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A Midsummer Night's Dream: 'tis almost fairy time

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's best-loved plays and is often the first exposure that children have to his work.

The play portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta. These include the comic adventures of six amateur actors (called the 'mechanicals') and four young lovers at the mercy of the fairy inhabitants of the forest, in which most of the play is set.

A Midsummer Night's Dream has been re-interpreted across many art-forms and is one of Shakespeare's most widely performed works. On this page we've gathered together a collection of "jewels from the deep" and "orient pearls" from the BBC and our partners to celebrate this enchanting play.

Shakespeare's Globe - A Midsummer Night's Dream from the Complete Walk

Shakespeare's Globe The Complete Walk: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Starring Nikki Amuka-Bird and David Caves, filmed at Wilton House, Wiltshire, England

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, Shakespeare's Globe has assembled an all-star cast to make 37 short films - one for each play. Each lavish 10 minute vignette is made on location in the real setting of each plot (where possible).

A Midsummer Night's Dream - watch one of the earliest silent versions of the play

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A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909)

From the BFI Archive - 1909

More from the BFI

Russell T Davies and Maxine Peake

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Screenwriter and star discuss the BBC's latest version of Shakespeare's magical play, set in the tyrannical court of Athens and its forests.

Biggest Bottoms

We've had a delve back through past productions of Dream both on stage and screen to highlight the amazing catalogue of actors and comedians who have donned a donkey's head - or at the least, donkey's ears - in the name of one crazy midsummer's night.

“I have had a dream - past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream..."

And what an incredible list it is!

From Paul Rogers in 1958 with an all star cast including Judi Dench and Diana Rigg via Brian Glover getting his Bottom out with Helen Mirren to Ronnie Barker, Frankie Howerd, Johnny Vegas and even Dawn French.

Bottoms up!

Who has made an ass of themselves?

From the RSC's Shakespeare Live Gala

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Judy Dench, Al Murray and an ensemble cast perform a piece from A Midsummer Night's Dream

"If we shadows have offended..."

As the culmination of our 24 Hour Shakespeare event we recorded both the actors playing the role of Puck in the current productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the RSC and Shakespeare's Globe giving the final speech from the play.

Watch the 'Puck off'!

Mix the Play

Direct your own production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

On the British Council's website you can create your own scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Using film samples and effects, you can control a range of elements, including casting, setting, costumes, acting style and music and share your creations on social media.

Mix the Play is an interactive video platform that sees the British Council collaborate with the Old Vic Theatre.

Mix the Play - have a go now

Shake it Up

Have more creative fun with Shakespeare over on the BBC's Mixital platform

The Royal Ballet rehearse Frederick Ashton's The Dream

Think but this and all is mended..."

The RSC's Lucy Ellinson as Puck.

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