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A Midsummer Night's Dream is Shakespeare's most enchanting comedy, and in the 20th century it has become perhaps his most popular play. It contains some of Shakespeare's loveliest poetry and is one of his most complex and effective dramatic structures. After an historical survey of the Dream from Shakespeare's time through to the 19th century, Jay Halio focuses primarily on 20th-century productions and adaptations, for film and television as well as for the stage. Chapters are devoted to productions by Max Reinhardt, Peter Hall, Robert Lepage, and especially to Peter Brook's landmark production in 1970 and the reactions to it. Using a wealth of personal experience, as well as original promptbooks and critical reviews, Halio shows how differently but still very effectively the play may be staged, as the wide variety of plays he records. This second, enlarged edition contains three additional chapters on Adrian Noble's RSC production and film, Michael Hoffman's film, and the Dream in China. Written in clear, jargon-free language, it offers an extended study of major 20th-century productions of the Dream in their historical context.
Carol Chillington Rutter is Professor of English at the University of Warwick