The Stage Space of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By Jordan Garza
The Globe theater, Shakespeare’s own theatre, was home to many of shakespeare’s original plays, and a place full of mirth, violence, and all kinds of commotion. The stage space of the theater by itself is enough of a topic in which studies can and have been written about, however I thought it would be interesting to talk about how A Midsummer Night’s Dream might have been performed on The Globe, using the available known qualities that the theater would have provided it. A midsummer night’s dream is believed to have been written sometime between the 1590’s and the early 1600’s, and it is thought to have been first performed first in The Theater, and then later The Globe theater.
The Play would have most likely been performed in the middle of a day in summer because of the natural lighting it would have provided through the middle of the theater and on the stage. However, during night scenes minimal artificial lighting would have been possible through candles and pointing torches and such, but most likely would have just been sent to a different in-door theater with greater lighting effects. Most, if not all of the props would have most likely stayed on the stage the entire time, unless they were hand held items and small enough to fit in a pocket. So a maybe a fake tree here or there , which would have been perfect for puck and oberon to hide, while still remaining on stage, as they are two characters that are almost entirely present throughout the play, only hidden and out of sight. The upper stage, or the small balcony above the stage, might have also been used as a hiding spot for the fairies, because up there it would give the audience full view of them, which would allow for the sense that they are in fact present in most of the scenes. As far as decorating the stage space, if it were decorated at all (there is not enough evidence to support the idea that the stage was thoroughly disguised or decorated as such), it would have been probably been made to resemble a wood with some sense of the city of Athens nearby. But more than likely, the stage would have remained mostly plain.
Another important aspect of the theater to consider is the audience and the area outside the actual stage. The crowd would have been loud the entire time, or at least the audience would not have remained deathly quiet as modern audiences, so the actors would have needed to further strengthen their voice so that they would actually be audible. Prostitution, brawls and the buying and selling of merchandise would have been present throughout the play, as it was being performed. Fruits and/or dirty foodstuffs would have been thrown onstage should the play have failed to please, and roses or something similar were it successful. However, it being a play by Shakespeare, and with most of the audience being normal gentry rather than more aristocratic, the chances of Shakespeare performing a failure were very slim.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespeare in Quarto.” Shakespeare Quartos. The British Library, 17 Sept. 2004. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.
“The Old Globe Theater History.” The OLD GLOBE THEATER History. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-globe-theatre.htm>.
“The Globe Theater.” Emaze Presentations. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016. <https://www.emaze.com/@AFCWWQCL/The-Globe%C2%A0Theater>.