Shakespeare assembled material from a wide variety of sources to write A Midsummer Night's Dream: legend and folklore; earlier mythology; and written work, such as Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Plutarch's Lives, Ovid's Metamorphoses and Apuleius' Golden Ass. The most notable feature is Shakespeare's inventiveness in fusing material from disparate sources and from his own imagination into an interrelated whole.
Peter Brook’s influential
In 2004, Director Tim Supple was commissioned by the British Council to create a touring show for India. Supple saw A Midsummer Night's Dream as a play whose structure, story and characters naturally embrace the wide variety of Indian cultures and performance traditions, and Shakespeare's play was one he had long wished to direct. Supple notes that many conditions in India, in contrast to the West, create an affinity and understanding for the Dream—a tradition of arranged marriages, for example, along with its extremes of class in society and a belief in the presence of the spirit world. "On many levels," says Supple, "the play of A Midsummer Night's Dream is very alive to the truth of life in India, more so than it is in Western Europe at this time."
A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of the most performed Shakespeare plays on the Subcontinent. Like all of Shakespeare's work, the play is often adapted, by introducing Hindu mythical characters, into nineteenth-century commercial Parsi theater extravaganzas, or into a Bengali opera.
The 1.1 billion people of India, one-sixth of the world population, are remarkably diverse, linguistically, ethnically, religiously and economically. Every major religion is represented, with Hindus making up 80% of the population. A hierarchy of its multiple languages has historically served as an explosive source of division, debate and prejudice. Native languages learned from birth number over 400, with 29 spoken by over a million people. English and Hindi are both used for the official business of the Union Government, but each of the 28 states and seven territories has its own official language. English retains its place of importance because large blocks view the adoption of Hindi (a language of the north) as an affront to the rich heritage of their own languages in southern and east India.
Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is an island nation off the Southern coast of India and, like India, it is ethnically and religiously diverse. Sri Lanka has been a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage since 1931, but has struggled with internal strife since the 1980s with the Tamil Tigers, a militant secessionist organization seeking to establish a Tamil state.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department