come and switched them, took the healthy kid and left a “changeling.”
I don’t know how closely Shakespeare studied his Freud, but there’s no denying that an important element of the play, the wood outside Athens, is the land of the id, the home of the unconscious and uncontrollable impulse.
I think it’s safe to say Will’s Boss, Queen Liz the One, was in attendance at the play’s first performance. Why? Because he goes out of his way to pay her a soothing compliment in the lines he wrote for the occasion.
You see, Oberon mentions that there is one individual who is above all the erotic banter and hanky-panky that goes on: without naming her, he is referring to Queen Elizabeth herself.
It seems Cupid took a shot at her, but to no avail.
Oberon: “A certain aim he took at a fair vestal, throned by the west, and loos’d his love shaft smartly from his bow, as it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts. But the imperial votr’ess passed on, in maiden meditation, fancy-free.”
In other words, Elizabeth is above such stuff; she’s busy creating the British Empire.
Perhaps the most famous single scene from this play has the beauteous Queen Titania falling madly in love with humble Nick Bottom, a weaver.
Nick isn’t much to look at in the best of times. But as I’m sure you know, he has been cursed (as who among us has not?) In his case, the curse is that he has been turned into a jassack.
Titania: “Come sit thee down upon this flow’ry bed
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,
And stick musk-roses in thy sleek, smooth head
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.”
Too bad, like so many summer romances, l’affaire Titania-Bottom doesn’t last long.
Well, actually, since it’s now the beginning of September, it may be a bit late for a play about mid-summer. (The actual time in the play seems to be some time in May.) But for Will S, time didn't seem to matter.
Basically, it's a happy play. As a producer you can put it on these days as a work of exotic moonshine, a theatrical trifle. Or you can study it seriously – as I have certainly not done in this post - and come to realize that it is a complex and exacting work of art.
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)
1 year ago