[In Our Time] A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

18/04/2019 by BBC Radio 4

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=68447733
Episode: http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/6/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download/proto/http/vpid/p076v4lx.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of Shakespeare’s most popular works, written c1595 in the last years of Elizabeth I. It is a comedy of love and desire and their many complications as well as their simplicity, and a reflection on society’s expectations and limits. It is also a quiet critique of Elizabeth and her vulnerability and on the politics of the time, and an exploration of the power of imagination.


Helen Hackett
Professor of English Literature and Leverhulme Research Fellow at University College London

Tom Healy
Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Sussex


Alison Findlay
Professor of Renaissance Drama at Lancaster University and Chair of the British Shakespeare Association

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Listen Date: 2019-05-09


  • I’ve never seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed, or even read the text – and I know of it more from the references to it in Sandman and Lords and Ladies. Plus a few snippets of the Rupert Everett and Michelle Pfeiffer movie. So I kept thinking of those.
  • So it was a completely new learning for me that it has Theseus and Hippolyte as characters; and that the UK uses it as training wheels for kids to get into Shakespeare.
  • Linking the plot to Queen Elizabeth I being embattled at the end of her reign may be a bit of a stretch, but I’m glad to have learned this anyway.


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