CST's Short Shakespeare! productions offer a perfect introduction to the Bard—for audiences of all ages. When four mismatched lovers, mischievous forest fairies, and a bevy of fumbling actors meet in the woods, everyone will be touched by Shakespeare’s magical spell. After the performance, audiences are welcome to join the cast for a post-show discussion.
Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Approximate running time: 75 minutes (no intermission), plus 15-minute post-show discussion
Talk Back: Listen to actors answer audience questions during the post-show Talk Backs held after Saturday morning performances and student matinees.
Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night's Dream is presented in the Jentes Family Auditorium.
As Theseus, Duke of Athens, awaits his marriage to Hippolyta, conquered queen of the Amazons, the nobleman Egeus entreats the Duke for his help. Egeus’s daughter Hermia refuses to marry her father’s choice, a boy named Demetrius, because she loves Lysander. The Duke gives Hermia three choices: marry Demetrius, live as a nun, or die. Instead, she flees with Lysander. Demetrius follows in hot pursuit. And so does Hermia’s best friend, Helena, who adores Demetrius...
And so they find themselves in the forest, where the fairy king and queen, Oberon and Titania, reign. Enraged by Titania’s attachment to a young, human boy, Oberon decides to teach his queen a lesson. Sending Puck to find the magic flower that will make Titania adore the first creature she sees, Oberon observes the heartsick Helena and orders Puck to enchant her man with the love juice, too. To Puck, unfortunately, one Athenian looks just like another, and soon it is Lysander, not Demetrius, who falls head-over-heels for Helena.
In the woods that night, too, is a troupe of amateur actors rehearsing their play. It takes Puck no time to pinpoint among this motley crew the bumbling Bottom the Weaver as the perfect love match for Titania.
The lovers’ night in the forest goes from bad to worse. Abandoning poor Hermia completely, the two young men become archrivals for Helena’s affection. Titania awakes to dote upon a mere mortal transformed into an ass. Puck’s handiwork, from beginning to end—until Oberon steps in to sort things out.
A Scholar's Perspective by David Bevington
David Bevington examines the nature of reality and imagination, dreams and belief in the theater.
Recorded Excerpts from Talk Back Discussions
Post-show discussions with the cast are held after Saturday and student matinees. Recordings are updated throughout the run of the production.
Open Door: Audience Enrichment Programs
CST offers post-show Talk Backs with members of the cast.
Teacher Workshop Lecture
Listen to a lecture by a Shakespeare scholar presented as part of our A Midsummer Night’s Dream Teacher Workshop.
The Beatles perform “Pyramus and Thisbe”
On a 1964 television special, the Beatles performed Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play.
A Real Love Potion
In a recent issue of Nature, neuroscientists offer a chemical theory of love that could make Puck’s flower a reality.
Shakespeare borrowed from many sources—Greek mythology, medieval literature, French romantic poetry, Elizabethan plays, writings on witchcraft, and daily life—to create his masterpiece.
Live rabbits, giant dragons, wedding marches and white walls have all appeared in stagings of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Scholars, Authors and Artists on A Midsummer Night's Dream
Reflections on the nature and power of love, dreams, language and the supernatural, from Restoration diarist Samuel Pepys, through critics and artists of today.
A portal to the world of Shakespeare, these selected internet sites lead further into the exploration of Shakespeare in performance, his life and times, the original texts, and much more.
A Conversation with Director Amanda Dehnert
Director Amanda Dehnert explains her process and concept as she prepares for her production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A Conversation with Set Designer Tom Burch
Tom Burch has designed CST’s last four Short Shakespeare! productions—Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors. In 2009, he will team up again with director Amanda Dehnert to design the set for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Burch talks about his approach to design and reports on his earlier conversations with the director.
View the Costume Designs
See Costume Designer Debbie Baer’s renderings for Short Shakespeare! A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Baer made her Chicago Shakespeare Theater debut with last summer’s Funk It Up About Nothin’.